December 23, 1864: News of Hood

John Bell Hood

The Richmond Daily Dispatch discusses what Hood is doing after the defeat at Nashville. They’re skeptical, but it doesn’t really sound too good.

From Hood’s army.

The latest intelligence from the “pursuit” of General Hood is from Nashville on the 23d. The telegram says:

The latest accounts from the front locate General Thomas’s headquarters at Rutherford Hill, yesterday morning, eight miles this side of Columbia. Since that time our forces have crossed Duck river, and have moved to a point south of Columbia. Our cavalry forces crossed at Hunter’s ford, below Columbia, and dashed into the town, the enemy meanwhile retiring without firing a shot. We captured about fifty stragglers.
The rebel force was, at last accounts, at Pulaski, yesterday morning. They are probably some distance south of that place to day. They are closely followed by our cavalry. No particular damage was done to the town of Columbia by the passage through it of the two armies.

At least one third of Hood’s army are without arms and equipments, everything which impedes their flight having been thrown away. Rebel deserters and prisoners report the only effective corps of Hood’s army to be S. D. Lee’s.

Forrest effected a junction with Hood at Columbia on Tuesdayevening. The water on the shoals is fifteen feet deep and at a stand-still.

Having failed to catch Hood, the Yankees are supplying the omission by wonderful stories of what damage they have done him. They put his loss at eighteen general officers, fifty-one cannon and seventeen thousand men. The Yankee loss is fixed at seven thousand men and two general officers. A telegram gives some more of the same sort of stuff:

Frank Cheatham told his aunt, Miss. Rage, that Hood was ordered to Nashville against his own wishes; but he lames Hood for not attacking Schofield at Spring Hill. Hood ordered Bate to attack at Spring Hill, and he did not do it.

The rebel army is now beyond Columbia. During the rebel tarry in front of Nashville they captured but two locomotives and ten cars. The railroad is but little impaired, and trains are running up to Spring Hill; but two small bridges destroyed. Trains were to run to Murfreesboro’ on Sunday.

Telegraph communication is all right with all points; but two small trestles are destroyed on the Johnsonville road. Johnsonville itself was not destroyed.

Hood has a pontoon above the shoals on the Tennessee river, where our gunboats cannot reach them.
The correspondent of the Nashville Union also gives this account of what Hood intended to do if General Thomas had not interfered with his plans:

A few days since, General Hood and some of his staff, together with Cheatham, were at the house of a gentleman with whom I conversed to-day, and who was within their lines, and while there Hood stated that he had intended at first to assault Nashville; that while he felt confident he could do so with success, he had concluded that the sacrifice would be to great unless called upon to do so as a last resort. He proposed, instead, to-blockade the Cumberland above and below, and cut the Louisville and Nashville railroad, and then Thomas would be compelled to evacuate the city; “for,” said Hood, “he has but the Fourth corps and a few conscripts; I know that all the stories about his strength are false; his men are few and demoralized”; and all present concurred with him. No longer ago than Wednesday night, Cheatham stated, as I am positively informed, that he had no doubts about capturing this city. “We have taken stronger places,” were his words, “and we will take Nashville.”

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