Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Fouche Springs Engagement

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of Summertown Highway (Tennessee Route 20) and Summertown Springs Rd, Summertown, TN
County: Lawrence
Coordinates: N 35° 26.112    W 087° 18.858
  35.4352    -87.3143
Waymark: None


Fouche Springs Engagement
"A perfect stampede"
— Hood's Campaign —

In September 1864, after Union Gen. William T. Sherman defeated Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood at Atlanta, Hood led the Army of Tennessee northwest against Sherman’s supply lines. Rather than contest Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” Hood moved north into Tennessee. Gen. John M. Schofield, detached from Sherman’s army, delayed Hood at Columbia and Spring Hill before falling back to Franklin. The bloodbath there on November 30 crippled the Confederates, but they followed Schofield to the outskirts of Nashville and Union Gen. George H. Thomas’s strong defenses. Hood’s campaign ended when Thomas crushed his army on December 15-16.

(main text)
The engagement of Fouche Springs, located near this crossroads in present-day Summertown, was some of the earliest significant fighting of the Hood Campaign. Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry led Gen. John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee into Lawrence County and then north toward the Duck River. Forrest reported that his troops “had several engagements with the enemy, and were almost constantly skirmishing with him, but drove him in every encounter.”

The first encounter took place on November 23 at Henryville, south of Summertown, where Confederate Gen. James R. Chalmers's troops captured 45 Union soldiers. Later that day, Forrest and his men encountered a larger Federal force, Col. Horace Capron’s 1st Cavalry Brigade, near here.

Forrest split his command, sending Col. Edmund W. Rucker's brigade forward to engage the Federals while he took his escort to the right and sent Col. David C. Kelley to the left. Forrest hoped to combine his force with Kelley's and strike a decisive blow to the Federal rear. When Kelley’s men did not arrive in time, Forrest's escort struck anyway, “producing a perfect stampede, capturing about 50 prisoners, 20 horses, and 1 ambulance,” Forrest later reported.

The fighting of November 23 alerted Federal commanders that the Confederates were approaching the Duck River in considerable force. Union Gens. John M. Schofield, Jacob D. Cox, and David S. Stanley immediately began to move their troops to Columbia, to guarantee they could cross the Duck River before Hood’s soldiers arrived. The race was on to Columbia, Franklin, and then Nashville.

Tennessee Civil War Trails.