December 16, 1864: Second day at Nashville

Gen. George Thomas

Battle of Nashville map

Even the President sent his congratulations to Thomas after his first day’s battle at Nashville, admonishing him to follow up on the success. Thomas continues to drive Hood’s routed army, taking more prisoners and guns. His estimate of his casualties at 3000 was pretty accurate, and Hood had twice as many. Hood’s Army of Tennessee was broken irrevocably, and Hood’s career over.

Official Records 94:211

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 16, 1864.
(Sent 11.25 a. m.)
Major-General THOMAS,
Nashville, Tenn.:

Please accept for yourself, officers, and men the nation’s thanks for your good work of yesterday. You made a magnificent beginning. A grand consummation is within your easy reach.

Do not let it slip.



NASHVILLE, TENN., December 16, 1864-9 p. m.
Major T. T. ECKERT:

During last night Hood withdrew his right from the river and took a new position, covering Hillsborough, Granny White, and Franklin pikes, which line had been carefully prepared for just this contingency. He was driven from the first line easily, but the second was very stubbornly defended, and at last heavily assaulted three times before succeeding. It was carried, however, and 20 pieces of artillery and 2,000 men, including General Jackson, with the remnant of his division, were taken, the enemy forced back two miles, and his army broken into two parts–one on the [Granny] White pike, and the other on the Franklin, with the range of bluffy hills between them, Steedman and Wood pressing down the latter, and A. J. Smith, Schofield, and the cavalry down the former. Small-arms lay as thick on the completed line as the rebels had stood there. Hood cannot make another such a day’s fight, while Thomas is in good condition to press him. Caught more wagons–cannot say number.

Everybody, white and black, did splendidly.



, December 16, 1864-7.45 p. m.
Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,
Commanding Department of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report four pieces of artillery and a considerable number of prisoners captured by General Cox’s division this afternoon. General Cox also reported four other pieces and caissons captured in the valley between the hill carried by General McArthur and that taken by General Cox. I learned, however, upon inquiry, that General McArthur’s troops claimed, and, I have no doubt, justly, the honor of capturing the last four. My provost-marshal reports seventy-four prisoners captured this p. m. I have conversed with some of the officers captured, and am satisfied Hood’s army is more thoroughly beaten than any troops I have ever seen. I congratulate you most heartily upon the result of the two days’ operations. My messenger will wait for any orders you may have to send me.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Eight Miles from Nashville, December 16, 1864-6 p. m. (Received Washington 5.30 a. m. 17th.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, and
Governor ANDREW JOHNSON, Nashville:

This army thanks you for your approbation of its conduct yesterday, and to assure you that it is not misplaced. I have the honor to report that the enemy has been pressed at all points to-day on his line of retreat to the Brentwood Hills, and Brigadier-General Hatch, of Wilson’s corps of cavalry, on the right, turned the enemy’s left, and captured a large number of prisoners, number not yet reported. Major-General Schofield’s troops, next on the left of cavalry, carried several heights, captured many prisoners and six pieces of artillery. Brevet Major-General Smith, next on the left of Major-General Schofield, carried the salient point of the enemy’s line with McMillen’s brigade, of McArthur’s division, capturing 16 pieces of artillery, 2 brigadier-generals, and about 2,000 prisoners. Brigadier-General Garrard’s division, of Smith’s command, next on the left of McArthur’s division, carried the enemy’s intrenchments, capturing all the artillery and troops of the enemy on the line. Brigadier-General Wood’s corps, on the Franklin pike, took up the assault, carrying the enemy’s intrenchments in his front, captured 8 pieces of artillery, something over 600 prisoners, and drove the enemy within one mile of the Brentwood Pass. Major-General Steedman, commanding detachments of the different armies of the Military Division of the Mississippi, most nobly supported General Wood’s left, and bore a most honorable part in the operations of the day.

I have ordered the pursuit to be continued in the morning at daylight, although the troops are very much fatigued. The greatest enthusiasm prevails.

I must not forget to report the operations of Brigadier-General Johnson, in successfully driving the enemy, with the co-operation of the gun-boats, under Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, from their established batteries on the Cumberland River below the city of Nashville, and of the services of Brigadier-Geenral Croxton’s brigade, in covering and relieving our right and rear, in the operations of yesterday and to-day. Although I have no report of the number of prisoners captured by Johnson’s and Croxton’s commands, I know they have made a large number. I am glad to be able to state that the number of prisoners captured yesterday greatly exceeds the number reported by me last evening. The woods, fields, and intrenchments are strewn with the enemy’s small-arms, abandoned in their retreat.

In conclusion, I am happy to state that all this has been effected with but a very small loss to us. Our loss does not probably exceed 3,000;* very few killed.

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

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