November 26, 1864
-- Franklin-Nashville Campaign: After having abandoned Atlanta, Gen. John B. Hood, commanding the 39,000 troops of the Army of Tennessee, knows he cannot stop Sherman’s march on the battlefield. As Sherman begins his March to the Sea through Georgia, Hood sidesteps into northern Alabama to cross the Tennessee River and invade Tennessee in an attempt to disrupt Sherman’s plans and draw him back north to defend Federal-occupied Tennessee, and his supply lines. Hood does not fully yet realize that Sherman has no intentions of turning back, and has abandoned his supply lines, to live off the land, thus punishing even more the state of Georgia as he marches through.
Hood’s army remains in Palmetto, Georgia for much of September. Early in October, he makes a march toward Chattanooga, beating Yankee forces in a few insignificant engagements, and finally captures the Federal garrison at Dalton. The Rebels destroy railroads and supplies, doing their best to discomfit Sherman. Hood then turns west, into Alabama. Sherman sends troops to chase Hood, but he finally gives up and determines to abandon his supply line for the upcoming campaign to Savannah. Sherman detaches Thomas and Schofield with the 55,000 men to keep watch over Tennessee. Thomas arrives in Nashville, and begins to beef up its defenses. He assigns Schofield to move south into central Tennessee to block Hood’s moves. As Hood advances, he passes up Schofield’s force at Pulaski, hoping to cut off the smaller Yankee force from its base in Nashville. At the last moment, on Nov. 24, Gen. Schofield abandons his post in Pulaski and speeds north to block the Rebels from crossing the Duck River at Columbia.
By this date, Nov. 26, Hood has marched his battered army up into central Tennessee, and approaches Columbia, finding Union troops entrenched south of the city, blocking all roads north. Forrest’s cavalry provides excellent screening, so that the Federals are clueless as to where Hood is, as skirmishing all around the Federal lines flares up.
---March to the Sea: Sherman’s troops continue sporadic fighting with Confederate troops near Sanderson, Georgia.