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The Battle of Spring Hill, Tennessee read after the stated meeting held February 2d, 1907   By: (1843?-)

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Military Order OF THE Loyal Legion of the United States


The Battle of Spring Hill, Tennessee.

PREPARED BY Companion Captain John K. Shellenberger



More than twenty five years have passed since I began to collect the materials from which this pamphlet has been evolved. As a substantial basis, to begin with, I was an eye witness of all the fighting in the vicinity of Spring Hill, that amounted to anything, from the time Forrest attacked the 64th Ohio on the skirmish line until Cleburne's Division recoiled from the fire of the battery posted at the village.

Since I began collecting I have neglected no opportunity to increase my stock of information by conversation, reading or correspondence. I have twice revisited the battlefield. I have the Government volume containing the official reports, all of which I have carefully studied. Among my correspondents, on the Union side, have been Generals Stanley, Wilson, Opdycke, Lane and Bradley, besides many others of lesser rank. I am as confident, from their letters, that my paper would have the approval of those named, who are now dead, as I am sure it has the approval of General Wilson, to whom a manuscript copy was submitted for criticism.

Among other Confederates, I wrote to General S.D. Lee, who referred me to Judge J.P. Young, of Memphis Tennessee, with the statement that he had exhausted the subject on the Confederate side. He was present at Spring Hill as a boy soldier in Forrest's cavalry, and for years has been engaged in writing a history of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, to which he has given an enormous amount of careful research. To him I am indebted for much of the most valuable part of my information concerning the Confederate troops. From the materials thus gathered I have tried to give, within the compass of a Loyal Legion paper, a clear and truthful account of the affair just as it happened. That opinions will differ, is shown by the fact that Judge Young holds General Brown responsible for the Confederate failure, while I believe that Cheatham, Stewart and Bate were all greater sinners than Brown. He was acting under the eye of Cheatham, who could easily have forced an attack by Brown's Division if he had been equal to the occasion.

By a curious coincidence General Lee was present as the guest of the Missouri Commandery at the meeting when the paper was read, and, in commenting on it, General Lee stated that I had told the truth about as it had occurred. The deductions made from the facts stated are my own.


It may be fairly claimed that the success of General Sherman's famous March to the Sea hung on the issue of a minor battle fought at Spring Hill, in Middle Tennessee, the evening of November 29th, 1864, when Sherman and his army were hundreds of miles away in the heart of Georgia. It will be remembered that when Sherman started from Atlanta for Savannah his old antagonist, General Hood, was at Florence, Alabama, refitting his army to the limit of the waning resources of the Confederacy, for an aggressive campaign into Tennessee. If Hood's campaign had proved successful Sherman's unopposed march through Georgia would have been derided as a crazy freak, and, no doubt, the old charge of insanity would have been revived against him. By how narrow a margin Hood missed a brilliant success, a truthful account of the Spring Hill affair will disclose. Much has been written by interested generals of both sides, and by their partisan friends, to mislead as to the real situation. With no personal friendships or enmities to subserve, it is the intention of this paper to tell the truth without any regard to its effect on the reputation of any general, Federal or Confederate.

The Administration gave a reluctant consent to Sherman's plan on the condition that he would leave with General Thomas, commanding in Tennessee, a force strong enough to defeat Hood... Continue reading book >>

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