Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Road to Nashville / Columbia Artillery Duel

Marker ID:  
Location: 1412 Trotwood Avenue, Columbia, TN
County: Maury
Coordinates: N 35° 35.963    W 087° 4.592
  35.59938333    -87.07653333
Waymark: None


Road to Nashville
Columbia Artillery Duel

— 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.

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On November 26, 1864, as Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood’s army approached Columbia, he sent Gen. Stephen D. Lee’s corps to “demonstrate heavily” (feign an attack) against the Federal defenses on the south side of the town. Hood wanted Union Gen. John M. Schofield’s force to remain fixed in its entrenchments while his own men marched past Columbia to Spring Hill to sever Schofield’s route of retreat to Nashville. Lee’s infantrymen formed a long skirmish line extending about a mile to your right and a mile to your left. At the same time, he opened fire on the Union fortifications with part of his artillery here.

Some of the Federal guns were located in front of you on the present-day grounds of Maury Regional Hospital. They responded to Lee’s barrage with counterfire, beginning a furious and impressive artillery duel. Judge George Martin’s fine brick house, which stood on this site, was so riddled by Union solid shot that the outer walls later had to be propped up with log braces.

Despite the cannon fire and feigned infantry attack, Schofield’s men started to evacuate Columbia before the Confederates could turn their position and block the road to Nashville. During the night, the Federals quietly crossed the Duck River, then began marching north the next day. Gen. Jacob D. Cox’s division remained on the north side of the river to defend the crossing and delay Lee’s soldiers, who skirmished with the Union rear guard. The two forces would soon meet again at Spring Hill.

Tennessee Civil War Trails