Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Winstead Hill — Hood's Campaign —

Marker ID:  
Location: in Winstead Hill Park on Columbia Pike (U.S. 31), Franklin, TN
County: Williamson
Coordinates: N 35° 53.342    W 086° 52.668
  35.88903333    -86.8778
Waymark: None


Winstead Hill
Fateful Decision
— 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 here 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.

On November 30, 1864, in the waning light of a beautiful Indian summer afternoon, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood stood here and studied Union Gen. John M. Schofield's strong defensive position two miles in front of you. The night before, Schofield's troops had slipped past Hood's army near Spring Hill. Hood decided that he had one final chance here at Franklin to destroy the Federal army before it escaped to Nashville, and he ordered a massive frontal assault. Gen. Benjamin F. "Frank" Cheatham, Patrick R. Cleburne, and Nathan Bedford Forrest - Hood's subordinates - advised against it, with Forrest advocating a flank attack. Hood countered that 5,000-man-strong Federal cavalry could impede any flanking movement to the east.

Concerned that daylight was running out and fearing another Federal escape, Hood ordered his general to drive the enemy "in to the river at all hazards." Almost 19,000 Confederate troops formed into line of battle. Cheatham's Coorps extended along both sides of Columbia Pike east and west of here. Farther east, nearly to the Harpeth River, was Gen. A.P. Stewart's Corps. The Southern line was two miles long with 100 regiments, 18 brigades, and 6 divisions. At 4 P.M., a signal flag here on Winstead Hill launched the single largest attack made during the American Civil War. The Federal soldiers never forgot the sheer spectacle of the Confederates sweeping across the fields before you with their bands playing "Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag." One Union observer later wrote that we were spellbound with admiration, although they were our hated foes."

Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.


More information:
Wikipedia: Battle of Franklin (1864)