Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Battle of Spring Hill / Blocking the Columbia Turnpike

Marker ID:  
Location: 5700 Main Street, Spring Hill, TN
County: Maury
Coordinates: N 35° 44.019    W 086° 57.04
  35.73365    -86.95066666
Waymark: None


Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood hoped to block the road in front of you—the Columbia Turnpike—and cut off Union Gen. John M. Schofield's force at Columbia from a larger Federal army to the north at Nashville. Confederate divisions under Gens. William B. Bate and Patrick Cleburne neared the turnpike about nightfall on November 29, 1864, and encountered the leading elements of Schofield's troops at and around the pike.

While Cleburne engaged in an intense fire-fight closer to Spring Hill, Bate advanced across this field. His men exchanged a spattering of rifle fire with Federal troops before Bate was ordered to pull his division away from the road and connect with Cleburne's division. Bate protested the order to his superior, Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham, but was told he could either follow the directive or report under arrest. Grudgingly, Bate withdrew his division and in the darkness managed to connect his right flank with Cleburne's left. The best opportunity to block the pike had been lost, and Federal troops continued their northward movement along the road.

"I was moving so as to strike the turnpike to the right of Maj. Nat. Cheer's residence when I received an order from General Cheatham to halt. My main line was within 200 yards of the turnpike." - Gen. William B. Bate, CSA

(upper left) Not well known to most Civil War enthusiasts, Tennessee native William Bate started the war as a private and ended it as a major general. Wounded three times, and with six horses shot out from under him, Bate later became governor of Tennessee and a United States Senator.
Courtesy Army Heritage Education Center

(lower left) There are no known 19th-century photographs of Columbia Turnpike near Spring Hill. This view, however, taken some two decades after the war along the pike just south of Franklin, approximates what the troops would have seen at Spring Hill.
- Courtesy Army Heritage Education Center

(right) Bate's division halted just short of the Columbia Turnpike and connected with Cleburne's division. Maintaining a light defensive position outside Spring Hill, Union forces marched on, division after division, toward Spring Hill and Franklin.

Tennessee Civil War Trails & Civil War Trust.