Nashville, 1864–1865

While Nathan Bedford Forrest was away bustin’ Johnsonville, Gen. John Bell Hood’s advance into middle Tennessee was delayed by three weeks. After leaving the environs of unfriendly Decatur, Alabama, the Army of Tennessee moved west along the Upper Tennessee River to occupy Florence and Tuscumbia. There it paused to gather and insure its supplies and effect a linkup with Forrest’s returning cavalry. Simultaneously, Union Maj. Gen. George (“Old Pap”) Thomas was reinforced with several corps and cavalry. Among these would be the two divisions of XVI Corps assigned to the pursuit of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, CSA, in Missouri.

Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, USA. Having become commander of the Union Army of the Cumberland just before the Battle of Chattanooga, Thomas was also commander at Nashville during the campaign that ended in complete victory in December 1864. A modest man who worked well with the USN, he had at least five nicknames: “Pap,” “Rock of Chickamauga,” “Old Slow Trot,” “Slow Trot Thomas,” and “Sledge of Nashville.” ( Library of Congress)

On November 12, Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman cut himself off from the north and marched off toward the Atlantic. Two days later, 25,000 men from the Federal IV and XXIII Corps were at Pulaski to oppose Hood. Seven days later, Hood’s command started toward Columbia, Tennessee, planning to turn the Yankees out of Pulaski, which the Northern field commander, Maj. Gen. John Schofield, evacuated on November 22. The Yankees moved back toward Columbia, entrenching south of the Duck River, the indigenous Volunteer State stream which flowed west to a confluence with the Lower Tennessee near Johnsonville.

Hood’s soldiers came upon Columbia five days later, at which point Schofield moved across the river, destroying its bridges. The gallant Southern campaigner, with help from Forrest and Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Lee among others, managed to turn the Federals over the next four days so that, by November 29, Schofield was nearly cut off, reaching Franklin only through good luck on November 30.1

The convergence of the blue- and ­­gray-uniformed soldiers in middle Tennessee, though occurring in late fall and early winter, was not unlike the coming of a summer thunderstorm to areas of the Volunteer State. Even today, the threatening clouds of such a local tempest can be seen well ahead of time by any attentive person, and most folks, after some residence, can almost tell how long it will be from first sightings of various thunderheads until the wind and rain arrives. Unlike the rapid thrust of a raider or guerrilla squall, the movement of the armies of Hood and Thomas was as ominous as such a gathering storm. Telegraph wires, scouts, patrols, shippers, journalists and civilians, like ­­modern-day electronic and communications media, all contributed to the pool of threat intelligence and assessment available for review.

As Hood, Thomas, their lieutenants, and others near and far made and remade their observations and preparations for the military deluge on land, the sailors of the Ninth and Tenth Districts, Mississippi Squadron, led by Acting RAdm. Samuel P. Lee, made every effort to control the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. The seamen knew a gale of Confederate iron was blowing and that it was their duty to help protect against it.

Through close coordination with the army, the navy could best accomplish its duty by blockading the use of the twin rivers to Union purpose. Specifically, district vessels were tasked to prohibit their crossing or other use by Southern forces, to detect and, whenever possible, defeat Rebel movements, to guard and facilitate the continuing transfer of men and supplies, and above all to protect against Southern river ­­counter-blockades. These goals included the protection of key ports and rendezvous as well as coordination with military quartermasters and railroad chiefs.

As November advanced, the riverine navy’s mission intensified. As historian Byrd Douglas later commented, the arrival of Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith’s army from Missouri remained “of utmost importance.” Nearly every steamer coming up the Cumberland brought a few advance units of Smith’s force. It now became obvious at both army and navy headquarters that a blocking assault on the Cumberland could be disastrous. If Maj. Gen. Forrest or one of his lieutenants could obstruct transportation there as he had on the Lower Tennessee, “it might result in the loss of the impending battle with Hood before it was fought.”

The ­­on-scene Mississippi Squadron operational commanders and their army counterparts continued to lobby, directly and indirectly, for the buildup of local naval capacity; “above all,” this growth “indicates the respect that Thomas, Sherman and Lee had for Forrest.” In order to cope with powerful ­­Johnsonville-like rifled batteries the Confederates could be expected to erect along the Cumberland River, Acting RAdm. Lee wisely strengthened the Tenth District flotilla of Lt. Cmdr. Le Roy Fitch with ironclads, ordering the Carondelet and Neosho readied for service at Nashville.2

None of the local Union leadership could, however, know that the “devil’s role would be confined to support of Hood’s main force inland of the rivers. Only a small portion of Forrest’s command would threaten Cumberland transportation during the upcoming battle.”3

Through the month of November the Union divisions of Maj. Gen. Smith, fresh from their victory over Maj. Gen. Price at Westport on October 23, marched across Missouri to St. Louis. Early on November 24, Smith wired Paducah advising that lead elements of his corps were embarking for departure the next day. Hood was now threatening Columbia and according to Col. Henry Stone of Thomas’ staff, it had become “an open question whether he would not reach Nashville before the reinforcements from Missouri.”

The watch for waterborne reinforcements got underway in earnest on both the Ohio and Cumberland. In addition to convoys guarded by the USN, numerous steamers operated independently on the Cumberland, a few with protection from the army gunboats Newsboy or Silver Lake No. 2.

Near Cumberland City during the day, one of these lone sailors, the Nannie, was fired into by “guerrillas” hidden along the riverbank. About thirty rounds struck the boat, but no one was hurt and there was no damage. As preparations for impending battle intensified, 738 penniless evacuees from Nashville arrived at Louisville aboard the transports J. K. Baldwin and Irene.

By the last week of November, the troop boats from St. Louis and Acting Rear Adm. Lee’s escorts were converging upon Smithland, Kentucky, at the head of the Cumberland River. Ninth District commander Lt. Cmdr. James Shirk, being too ill to participate in the upcoming campaign, was temporarily superseded by the Tenth District chief. So it was that Le Roy Fitch now assumed tactical command of the USN ironclads Carondelet and Neosho, as well as the heavy gunboat Peosta, the tinclads Moose (flagboat), Fairplay, Silver Lake, Brilliant, Springfield, Reindeer, and Victory, plus at least one auxiliary.

As the river’s historian Douglas confirmed, “these constituted the greatest fleet of gunboats ever to appear on the Cumberland during the War.” Although it is not generally recognized, Fitch could, if desired, also call upon the two local army gunboats. Although he did not hold elevated rank, Lt. Cmdr. Fitch now had more operational authority over more heavy vessels than any Mississippi Squadron junior officer since Capt. Henry Walke commanded the fleet’s lower division at Vicksburg in the fall of 1862.

USS Silver Lake. In primarily convoy-escort and patrol service since January 1863, the veteran Cumberland River tinclad Silver Lake participated in a number of actions prior to the 1864 Nashville campaign, including fights at Second Fort Donelson (Feb. ’63), Florence, Alabama (March ’63), and Palmyra, Tennessee (April ’63). Sold out of service at war’s end, she would be lost on the Red River of Louisiana a year later (Library of Congress).

The Carondelet and Neosho, together with the last of Smith’s transports, arrived at Smithland early on November 29. Lt. Cmdr. Fitch and his subordinate captains, in accordance with orders from Acting RAdm. Lee, quickly organized a water advance to the Tennessee capital and communicated the sailing order to the participating transport captains and affected military personnel. Responsibility for the welfare of the military individuals aboard the ­­soldier-laden steamers would, as it had during the trip over from St. Louis, lay with the senior officers aboard the transports Albert Pearce and Wananita, who, in turn, sent general orders for the Cumberland journey to their subordinates. All were to proceed carefully in strict observance of fleet steaming orders as well as those for the convoy received from the USN. No one wanted a repeat of the loss of the transport W. L. Ewing, which had struck a snag south of St. Louis and sunk, though fortunately not before all of the troops aboard were successfully transferred to nearby boats.

Nashville army headquarters was notified that the transports would steam from Smithland as soon as they had coaled. Maj. Gen. Thomas was also pleased to inform Lt. Gen. Grant at City Point, Virginia, that the usual “skert” of Maj. Gen. Forrest, was evaporating. Although there was no positive news that the Confederate “devil” had departed Tennessee, he was “closely watched,” and a campaign against Hood would be launched as soon as possible “whether Forrest leaves Tennessee or not.”

At 10 a.m., just over two hours following the arrival of the ironclads, the Moose started up the Cumberland, leading the grand parade. Among the nearly 60 troop steamers joining the procession were the Albert Pearce, Havana, James Raymond, Julia, Lilly Martin, Maggie Hayes, Victory, Marmora, Camelia, Silver Cloud, Arizona, J. F. McComb, Mercury, Financier, Lilly, New York, Lady Franklin, Pioneer, Magnet, Prima Donna, Wananita, America, Thomas E. Tutt, Mars, Omaha, Olive, Silver Lake, Kate Kearney, Spray, Mollie McPike, Prairie State, and another Victory. Among these were a significant number of craft impressed “from numerous small steamboat runners who lacked the means or influence to rescue their boats.”

Interspersed among the transports were the tinclad gunboats, acting as both shepherds and, on occasion, as towboats. Every available light draught of the Ninth and Tenth District was assigned to this expedition, except the Paw Paw and Peosta. The leading Neosho and the Carondelet, which brought up the rear, made their best speed; the sureness of their size and armament, if not their immediate proximity to the steamers, made them a viable “distant cover,” a term later used for Allied battleship protection of convoys in the Atlantic during World War II. As during the previous two years of Cumberland convoys, group running was governed by an elaborate system of ­­long-and-short boat whistles based on Morse code, the various loud blasts of which denoted such things as stations and distances to be maintained, fueling opportunities, or enemy sightings.

Trailing huge clouds of smoke from over 100 chimneys, the steamboat procession, stretched out over miles of river length, proceeded without incident throughout the day and into the evening. This was the largest troop convoy escorted to Nashville since that of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger at the beginning of 1863. Numerous steamers were passed moving downstream and for the most part the weather was pleasant.4

On November 30, Gen. Hood’s army, numbering something less than 16,000 effectives, attacked the 22,000 entrenched Union defenders of Franklin, north of Columbia, losing 6,252 men, including six general officers killed. The ­­five-hour battle cost the Northerners approximately 2,300 soldiers. Writing on “the five tragic hours” years later, historian Fisher opined that “Hood had virtually destroyed his army.”

Before midnight, Maj. Gen. Schofield started yet another forced march, leaving his dead and wounded on the battlefield. All in the XXIII Corps who were able set off for Nashville, 18 miles away, arriving by noon the next day. There behind fortified lines they were joined by Maj. Gen. Frank Stanley’s IV Army Corps, led by Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood. As the day wore on, more men arrived from various Tennessee locations, including Maj. Gen. James B. Steedman’s Provisional Detachment of the District of the Etowah from Chattanooga.

As the Franklin bloodbath continued, the ­­stretched-out Smith convoy puffed up the Cumberland. The heavier craft steamed more slowly and were often overtaken by lighter units; all were regularly passed by vessels traveling in the other direction. Among the boats making the swiftest upriver passage was the U.S. Army’s ­­400-bed hospital boat D. A. January, en route to Louisville with injured soldiers.

In Nashville while en route to a reception, Col. James F. Rusling, Acting Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the Cumberland, stopped by to see Maj. Gen. Thomas. The latter happily showed his supply officer a telegram from Schofield claiming to have defeated Hood at Franklin and reporting his withdrawal. Was there news of Smith, Thomas wondered. No, Rusling replied, though he had dispatched a steamer (probably the army gunboat Newsboy) earlier in the afternoon to hurry the fleet. “Well,” the commanding general replied, “if Smith does not get up here tonight, he will not get here at all; for tomorrow, Hood will strike the Cumberland and close it against all transports.”

It was around midnight when the first couple of troop transports, encouraged ahead by Rusling’s steamer and speeding in advance, came to off the city levee. Maj. Gen. Thomas was in a meeting with Maj. Gen. Schofield, who had himself just arrived, and Brig. Gen. Wood at Department of the Cumberland headquarters in the St. Cloud Hotel when the news arrived. The quartermaster colonel had hurried back from his engagement and burst into the room to announce that Smith had at long last come.

Rusling, like many other Nashvillians, had heard the joyful whistle calls of the advance steamers. Not long thereafter, the veteran infantryman Smith walked in and was immediately given a bear hug of welcome by the usually undemonstrative Thomas. Following brief handshakes, Rusling departed about 1 a.m., leaving his four superiors on their knees reviewing maps spread over the floor.

With whistles and horns sounding in a continuous din to alert all that the ­­long-awaited reinforcement was at hand, the remaining elements of the nautical procession slowly paddled the final few miles to the Nashville wharves. The Moose escorted in the final boats with 5,000 men just before ­­late-afternoon darkness. The ironclads Neosho and Carondelet tied up to the bank below Fitch’s tinclad about 8 p.m. With the exception of Lt. Cmdr. Fitch and a few senior army officers, all of the soldiers and sailors remained aboard their boats overnight.

An hour later, the Nashville chief telegraphed Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck at Washington, D.C.: “I have two ironclads here, with several gunboats, and Commander Fitch assures me that Hood can neither cross the Cumberland or blockade it. I therefore think it best to wait here until Wilson can equip all his cavalry.” In one of the more famous quotes of the campaign, Thomas went on to size up his enemy’s chances: “If Hood attacks me here, he will be more seriously damaged than he was yesterday; if he remains…, I can whip him and will move against him at once.”5

The Cumberland River leading into Nashville, “being of fine stage of water,” remained busy over the next two days as steamers brought in additional goods, men and horses. When not themselves being replenished in supplies or coal, Fitch’s light draughts were constantly in motion. The Neosho and Carondelet remained tied to the bank, their watch officers duly noting every witnessed activity in their logbooks. Meanwhile, newspapermen reported the obvious regarding the USN mission: “The Tennessee River has been abandoned for the present and the attention of the navy is directed to keeping open the communication with Nashville via the Cumberland.”

Meanwhile, Gen. Hood’s 25,000 men were almost at Nashville. Hoping to draw Thomas out of heavily fortified Nashville and into open battle, Hood ordered a demonstration 35 miles away against the Union garrison at Murfreesboro. This Rebel gambit would remove one infantry division and all but a few of the men Thomas feared most—those from Forrest’s Cavalry Corps. The rest of the Southern army soon began establishing its line.

Unhappily for the Rebels, Hood’s ­­four-mile line when in place was three miles shorter than the outer defenses built by the Nationals around the Tennessee capital. Specifically, the line halted two miles from the Cumberland River in the east and four in the west, leaving four of the eight roads into the city wide open.

To help alleviate this deficiency, the 1,500 men of Brig. Gen. James Chalmer’s division were ordered by Forrest to operate in the unclaimed spaces that ran about four miles south between the Cumberland River below Nashville and Hood’s anchor on the Hillsboro Pike. Specifically, the men were to patrol the Charlotte, Harding, and Hillsboro pikes on the left flank of the army. As part of this deployment, Chalmers now made one of the most important dispositions of any Rebel commander in the Nashville campaign.

Late in the afternoon, Col. David C. Kelley was sent to blockade the Cumberland. Kelley positioned 300 men of Col. Edmund W. Rucker’s brigade and two ­­10-lb. Parrott rifles of Lt. H. H. Briggs’ section of Capt. T. W. Rice’s artillery near Davidson’s house on a ridge beyond a little creek that emptied at Davidson’s Landing into the Cumberland opposite Bell’s Mills. The Mills and Bell’s Landing lay four miles below the town by land. By river, they were, depending upon who is providing directions, anywhere from 12 to 18 below. The spots were (and are) located at the nearest point to the city in the large bend in the Cumberland that comes nearly back of Nashville.

Lt. Col. David C. (“Parson”) Kelley, CSA. “The Parson,” a confidant of Maj. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest, was a physician, ordained Methodist minister, and an accomplished foe of Federal river traffic. Kelly not only played havoc with Col. Hodge’s transports and the logistics base at Johnsonville, Tennessee, in October–November 1864, but blockaded the Cumberland River for two weeks against a pair of ironclads in December. One of the 1873 founders of Vanderbilt University, he ran unsuccessfully for Tennessee governor in 1890 (Wyeth, Life of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, p. 498a).

Soon reinforced by two ­­12-lb. howitzers from Capt. E. S. Walton’s battery of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, Kelley had a pair in a lower battery and two in an upper emplacement, which by this point in the river war was the common Confederate ­­anti-shipping artillery deployment. Marksmen were detailed in support from points in the hills above and below the artillery. This arrangement would allow the “fighting parson” to be largely successful in his mission, even though he had just missed the biggest target of all—A. J. Smith’s troop convoy. Still, as historian Byrd Douglas noted, Kelley in the days ahead proved “what even a small force in gifted hands could do to supply lines and all the fine gunboats sent up the Cumberland.”

In a 10 p.m. wire to Maj. Gen. Halleck, “Old Pap” Thomas outlined his defensive plans for Nashville. As part of that arrangement, the ironclads and gunboats were so disposed as to prevent Hood from crossing the Cumberland. “Captain Fitch,” he added, “assures me that he can safely convoy steamers up and down the river.” According to Durham, Thomas had two major concerns about the river: that Confederates be neither able to cross it further above and get behind him nor to cut off his waterborne supplies from Louisville with mobile artillery. Neither the general nor his top local navy man knew for certain that Kelley was even then endeavoring to ensure the latter, though rumors were beginning to come in that the Confederates were putting up cannon along the river in preparation for a night attack. In addition, all of the rivermen in town knew conditions down toward Clarksville. Although the river at Nashville was five feet deep, “water in the [Harpeth] shoals is scant and falling.”6

While the tinclads plied the Cumberland guarding steamers, Nashville army headquarters remained nervous concerning Hood’s intentions and grew concerned about the possibility that the Rebels might attempt to cross the Cumberland above Nashville. Feeling it unsafe to trust the courier line between Gallatin and Carthage for information, Maj. Gen. Thomas requested Fitch, if the river level permitted, to institute a patrol to Carthage “with at least one ironclad and two gunboats.”

Only the tinclad Springfield was available to undertake the spy mission, along with the military’s gunboat Newsboy. That afternoon, the ­­USQMD-chartered towboat N. J. Bigley was convoyed upstream by the two to Young’s Point, 100 miles above Nashville near Hartsville. The Bigley was to retrieve a number of workers from the area, while the warships noted Rebel activities.

While those craft paddled back and forth on the river, Col. Kelley’s battery, further down, made its inaugural attacks. Responding to warning shots from the bluffs above the Cumberland, the contract steamers Prairie State and Prima Donna put into the bank, tied up and surrendered themselves into Confederate hands.

Immediately after, the two boats, loaded with grain and cavalry animals, were taken and 56 aboard the two were made prisoner. Grayclad soldiers scrambled aboard and led off almost 200 horses and mules; they also pressed “into service the colored women on board who were employed as cooks and chambermaids” to help “liberate” items of value and to scatter and destroy the grain.

The naval supply steamer Magnet was fired into as she passed the first battery and was hit several times. Unable to escape the second one below, she was run into shore and tied up at a point about eight miles below Hyde’s Ferry. In darkness, her captain was able to make his way back to Nashville and warn Lt. Cmdr. Fitch that the Confederates had struck the river and planted multiple batteries on its south side across from the Mills.

Even though it was very cloudy, threatening more rain, Fitch immediately determined to launch a night strike to wrest the two captured boats back from the enemy and notified Maj. Gen. Thomas of developments. At 9:30 p.m. the Neosho, Brilliant, Fairplay, Reindeer, and Silver Lake got up steam and followed the Moose to the attack.

Coming upon the Carondelet, which veteran now replaced the monitor and Brilliant, the boats steamed on in this order: Carondelet, Fairplay, Moose, Reindeer, and Silver Lake. The light draught quartet was about to engage in the most significant action by units of their class during the entire Nashville campaign.

At 12:30 a.m. December 4, as the ironclad and four mosquito boats approached Bell’s Mills “perfectly quiet, with no lights visible” their hands were called to quarters. Aboard the tinclads, captains and pilots made close observation from their pilothouses. Down on the gundecks, the ­­eight-men of each ­­24-pounder crew looked to their executive officer for orders and for the young boys, or “powder monkeys,” that brought them ammunition from the magazine. They did not have long to wait.

First battle of Bell’s Mills, December 4, 1864. On December 3, 1864, Lt. Col. David Kelley’s men attacked three steamers headed towards Clarksville, capturing two and damaging the third off Bell’s Mills in the Cumberland River at Nashville. A USN relief force soon thereafter steamed to the scene. In fighting after midnight led by the veteran “City Series” ironclad Carondelet supported by four tinclads, all three transports were recovered and refreshed (courtesy Mark Zimmerman).

Continuing darkened and lugubrious, the Carondelet, closely followed by the Fairplay, steamed toward Kelley’s batteries. The night was cool, cloudy and devoid of natural light and hence the Confederates did not spot the Yankee craft, even though one was as big as a house.

About 12:45 a.m., the Carondelet opened with a hail of grape and canister as she passed the main Rebel camp in a hollow on the south side of the river opposite Bell’s Mills. As her guns came to bear, a number of the men aboard could clearly see the Prairie State and Prima Donna tied up at the bank at Hillsboro Landing, two miles below. As soon as the Carondelet started the fight, Kelley’s musketmen and cannoneers directed heavy fire into all of the boats. Rebel reception was, in the words of Lt. Henry Glassford, “rapid and warm.” When the ironclad initiated the battle, the Fairplay was a little below the upper battery, with the Moose abreast of it, the Reindeer about 50 yards above, and the Silver Lake behind.

Carondelet steamed slowly by the lower battery. After passing, she rounded to and came up within about 300 yards of the Confederates, fired a few shots, then passed up abreast, before dropping back again. The Southerners returned the ironclad’s fire for about 20 minutes before falling back; Carondelet pumped occasional shells toward the last known Rebel locations until 2:30 a.m. When her gunners took stock of the magazine later in the morning, it would be found that 26 rounds had been expended.

The thinly protected Fairplay could not possibly stand up to Kelley’s field guns and made no offensive effort to do so. Acting in concert with the ironclad, her job was to get quickly past the Rebels and recapture the transports at Hillsboro Landing. She fired rapidly in passing and turned the bend below out of range. The veteran tinclad did not get by entirely unscathed, being hit twice, though neither shell exploded.

The smoke from the guns and chimneys, combined with steam and the darkness of a starless night, quickly cut visibility for the mosquito boats. In this most literal “fog of war,” the flagboat, in the narrow river bend, was hidden from the craft above and below her. The smoke was so thick that, occasionally, the river surface could not be seen from their upper decks. The pilots and officers could see virtually nothing and the fear of collision became palpable, particularly aboard the Moose and Reindeer. Fortunately, those two were able to maneuver away from catastrophe, working their guns “with marked rapidity and precision.” A tempting target, the Moose at one time lay at a spot in the river not over 75 to 80 yards wide and directly under the Southern guns.

Although the musketry along the bank and on the hillside, was rather “annoying,” the enemy artillery fire, though rapid, was not very telling because it was not well aimed. Still, Fitch later admitted it was a miracle “that amid so many shots and volleys of musketry, we should escape without the loss of a single man and no injury [i.e., damage—MJS] to the boats.” In fact, the three ­­12-lb. shells that hit the flagboat were all duds, though one, had it not lodged while passing downward, would have exited out through her bottom.

The other two tinclads, Reindeer and Silver Lake, were also engaged, but were not as heavily handled as the Moose. The Confederates overshot the former while the latter did not get close enough to actually fight the batteries. Still, the latter was able to fire six rounds of canister and that helped keep the musketry “silent along the bank above.” Perhaps this explains how Landsman Rowland S. True confused the actions of December 4 and 6 in his later account. Still, the Pennsylvanian witnessed what he later called “a grand display of fireworks.” He would always remember the “thundering of the mighty guns, the shells screeching through the air back and forth, from one side to the other; sometimes bursting in the air, sometimes in the water throwing the water high in the air.”

This Bell’s Mills engagement, the first of several, was not a great victory for either side. It is true that Fitch’s task group was able to recapture the two steamers before they were destroyed. The gunboatman claimed his boats drove the Rebel guns back from the river and that it was his intervention which forced Kelley to destroy most of the prized grain before it could be transported and to free some of their crews.

RAdm. Porter afterwards attributed the success to the “great judgement and coolness” of the vessels’ management. Most Southern participants attribute the silence to the fact that “Kelley’s artillery ammunition was, unhappily, exhausted.” In any event, the thunder of the guns had ceased by 2:30 a.m. and the Union craft returned to Nashville via Hyde’s Ferry, arriving in late afternoon.

The night fight at Bell’s Mills was something of a tradeoff, but, in the end, the Rebels stayed away for less than a day before returning to tightly close the Cumberland west of the city. News of this development quickly spread as far as Paducah and Smithland and, by the time Fitch’s gunboats docked, river traffic toward Nashville had been halted.

Not to be forgotten in the excitement of the Bell’s Mills rescue, however, was the joint ­­army-navy expedition above Nashville begun the previous day. The N. J. Bigley, the Springfield, and the U.S. Army gunboat Newsboy reached Young’s Point, near Hartsville, about 11 a.m. Sunday morning. There the Bigley took aboard a party of timbercutters and joined the other two boats in returning to the Tennessee capital. 1st Lt. S. H. Stevens of the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, Illinois Volunteers, aboard the Newsboy, reported that the enemy had not been seen and there was no evidence that “he had been upon the river.” These largely unreported waterborne reconnaissance missions would continue.

While Forrest moved toward Murfreesboro and the defenses of both sides were improved around Nashville, Lt. Cmdr. Fitch conferred on a new plan to test the strength of the Rebel positions near Bell’s Mills. He, together with chief pilot John Ferrell, would embark the heavily protected Neosho to lead the assault, backed up by Carondelet. If their attack was successful, Lt. Glassford would then convoy a number of waiting transports on toward Clarksville. While this large group was below, the Springfield and Brilliant would steam into the Upper Cumberland to rendezvous with troops under Brig. Gen. J .H. Hammond, the Louisville and Nashville RR guardian, to check out a report on Rebel cavalry said to be crossing that stream at Carthage.7

The first heavy daylight ­­ship-shore slugfest of the Nashville campaign began at the banker’s hour of 9 a.m. on December 6 when the Federal boats started down, with the merchantmen interspersed between the gunboats. The monitor Neosho led the column, followed by the ­­stern-wheel transport Metamora; the tinclads Moose and Reindeer, lashed together; the ­­stern-wheelers Prima Donna and Arizona; the ­­side-wheelers J. F. McComb and Mercury; the tinclad Fairplay; the ­­stern-wheelers Financier and Lilly; the ­­side-wheelers New York and Lady Franklin; the tinclad Silver Lake; the ­­side-wheelers Pioneer and Magnet; and the ironclad Carondelet.

Brookmeade Greenway, Nashville. In 1864, the Cumberland River was narrower than it is today. Here one looks north toward the former location of the Bell’s Mills grist mills from an overlook located at the approximate location of the Lt. Col. David C. Kelley’s middle Confederate anti-shipping battery during the December Battle of Nashville (courtesy Mark Zimmerman).

The parade continued peacefully past Hyde’s Ferry and Robertson’s Island until 11:15 a.m., when the Neosho’s lookouts spied a large Confederate force nearly opposite Bell’s Mills apparently waiting for them. The Southern gunners and riflemen, replenished and ready for a fight, had been reinforced with two ­­12-lb. howitzers from Col. Jacob B. Biffle’s 19th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. All six fieldpieces wasted no time in opening upon the monitor from their protected emplacements behind the spurs of hills.

Second battle of Bell’s Mills, December 6, 1864. Two days after the steamer rescue, the monitor Neosho, accompanied by the Carondelet and two tinclads, led the three vessels back upriver only to find the Bell’s Mills batteries considerably strengthened. Despite heavy firing by both ironclads, Kelley could not be dislodged and succeeded in forcing the naval force to return to port (Harper’s Weekly, December 31, 1864).

At this point, the Reindeer untied and moved back upstream with the nine transports while the ­­slow-running Neosho returned fire. The monitor paddled abreast of the lower battery, stopped, rounded to, and steamed back until abreast of the middle battery, which was nearly midway between the upper and lower emplacements. Having come to about 20 to 30 yards offshore in a good position to employ her ­­anti-personnel shells, the dark ironclad spat grape and canister at Lt. Col. Kelley’s gunners from her two giant ­­11-inch cannon. As he reported later, Fitch, who had never been in action aboard an ironclad before,8 had “great faith in the endurance of the Neosho,” and believed this duel would certainly “test her strength.”

The battle between the rifled cannon ashore and the giant Dahlgren smoothbores afloat raged on for the next two and a half hours. Neosho’s turret fired slowly and deliberately and was able to scatter the grayclad infantry and sharpshooters with little difficulty. The elevated Confederate cannon were another matter and could not be hit from the angle of the river. The graycoat gunners poured a “terrific fire” at the Union gunboat, demolishing all perishable items on her deck, including the flag and signal staffs, leaving the National flag drooped over the wheelhouse.

Eventually the monitor’s summer pilothouse was hit and fell over the fighting pilothouse, obstructing the view of Fitch, Lt. Howard, and the pilots. Unable to see much, the battle stopped and she had to withdraw. As Stanley Horn put it 90 years later, Kelley was “doing good work and thoroughly enjoying himself with his guns on the river bank.”

As the Union ironclad steamed past the upper battery and while yet under cannon and musket fire, two men scrambled out of the fighting pilothouse and tied the colors to the stump of the main signal staff, the highest mast remaining. Both won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery.

Moving out of range in the bend, the warship joined the remainder of her task group, most tied at the bank near Robertson’s Island. While tars “cleared all the rubbish off of the Neosho’s deck,” including the shambles of the summer pilothouse, the top officers debated whether or not to reengage. Realizing that the ironclads could not break the blockade in the daylight remaining, the civilian steamers were ordered back to Nashville. As the light draughts and their charges steamed off, the USN attack plan was completed.

The third round of Fitch’s match vs. Kelley opened at 4:30 p.m. when the Neosho steamed below the Confederate emplacements, rounded to, came back, and stopped in midstream as before, about 30 yards off the beach. Having drawn Rebel fire on her way down, the monitor easily succeeded in getting Kelley’s men to show their locations to the Carondelet, which now joined in a spirited shelling.

Unfortunately, the Union warships together had no great advantage as the high enemy position allowed only one boat to engage the batteries at a time with any effect. That effect was minimal as the ironclads were forced to elevate their guns over the banks to clear them, thus missing the grayclads. Still, the Southern response was less than furious. Years later, Landsman True of the Silver Lake related a story he had heard of how, at one point, a canister shell from the Neosho wiped out an entire Rebel gun crew save for one man. That fellow “pluckily loaded his gun and returned the fire alone.”

After about an hour as dusk launched another cold and this time cloudy night, the Neosho steamed up again, but was only saluted by two Confederate cannon as she passed and none as she continued. The Carondelet followed her upriver to the city, making fast at the end of the tinclad line. From what they could see, all hands and nearby witnesses marveled that the Neosho had been struck over a hundred times in the day’s two battles, “but received no injury whatever.” In the most intense big gun duel of the campaign, “some six or eight men in the turret of the Neosho were somewhat bruised and scratched in the face by a shell striking the muzzle of one of the guns and exploding.” All other casualties were “too trivial to mention.” It was not publically admitted that an unexploded Parrott shell was found in Neosho’s powder magazine.

A century later, the city’s respected historian, Walter Durham, opined that “the halt to navigation added to the siege mentality that recurrently threatened soldiers and civilians alike in Nashville.” Later, another, Mark Zimmerman, pointed out the irony. The water level in the Cumberland near and over Harpeth Shoals was dropping rapidly. Even had the steamers gotten through—or had Kelley not been near Bell’s Mills—it is probable that they would have been forced back before reaching Clarksville.9

The Brilliant, sent above Nashville to assist Brig. Gen. Hammond, returned to the city on December 7, while the Springfield remained near Carthage. Crews of the two boats had won that officer’s praise for their efficiency in facilitating the army “scout through the country as far as Lebanon.” No enemy had been sighted on the riverbank from 40 miles above Carthage.

After three engagements with Lt. Col. Kelley’s gunners, the gunboatmen, as the weather turned colder, conceded him control of Cumberland navigation—at least for the moment. Until Thomas was ready for a major attack, efforts would be made to induce the wily Confederate into remaining just where he was, rather than perhaps chasing him off to a potentially worse spot, say anywhere closer to the Nashville levees.

So it was, for example, that the two ironclads, plus Moose and Reindeer, engaged Kelly once more, this time at Davidson’s Landing on December 8. Simultaneously, the Brilliant was sent back to join the Springfield in another sweep of the river around Carthage, again finding no sign of ­­cross-river Southern penetration.

“Commodore Fitch,” as Benjamin Truman told readers of The New York Times, “commands upon the Cumberland and assists in protecting our banks to a considerable extent.” Noting the presence of two ironclads, the journalist also reported there were “also several other gunboats, of various shapes and sizes, patrolling the river.” Another writer also praised the gunboats, asserting that “those who man them are celebrated in this section for their skill, bravery, and promptness in executing the part assigned them.”

Soldiers near Nashville continued to waltz toward combat over the coming fortnight as Acting RAdm. Lee was able to reach Clarksville with the ironclad Cincinnati, but the falling river level held him there. During this time, Confederate Brig. Gen. Hylan B. Lyon, under November orders from Gen. Hood to recruit soldiers and create a diversion, prepared to cross the Cumberland and attack Clarksburg, hoping to destroy the Yankee rail lifeline between Louisville and Nashville. It was his activities that the USN tinclads had ascended the river to reconnoiter.

On the evening of December 9, Lyon with 800 followers reached the Cumberland near Cumberland City, about 20 miles below Clarksville, where they set up a pair of ­­12-pounder howitzers. These quickly took the grain steamer Thomas E. Tutt and, in the dark, fired upon other steamers en route up from Fort Donelson.

The next day, three more transports were captured, used to ferry troops to the eastern bank, and then, with four barges, burned. Two other vessels escaped, allowing the alerted Federals to stop further traffic from ascending the Cumberland. Also a correspondent from The Times of London, relatively new to Nashville, sent off a report on local military matters, which his readers in the UK and New York would see 12 days later. The dispatch began, “The situation in Tennessee begins to inspire alarm in Washington. Confederate batteries, 14 miles west of Nashville, effectually blocked the Cumberland, and repulsed all efforts by gunboats to dislodge them.”

Also that Saturday, the Peosta began a Lower Tennessee River reconnaissance toward Johnsonville. While approaching White Oak Island, about a mile from Danville Bridge, two barges were discovered and taken in tow, having been left by the Federals at Johnsonville after Forrest’s raid and employed by Lyon days earlier to get across. The old gunboat continued down as far as Paris Landing, burning all craft of any description found en route.

Although Lyon drove in scouts sent out from Clarksville, it became increasingly clear that the Confederate raiders would head into Kentucky rather than attack the river post. Reacting to information that Lyon planned to burn the railroad bridge at Bowling Green, Maj. Gen. Thomas ordered all troops railroading to Nashville from Louisville diverted to protect the key crossing point. At the same time, several Missouri regiments, en route to Nashville aboard the steamer Masonic, turned back at Clarksville and returned to Fort Donelson. Several other troop boats, including the Kentucky, would do the same.

Far up the Cumberland at this time, a heavily guarded steamer from Mound City was en route to Louisville with urgently requested ammunition. Under the command of squadron flag lieutenant Lt. Frederick J. Naile, the steamer Benefit was protected by the tinclads Hastings, Victory, and St. Clair. Upon her arrival, the transport would transship her cargo and send it on to Nashville via the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Naile would then shepherd two supply steamers with barges on to Clarksville.

Acting RAdm. Lee at Clarksville was advised by “Old Pap” Thomas on a bitterly cold December 11 (minus 10 degrees F) regarding Lyon’s activities. As was usually the case with Confederate mounted raider activity, rumors were rife as to where the feared horsemen might strike next. In fact, that Sunday, Lyon and his men diverted into Kentucky, arriving at Eddyville, via Hopkinsville and Cadiz, three days later. His Blue Grass raid, continued through January 3, resulted in the burning of courthouses in seven counties. Although they generated considerable concern in Union military circles, the Confederate’s activities, frustrated by the weather and manpower difficulties, impacted neither Thomas’ logistics nor Cumberland river operations.

Also on December 11, Lt. Cmdr. Fitch dispatched the light draught Springfield to Stone’s River, near Murfreesboro, where several contract steamers and barges were gathering in a supply of wood for Nashville’s campfires and fireplaces. Fearing their capture by Hood’s advancing riders, the military wished them quickly returned. Despite the cold and the strong northwest wind that blew across the frozen landscape, the tinclad successfully convoyed the boats to safety by evening, leaving a large wood stockpile that was burned by the Confederates the next morning.

The opening of what all suspected to be the climatic ball was now postponed by a spike in one of the most severe winters in memory. The suffering from the cold, snow, and rain was intense among troops and civilians alike, though many sailors were warm aboard their boats. Often wearing icicles, the light craft of the Nashville flotilla remained active in the cold. The mighty Neosho and Carondelet, undoubtedly covered in some places topside with frozen snow, remained tied to the bank largely unable to move due to the low river stage. The Naile convoy arrived at Clarksville on December 12, providing news of Lyon’s ride. Finally, the weather broke, with much fog and mist.

Under cover of poor visibility, the Federal army of Maj. Gen. Thomas launched a counterattack out of Nashville on December 15 against the lines of Gen. Hood. From 6 a.m., the men aboard the vessels of the Nashville naval flotilla could hear, though not see, the apparent movement of the U.S. Army. At 7:20, the Neosho headed down the river followed by the Carondelet, Moose, Reindeer, Fairplay, Brilliant and Silver Lake. Due to the delays and bafflement caused by the fog ashore, the honor of firing the first shots in the actual Battle of Nashville went to the U.S. Navy.

USS Carondelet. Based on an 1864 drawing by L. W. Hastings, USN, this lithograph, sold widely in 1865, was published by the Cincinnati firm of Middleton, Strobridge & Co. and included a listing of the vessel’s most famous engagements. Even before the Civil War concluded, this veteran, one of the original seven “City Series” ironclads built in 1861, was the most famous Western waters warship (Naval History and Heritage Command).

This engagement was not only the last big clash of arms in the Civil War Western theater, but the climactic ­­large-scale action for the Mississippi Squadron. So it is somewhat ironic to note that, as at Buffington Island in July 1863, the warships did not know for certain the location of the Union cavalrymen who were to move in behind the Confederate artillery emplacements opposite Bell’s Mills. Expecting that they would soon be along, it was decided that while waiting the ironclads would gain the attention of Lt. Col. Kelley’s gunners. The morning was occupied in a leisurely duel with several graycoat cannon prior to the arrival and engagement of Union cavalry after lunch.

The day’s fighting around the city resulted in a Confederate disaster, despite the late Union start and the coming of darkness. Hood’s left wing was collapsed and Thomas was able to order a general advance along his entire line.

As the fog lifted from the river on December 16, the Neosho, Moose, Carondelet, Reindeer, and Fairplay steamed downriver to Bell’s Mills. Not knowing exactly what to expect, the boats were cleared for action in case any Confederates remained. Upon arrival at the old battle site, the gunboatmen found that Federal land forces were in entire control of the area.

The shooting part of the navy’s war at Nashville was over, though waterborne vigilance was maintained. During the day, the tinclads Springfield, Reindeer, Silver Lake, and Fairplay were dispatched on reconnaissance toward Stone’s River. The Army of Tennessee situation deteriorated throughout the 16th to a point where its shattered formations rushed ­­pell-mell in sleet and rain, not stopping until they were south of Brentwood after dark. Only then, in terrible weather that spared them instant Union pursuit, were scattered units able to commence regrouping.

“The night that followed was strangely silent,” wrote Walter Durham in 1987, “the last cannonading having stopped at dark with the flight of the rebels.” As occasional lightning flashes rent the darkness, stragglers could be seen exiting the battlefield, either south or toward Nashville.

The four Federal light draughts returned from their Stone’s River patrols on December 17 to report the river quiet. Their men may also have been warmed by a headline in the latest edition of the Nashville Daily Union, which shouted: “The Rebels Completely Routed. They Flee in a Perfect Panic.” Maj. Gen. Thomas now messaged his quartermaster department expressing his belief that the “Cumberland River is perfectly safe” and conveying his wish that arrangements be made to “resume shipments on the river to Nashville from below.”10

Witnessed by a good crowd of dockworkers and others watching from the bank, the first ­­post-battle return convoy from Nashville to Smithland departed in two groups beginning at 11:30 a.m. on December 18. The parade was led by the Neosho, under tow of the supply boat Magnet, and was followed ten minutes later by the Moose and Reindeer, which led eight transports and the Springfield and ­­tail-end Silver Lake. At noon, two steamers and a hospital boat departed, guarded by the Fairplay. “We open the Cumberland today,” chief quartermaster James L. Donaldson cheerfully wrote to Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs after witnessing the departure. “Transports here have left under convoy of the gunboats.”

USS Fairplay. The earliest tinclad for which an image exists, the Fairplay joined the Cumberland River flotilla in September 1862, providing convoy protection and engaging in riverbank combat on that stream through the end of the war. An escort in the first convoy north after the Nashville campaign, she is shown as captured by Bell & Sheridan of Franklin Street, Clarksville, Tennessee (Naval History and Heritage Command).

Perhaps saluted by the Newsboy as it passed, the convoy made its way slowly down the Cumberland. Beyond Robertson’s Island, Davidson’s Landing, and Bell’s Landing and Mills it steamed, trailing a great cloud of chimney smoke. The sites of recent bombardment could now be safely passed, with damaged homes, busted trees, and shell craters clearly visible. Gen. Hood, now covered by Forrest, simultaneously continued to flee toward Alabama and escape near or in the Muscle Shoals area. Later in the day, Maj. Gen. Thomas wrote to Acting RAdm. Lee, with whom he was in regular contact, seeking additional support.

Given that the Southerners were believed to have pontoon escape bridges functional near the mouth of the Duck River and 147 miles further on at Florence, could not, Thomas inquired, one or two ironclads and several gunboats go down the Tennessee and destroy them? If they hurried, they might intercept the arriving Confederates and prevent their escape. Additionally, the seaman was asked to provide convoy escorts for army troop boats dispatched up the river “either from Johnsonville or Clifton.”

Lee wired Thomas agreeing to push a suitable naval force up the Tennessee River as soon as the boats arrived. If there was water enough in the river, it was anticipated that the gunboats could help cut off Hood’s retreat. At the same time, Lt. Moreau Forrest, commander of the Eleventh District, was instructed to support the reoccupation of Decatur by troops under Brig. Gen. Granger.

After battling rain, wind, and the shifting currents of the Cumberland for 18 hours, the ­­Smithland-bound convoy reached Clarksville at dark on December 19. It would continue north from there the next morning minus Reindeer, Fairy, and Silver Lake. Those escorts joined Lee’s departure with the troop convoy in pursuit of the Army of Tennessee.

Also on December 19, Confederate Brig. Gen. Philip D. Roddy, commanding at Decatur, was ordered to uniquely participate in Hood’s rescue. The 15 pontoon bridges he had found when occupying the town of Decatur at the end of November were to be floated down the Tennessee to Bainbridge, a village on the river at the foot of Muscle Shoals, six miles above Florence.

Bainbridge was not a regular ferry location, but it was hoped that the gunboats could or would not chance steaming over the shoals to interfere with any crossing. Thus the floating bridge would be thrown across with a reasonable expectation of being able to accommodate the retreating butternuts.11

Thomas and Lee, urged on by Washington, D.C., generals and other leaders, pursued the retreating Confederates as they sped back toward Florence. A spirited defense was made by Hood’s rear guard, vigorously led by Maj. Gen. Forrest. According to Stanley Horn, the butternut soldiers sang a parody of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”:

But now I’m going to leave you;

My heart is full of woe.

I’m going back to Georgia to see my Uncle Joe.

You may talk about your Beauregards and sing of General Lee

But the gallant Hood of Texas played hell in Tennessee.

Acting RAdm. Lee’s departed up the Tennessee from Paducah on December 20, a day after Roddy began shifting his pontoons to Bainbridge. Drawing from all squadron boats available, Lee’s task force was far larger and more formidable, gun for gun, than that which Lt. Cmdr. Fitch had at Nashville. Still, many of the units were the same: Neosho, and Pittsburg, the timberclad Lexington, as well as the tinclads Naumkeag, St. Clair, Reindeer, Silver Lake, Fairy, and the slower Peosta.

Over the next week, the leading five light draughts proceeded with speed, destroying flatboats and ferrys en route. The Peosta and ironclads followed, convoying the troop boats. Additionally, the dreadful wet weather had increased the water depth somewhat, making operations further up the river at least feasible. The possibility of the craft reaching the butternuts “was thought not improbable” even by the Confederates themselves.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Roddy’s pontoons arrived at Bainbridge in the cold and drizzle, having been easily floated over the shoals due to somewhat deeper water levels. Here, engineer units were assembled to get a bridge across the ­­swift-flowing Tennessee. Additionally, as other Southerners crossed Shoal Creek, about two miles from the river, they threw up primitive earthworks “to protect the bridge in case the enemy should move on us from below.”

Other Confederate cannon were mounted at Florence, also prepared to contest Lee’s passage. Inland of the Tennessee, Forrest’s valiant command delayed the Federal pursuit as long as possible, allowing grayclad soldiers (many barefoot) a chance to retreat.

As Lee’s craft dropped anchor off Chickasaw, above Eastport, but below Florence, on Christmas Eve, a message was dispatched from Maj. Gen. Thomas recommending that the ­­follow-on boats, which he expected to convoy troop transports to Eastport, remain at that point until Hood’s intentions were clearly known. The weather, warmer for a week, now turned colder.

On Christmas Day, the survivors of Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham’s corps reached the Tennessee River. Work was intensified that Sunday on refurbishing, assembling, and deploying Roddy’s pontoon or floating bridge across the Tennessee. For protection, light gun emplacements and field entrenchments were dug at the north end of the bridge.

As the Rebels labored, the Neosho (with Lee embarked), Reindeer, and Fairy advanced upon Florence, intent upon destroying gun emplacements reported at that town. The ironclads Carondelet and Pittsburg drew too much water to accompany and were left at Eastport.

Tennessee River cliffs near Florence, Alabama. On Christmas Day 1864 as Confederates retreating from Nashville worked to bridge the Tennessee River, the Union monitor Neosho, accompanied by the tinclads Reindeer and Fairy, advanced upon Florence, intent upon destroying Dixie gun emplacements reported at that town. From the bluff opposite Florence, Rebel infantry opened upon the Federal boats with musketry, while from the city side they were targeted by two four-gun batteries. After a half-hour cannonade from both parties, the Southerners ceased shooting and the Northern craft returned downstream (Library of Congress).

From the bluff opposite Florence, Rebel infantry opened upon the Federal boats with musketry while from the city side they were targeted by two ­­four-gun batteries. After a ­­half-hour cannonade from both parties, the Southerners ceased shooting and the Union craft returned downstream. They were unable to interfere with Cheatham’s work even though the butternuts “heard the gunboats all day in the direction of Florence.”

Work continued on the Bainbridge bridge all night and at sunrise supply wagons and artillery began to cross.

On Boxing Day morning, Maj. Gen. Forrest and his men were able to briefly halt the Union ground pursuit at Sugar Creek in Giles County (some two miles north of the state line) during a ­­five-hour fight often recorded as the last of the campaign. At the same time, the Neosho and her light consorts steamed slowly up the Tennessee, once more intent upon attacking their enemy’s batteries. As they advanced, it was found that only the tinclads could proceed, forcing the admiral to shift his flag. When within two to three miles of their goal, the two light draughts were assaulted by three Confederate batteries which forced Lee to head back downriver and rejoin the monitor.

After transferring back aboard the Neosho, Lee ordered his trio to move up again. The gunboats proceeded only a few more miles when they were again pounded, this time by two masked batteries. As in her earlier December duel with Col. Kelley at Bell’s Mills, the ironclad received much attention, being hit 27 times, before all withdrew.

Three Federal sailors were killed aboard the gunboats during this contest with five others wounded. There were no Rebel casualties in this fight and the vessels did not return upriver that day. This respite, plus the addition of more pontoons that arrived by wagon, allowed the bulk of Hood’s saved wagons and artillery to get across. Having held off the gunboats, Cheatham next moved his troops across the floating bridge, beginning at 3 a.m. Toward morning on December 27, Maj. Gen. Forrest and his rear guard began marching across, unmolested.

As daylight approached, Acting RAdm. Lee again wanted to attack the Confederate evacuation, this time by taking the monitor over the shoals. When consulted, his chief pilot pointed out that navigation in the Bainbridge stretch remained every bit as dangerous as it was the previous day. The Neosho, he cautioned his ­­blue-water superior, drew but five feet of water and could not make it through. The swift and shallow waters were too rocky, too uneven, and too dangerous and she should remain downstream.

Brushing off the recommendation, Lee ordered the warship ahead. Within a short distance, a thickening fog and a “sudden and rapid fall of the river” conspired to convince his pilot to refuse going on the shoals, a decision that was within his right to make. The squadron commander later suggested that, but for these misfortunes, he could “have succeeded in reaching Bainbridge with an effective force, capable of destroying Hood’s pontoons.” As it was, by evening, all of the Confederates would be safely over the Tennessee.

The frustrated Union generals were, with the exception of Thomas, not particularly happy with the role played by the Mississippi Squadron in this part of the pursuit campaign. Cavalry chief Maj. Gen. James Wilson, who led the charge against Forrest, was told by local people that “the gunboats were within a mile of the Rebel bridge at Bainbridge and … could have reached it without trouble.” Federal horse soldiers, he decried, “reached the north bank of the river just as the bridge had been swung to the south side and the last of the Rebels were disappearing in the distance.”

In his memoirs, Wilson pinned the failure of the Neosho and her consorts to reach and destroy the pontoon bridge on “the independence of the navy and the natural timidity of a ­­deep-water sailor in a ­­shoal-water river.” In his contribution to the Battles and Leaders series, he was far blunter. “The failure of the light draught gunboats on the Tennessee River to reach and destroy the pontoon bridge which Hood had kept in position,” he wrote, “insured his safe retreat.”

In approximately the same ­­mid-December timeframe during which he had requested assistance from Acting RAdm. Lee, Maj. Gen. Thomas put another plan into action designed to cut off Hood’s retreat or force its redirection. The Provisional Corps, under Brig. Gen. James B. Steedman, was ordered to Decatur, via Murfreesboro and Stevenson. Once on the Upper Tennessee River, it was to capture the town that Union forces had evacuated a month earlier.

While Lee was engaged at ­­Florence-Bainbridge, the Eleventh District tinclads General Sherman, General Burnside, and General Thomas assisted Steedman. Having arrived two miles above the town on the north side of the river that morning, the 2nd brigade of the Provisional Corps awaited the arrival of additional soldiers coming by water from Bridgeport under escort of the General Grant and Stone River.

When the troop boats arrived with the 2nd brigade, their men, primarily African Americans, “landed in fine style” on the south side of the river opposite the 1st brigade. The latter was soon thereafter ferried across. As soon as these men began to go ashore, they were taken under fire by a section of Confederate artillery.

While the Rebel shells fell near or burst over the Union landing beaches, Lt. Forrest ordered his gunboats to move up and provide close gunfire support. As the Federals advanced upon Decatur, the Confederate shore batteries engaged the Eleventh District gunboats in a noisy duel. The General Burnside and the General Thomas were each hulled at least twice, with three sailors killed and several wounded between them.

Taking Decatur was a tougher nut, it turned out, than many had expected. In the end, however, Confederate forces evacuated the town. Acting Master Morton now attempted to take the General Thomas over the Elk River Shoals to further interfere with any Rebel crossing plans. Unhappily, the Tennessee had by now fallen and become too low to allow Tinclad No. 61 across. The tinclads of the Eleventh District retired from the scene on December 30, coming to anchor as a group off Bridgeport, Alabama.

USS General Sherman off Decatur, Alabama. While gunboats from the Lower Tennessee River engaged Confederate batteries protecting the Army of Tennessee bridgehead near Florence in the days after Christmas 1864, those on the Upper Tennessee were tasked with supporting the U.S Army push to recapture Decatur abandoned the month before. During the ensuing fight, two of the four 11th District tinclads were hulled, with three men killed and several wounded between them (Naval History and Heritage Command).

Between December 25 and 28, the remnants of the Confederate Army of Tennessee managed to cross the big river to Alabama and make for its final rendezvous at Tupelo, Mississippi. The Federal army, in warm if not hot pursuit, could not catch up, though it did manage to pick up many prisoners and much Confederate supply.

The ­­two-week siege and ­­two-day Battle of Nashville, followed by the retreat of the overwhelmed Confederates, was both a worrisome and ultimately pleasing climax to years of ­­large-scale military operations in central Tennessee. Even as somewhat subdued holiday festivities were enjoyed, news came that an end to the war might be coming sooner than later. Cannon fire disturbed the cold on December 28, but instead of conflict, were revealed to be salvos of celebration. News had arrived that Maj. Gen. Sherman had captured Savannah, Georgia, on December 21.

Writing to Maj. Gen. Thomas from Eastport on January 2, 1865, Acting RAdm.Lee confirmed that Hood was across the Tennessee. The Confederates, he suggested, were nearing Corinth, 30 miles west of his anchorage. What did the theater commander require of the USN at this point, he wondered. Writing back from Pulaski, Tennessee, Thomas prioritized a need for convoys and for “keeping the river open if possible.”12

Hood’s escape across the Upper Tennessee River all but ended the Nashville campaign for Lee’s Mississippi Squadron, except for one engagement.

On January 11, Maj. Gen. Thomas wrote to Lt. Forrest at Bridgeport asking that his tinclads mount a new and vigorous patrol of the Upper Tennessee River to catch remnants of the escaping 6th Kentucky Cavalry (CSA), under Brig. Gen. Hylan B. Lyon, that had been raiding in the Cumberland River region and Kentucky during the Nashville campaign. The General Grant and General Thomas were sent to assist.

Over the next several days, Lyon and his men reached Deposit Ferry, Alabama, where they took shelter on the property of Confederate sympathizer Cauis G. Gennel, recently of Guntersville, Alabama. On the night of January 14/15, 150 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry troopers surrounded the Rebel camp at Red Hill and charged in at dawn. Lyon was among the first of a hundred men captured and was placed in charge of Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Arthur Lyon (no relation). As the fighting raged, the Union hero reached for a warm coat requested by his captive, who grabbed a gun, shot the young man, and escaped into the darkness.

The news of the sergeant’s death, the only Federal casualty of the operation, brought Northern sadness and anger both afloat and ashore. Union troops pursued Lyon and his stragglers through Brown’s Valley toward the Tennessee, burning several plantations. Learning of events from riders, the patrolling gunboats raised steam and joined in vengeful chase.

Late in the morning, the pair of tinclads approached the town of Guntersville, which Union cavalry soon surrounded. What was reported as a spirited engagement followed, during which the tinclads pounded the town with over 50 explosive shells. The General Grant was hit once, but suffered no damage. At noon, 40 bluejackets were landed and, despite pleas from two Northern sympathizers, the “hotbed of rebellion” was torched. Only seven buildings remained standing, all damaged, including the Marshall County Courthouse, the city jail, the Guntersville Hotel, a schoolhouse, the Masonic Hall, and the residences of the two pro–Federal men, which still stand today.

Simultaneous to the Guntersville incident, Maj. Gen. Thomas, with his staff, was en route up the Tennessee to Eastport aboard one of 20 troop transports guarded by the ironclad Carondelet and four tinclads. The group arrived at its destination within several days, finding Lee and his ­­earlier-arrived gunboats, about 50 other steamers, and “the hills in the vicinity white with camp tents.”

As Thomas’ Eastport strength grew, regular troop rotations were maintained via Nashville convoys, via Johnsonville. Toward evening on January 27, the old Lexington shepherded seven transports from Eastport to a Johnsonville anchorage, including the ­­stern-wheeler Eclipse, which had aboard part of the 9th Indiana Volunteer Artillery with four guns and ammunition. Before dawn the next morning, a fire somehow started aboard that caught the shells and caused a large explosion and fire. ­­Damage-control parties and medical personnel from the timberclad as well as the tinclad Silver Lake and two nearby transports were unable to save the vessel, which sank with 140 dead and 78 wounded.

Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee completed its retreat back into Mississippi by the end of January. Pursuing Union forces, knowing that it was spent, allowed it to melt away, content in the knowledge that their actions since ­­mid-December had all but finished the campaign in the West. Indeed, as historian Richard Gildrie has put it, the massive Union victory “effectively ended the war between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains.”

While Hood was in Tennessee, Maj. Gen. Sherman’s march to the sea virtually destroyed Rebel ability to send food and fuel to Virginia from the lower South via Georgia. The focus for Civil War military action now turned east, where Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had besieged the Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg while Sherman and RAdm. David Dixon Porter set about shutting down Confederate succor from the sea by capturing Fort Fisher and Wilmington.13

1. Mark M. Boatner, 3rd, The Civil War Dictionary (New York: David McKay, 1959), 308–309; U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (128 vols.; Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1880–1901), Series I, Vol. 45, Pt. 1, pp. 32–34 (cited hereafter as OR, followed by the series number, volume number, part number, if any, and page[s]); Wiley Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind—The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin & Nashville (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 84–120; Eric A. Jacobson and Richard A. Rupp, For Cause and for Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin (Franklin, TN: O'More Publishing, 2007), 41–75; James M. McPherson, ed., Battle Chronicles of the Civil War: 1864 (New York: Macmillan, 1989), 179–182.

2. The Carondelet was at Memphis undergoing repairs following her recent White River sojourn. Capt. Henry Walke, her first captain, later called her the "most famous of all the river gunboats of the Civil War" and claimed she "was in more battles and encounters with the enemy (about fourteen or fifteen times; and under fire, it is believed, longer and oftener) than any other vessel in the Navy," including those which went to sea. She was the only one of her class to directly engage a Confederate armorclad, the C.S.S. Arkansas in July 1862. U.S. Navy Department, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (31 vols.; Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1894–1922), Series I, Vol. 26, 627, 717, 719 (cited hereafter as OR, followed by the series number, volume number, part number, if any, and page[s]); ORN, II, 1: 52; OR, I, 52, 1: 712; John Hagerty, "Letter, November 15, 1864," in "Dear Maggie… The Letters of John Hagerty, 1st Class Fireman, U.S.S. Carondelet to Margaret “Maggie” O'Neil, September 8, 1864–May 28, 1865," Letters of John Hagerty homepage, http://www.webnation.com/~spectrum/­­usn-cw/diaries/HagertyJohnHome.htm (accessed April 10, 2000); Lucius F. Hubbard, "Minnesota in the Battles of Nashville, December 15 and 16, 1864: Read Before the Minnesota Commandery of the Loyal Legion of the United States, March 14, 1905," Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Vol. 12, http://memory.loc.gov/­­cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/lhbum:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28lhbum0 (accessed January 9, 2006); Henry Walke, Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War in the United States on the Southern and Western Waters During the Years 1861, 1862 and 1863 with the History of That Period Compared and Corrected from Authentic Sources (New York: F. R. Reed and Company, 1877), 53.

3. Byrd Douglas, Steamboatin’ on the Cumberland (Nashville: Tennessee Book Company, 1961), 162–163; Chicago Daily Tribune, November 24, 1864. Luckily for the Union, Gen. Hood elected to keep Forrest with him, allowing only a few mounted units to be split off and sent against logistical targets along the Cumberland. "No longer would this ingenious leader be left," wrote Douglas, "to harass Thomas." On the other hand, Maj. Gen. Thomas would continue to overestimate Forrest's strength and threat, with his concern for "the devil" a major reason Nashville was placed into a defensive position. Douglas, Steamboatin’ on the Cumberland, 164; Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind—The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah, 278.

4. ORN, I, 26: 632–635, 647, 746; OR, I, 45, 1, 1131–1133, 1135; OR, I. 41, 4, 693, 707; Nashville Daily Union, November 25, 1864; Nashville Daily Dispatch, November 26, 1864; Walter T. Durham, Reluctant Partners: Nashville and the Union—July 1, 1863, to June 30, 1865 (Nashville: The Tennessee Historical Society, 1987), pp.205–206; Earl J. Hess, Civil War Logistics: A Study in Military Transportation (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2017), 198–199; Henry Stone, "Repelling Hood's Invasion of Tennessee," in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, edited by Robert V. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel (4 vols.; New York: The Century Company, 1884–1887; reprint, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1956), 443; Minnesota, Board of Commissioners on Publication of History of Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861–1865 (2 vols.; St. Paul: Printed for the State of Minnesota by the Pioneer Press Company, 1889), I, 274. The manner by which Col. Lewis B. Parsons and the USQMD obtained its charters for this trip became a matter of considerable controversy portrayed as “the strong, but not entirely impartial hand of the Government.” National Intelligencer, December 5, 1864.

5. ORN, I, 26: 636–637, 647–648; OR, I, 45, 1: 34; OR, I, 45, 2: 3, 17; Hubbard, "Minnesota in the Battles of Nashville, December 15 and 16, 1864…”; Edwin G. Huddleston, The Civil War in Middle Tennessee (Nashville: Nashville Banner, 1965), 118–119; Nashville Daily Press, November 30–December 2, 1864; John E. Fisher, They Rode with Forrest and Wheeler: A Chronicle of Five Tennessee Brothers’ Service in the Confederate Western Cavalry (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., Inc., 1995), 161; Robert Selph Henry, “First with the Most” Forrest (Indianapolis, IN: ­­Bobbs-Merrill, 1944), 399–400; Stanley F. Horn, The Army of Tennessee: A Military History (Indianapolis, IN: ­­Bobbs-Merrill, 1941; reprint, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968), 404; Horn, The Decisive Battle of Nashville (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1956), 30–31; James F. Rusling, Men and Things I Saw in Civil War Days, rev. ed. (New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1914), 87–88; Stanley F. Horn, comp., Tennessee’s War, 1861–1865: Described by Participants (Nashville: Tennessee Civil War Centennial Commission, 1965), 321–322; Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind—The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah, 272–274; Durham, Reluctant Partners, 211–214; Louis A. La Garde, Description of the Models of Hospital Steam Vessels from the Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C. (War Department Exhibit, No. 2; Chicago: World’s Columbian Exhibition, 1892), 4, 8. Smith's units, now collectively named with several other provisional groups as the Army of the Tennessee Detachment, were debarked from their boats on December 1–2 and were moved into line of battle on a range of hills two miles southwest of town. There they threw up earthworks and settled down to wait, guarding the right of the Union defense. The center was held by the IV Corps under Wood, while Schofield's XXIII Corps was on the left.

6. OR, I, 45, 1: 79–83, 764; OR, I, 45, 2: 18, 27, 191; ORN, I, 26: 636–639, 646; Chicago Daily Tribune, December 9, 1864; New York Daily Tribune, December 9, 1864; Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind, 281; Henry, “First with the Most” Forrest , 401; Mark Zimmerman, Battle of Nashville Preservation Society Guide to Civil War Nashville (Nashville, TN: Lithographics, Inc., 2004), 49; Stanley F. Horn, "Nashville During the Civil War," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, IV (March 1945), 19; Thomas L. Connelly, Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971), 508; James Lee McDonough, Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2004), 141–142; Steven E Woodward, Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990), 301; Byrd Douglas, Steamboatin’ on the Cumberland (Nashville: The Tennessee Book Company, 1961), 165; Durham, Reluctant Partners, 214–215; Fisher, They Rode with Forrest and Wheeler, 162; John Allan Wyeth, Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (New York: Harper & Bros., 1904), 547;; Thomas Jordan and J. Pryor. The Campaigns of Lieut. Gen. N. B. Forrest and of Forrest’s Cavalry (New Orleans and New York: Blelock & Co., 1868; reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1996), 636, Smith, “Le Roy Fitch Meets the Devil’s Parson,” 44. One reporter characterized Kelley as “a bold, desperate, and notorious partisan.” He was a man who “threatened to blow every gunboat out of the river, whenever the opportunity presented itself” (Cincinnati Daily Gazette, December 8, 1864).

7. ORN, I, 26: 639–648, 758; OR, I, 45, 1: 631–632, 652, 654, 658, 660, 744, 754–755; OR, I, 45, 2: 30–31, 36–37, 43, 48–49, 51–52, 54, 651, 657; Nashville Daily Dispatch, December 6, 1864; Nashville Daily Times and True Union, December 8, 1864; Cincinnati Daily Gazette, December 8, 1864; Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, December 14, 1864; The New York Times, December 8, 1864; Chicago Daily Tribune, December 8, 1864; The Daily South Carolinian, December 18, 1864; McDonough, Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble, 144; David Dixon Porter, Naval History of the Civil War (New York: Sherman, 1886; reprint, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998), 803–804; Alfred T. Mahan, The Gulf and Inland Waters, Vol. 3 of The Navy in the Civil War (New York: Scribner's, 1883), 215–216; Rowland Stafford True, "Life Aboard a Gunboat," Civil War Times Illustrated, IX (February 1971), 39–40; Durham, Reluctant Partners, 226; Jordan and Pryor, The Campaigns of Lieut. Gen. N. B. Forrest, 630–631, 636; Wyeth, Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 547–548; Walke, Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War in the United States, 124; Mike Fitzpatrick, "Miasma Fogs and River Mists," Military Images, XXV (January–February 2004), 29; Smith, “Le Roy Fitch Meets the Devil’s Parson,” 45–48. In a correspondent’s report on the first Bell’s Mills fight, it was related that the Confederates had “established a battery on a bluff 14 miles down the river.” It continued: “seven gunboats went down and engaged this battery without dislodging the rebels from their position. The gunboats returned…, one of them considerably damaged.” The New York Times, December 9, 1864.

8. The young commodore’s reliance may have been bolstered by accounts from the Neosho’s captain, Lt. Samuel Howard, who had served as pilot of the original Monitor during her battle with the CSS Virginia in March 1862.

9. ORN, I, 26: 650–652; Bern Anderson, By Sea and by River: The Naval History of the Civil War (New York: Knopf, 1962), 266; Durham, Reluctant Partners, 218; True, "Life Aboard a Gunboat," 40; James McCague, The Cumberland (Rivers of America; New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973), 180; Horn, The Decisive Battle of Nashville, 80; Zimmerman, Battle of Nashville Preservation Society Guide to Civil War Nashville, 9; Zimmerman, Iron Maidens and the Devil’s Daughters (Nashville, TN: Zimco Publications, 2019), 153. Strangely enough, when on December 29 Acting RAdm. Lee sent in the reports relating to the second Bell’s Mills action, he only recommended that Neosho quartermaster John Ditzenback be given the award. Still somewhat new to Western waters, he may have been under the impression that Moose pilot Ferrell, as a riverboat pilot, was carried on the rolls as a volunteer officer, and thus did not qualify for the award. The Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, no fan of Lee's, reviewed the case in greater detail and, as a result, also placed Ferrell on the qualifying list. Both medals were authorized under General Order No. 59, June 22, 1865. Terry Foenander, "Fact File No. 1," Union Navy Medal of Honor Fact File, http://home.ozconnect.net/tfoen/mohfactfile1.htm. (accessed March 12, 2006).

10. ORN, I, 26: 184, 650–651, 653–659, 661–662, 668, 688, 758; ORN, I, 27: 153; OR, I,45, 1: 37–39, 45, 128, 599–601, 606,765, 803–804; OR, I, 45, 2: 55, 70, 97–101, 105–106, 117, 145, 152–154, 160, 180–185, 191–192, 194, 196–197, 205–206, 210, 213, 231, 245; Nashville Daily Union, December 17, 20, 22, 1864; Cincinnati Daily Gazette, December 8, 1864; Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, December 14, 24, 1864. Nashville Daily Press, December 12, 14, 1864; The New York Times, December 12, 18–19, 24–25, 1864; Chicago Daily Tribune, December 12, 16, 18–19, 1864; National Intelligencer, December 20 1864; The London Times, December 24, 1864; New York Daily Tribune, December 27, 1864; Stephen Starr, The Union Cavalry in the Civil War, Vol. 3: The War in the West, 1861–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 284–285; James H. Wilson, Under the Old Flag (2 vols.; New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1912), II, 109–112; Wyeth, Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 555–559; Isaac R. Sherwood, Memories of the War (Toledo, OH: The H. J. Crittenden Co., 1923), 149; Durham, Reluctant Partners, 237, 245, 261, 266, 268; McDonough, Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble, 149–151, 157,176–177; Horn, The Decisive Battle of Nashville, 39, 84, 150–152; Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind—The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah, 319–350; McCague, The Cumberland, 180; Zimmerman, Battle of Nashville Preservation Society Guide to Civil War Nashville, 69; Brian Steel Wills, “Brig. Gen. Hylan Benton Lyon,” in Bruce S. Allardice and Lawrence Lee Hewitt, eds., Kentuckians in Gray: Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 180–185 (whole 180–186); Sandi Gorin, “Courthouses Burned During the Civil War,” Ohio County, Kentucky, History, August 13, 2012,” http://ohiocountykentuckyhistory.blogspot.com/2012/08/­­courthouses-burned-during-civil-war.html (accessed May 23, 2020); B. L. Roberson, “The Courthouse Burnin’est General,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly XXIII (December 1964), 372–378; Edward M. Coffman, ed., “Memoirs of Hylan B. Lyon, Brigadier General,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, XVIII (March 1959), 35–53; Benjamin F. Cooling, To the Battles of Franklin and Nashville and Beyond (Knoxville: University to Tennessee Press, 2011), 311–317. Lyon commanded the Kentucky Brigade under Forrest and was present at the November Johnsonville assault before assuming duties as Confederate commander of the Department of Western Kentucky. His most compete biography is Dan Lee, General Hylan B. Lyon: A Kentucky Confederate and the War in the West (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2019).

11. OR, I, 45, 1: 618–619, 632, 755; OR, I, 45, 2: 231, 251, 263; ORN, I, 26: 670–673; Nashville Daily Union, December 17, 1864; Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind—The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah, 401, 416; Dudley Taylor Cornish and Virginia Jeans Laas, Lincoln’s Lee: The Life of Samuel Phillips Lee, United States Navy, 1812–1897 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986), 148; O. C. Hood, The Army of Tennessee in Retreat (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, Inc., 2018), 96; Mark Zimmerman, Mud, Blood & Cold Steel: The Retreat from Nashville, December 1864 (Nashville, TN: Zimco Publications, 2020), 106–107, 117.

12. OR, I, 45, 1: 674, 732; OR, I, 45, 2: 357,371, 507, 731; ORN, I, 26: 672–679. 690; ORN, I, 27: 9–28; Nashville Daily Dispatch, December 28, 1864; Chicago Daily Tribune, January 10, 1865; Starr, The Union Cavalry in the Civil War, Vol. 3: The War in the West, 1861–1865, 421, 423; Robert Selph Henry, “First with the Most” Forrest (Indianapolis, IN: ­­Bobbs-Merrill, 1944), p.416; Stanley F. Horn, The Army of Tennessee (Indianapolis, IN: ­­Bobbs-Merrill, 1941), 420–421; Horn, Nashville During the Civil War, 19; McDonough, Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble, 273–274; Wyeth, Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest , 564–575; Hood, The Army of Tennessee in Retreat, 144, 150–152, 156–158; I. W. Fowler, “Crossing the Tennessee River,” Confederate Veteran, XXVIII (October 1920), 379; James H. Wilson, Under the Old Flag, II, 142; Wilson, “The Union Cavalry in the Hood Campaign,” in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, ed. Robert V. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel (4 vols.; New York: The Century Company, 1884–1887; reprint, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1956), IV, 471; Donald Davidson, The Tennessee, Vol. 2: The New River, Civil War to TVA (Rivers of America; New York: Rinehart & Co., 1948), 106; Cornish and Laas, Lincoln’s Lee, 149–150; Zimmerman, Mud, Blood & Cold Steel, 118–142; Sword, Embrace an Angry Wind—The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah, 401, 417–419, 421, 423; Durham, Reluctant Partners, 267; “Last Battle of the Civil War in Tennessee,” Hendrix Family Genealogy Appleton History, https://sites.rootsweb.com/~rogerhendrix/Appleton%20-%20Last%20Battle%20of%20Civil%20War%20in%20Tennessee.shtml (accessed May 24, 2020). With the Army of Tennessee no longer an effective fighting force, Gen. Hood resigned in January 1865. Lee remained on the Tennessee in support of "Old Pap" Thomas through ­­mid-January 1865, but Craig Symonds reminds us that the Mississippi Squadron commander “never won his great victory or obtained the formal thanks of Congress, and remained an acting ­­rear-admiral until the end of the war.” Craig L. Symonds, Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 331.

13. ORN, I, 27: 15–16, 36, 41, 47–53, 85; Cincinnati Daily Gazette, January 30, 1865; The New York Times, January 30, 1865; Chicago Daily Tribune, January 31, 1865; Memphis Bulletin, February 2,1865; Allardice and Hewitt, eds., Kentuckians in Gray, 185–186; Thomas Connelly, Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971), 513; Allen C. Guelzo, The Crisis of the American Republic: A History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995), 368–369; Richard Gildrie, "Guerrilla Warfare in the Lower Cumberland River Valley, 1862–1865." Tennessee Historical Quarterly, XLIX (Fall 1990), 173; State of Alabama, “Federal Troops Burn Guntersville During Civil War” (historical marker), https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMDN4F_Federal_Troops_Burn_Guntersville_During_Civil_War_Guntersville_AL (accessed May 25, 2020); Donald H. Steenburn, “Gunboats of the Upper Tennessee,” Civil War Times Illustrated, XXXII (May 1993), 43, Arab (AL) Tribune, January 21, 2015; Guntersville ­­Advertiser-Gleam, March 2, 2019. A full account of the Guntersville burning appears in Pete Sparks’ A River Town’s Fight for Life: The History of Guntersville, Alabama in the Civil War (Homewood, AL: Banner Digital Printing and Publishing, 2011); W. Craig Gaines, Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008), 160.

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