for a short time, they hastily retreated to the woods on their right. Two rifled guns were now posted by the enemy in the edge of the woods between the Columbia pike and the railroad, and from them they directed a fire at the fort and at my headquarters, about 700 yards east of the fort. A few shells passed over the fort and a few fell near the river, in the vicinity of my headquarters, without doing nay damage. Just before the enemy opened a fire from this battery, I received a telegram from General Morgan, commanding at Brentwood, stating that his pickets had been driven in on the Wilson pike. This dispatch caused me to change my opinion as to the main feature of the attack. It now appeared to me that Van Dorn, while he held force enough in our front to successfully resist any attack that I might make upon his front in the open field, really designed it as a cover to an attack that he would make with irresistible force upon the small garrison at Brentwood. Therefore, upon receiving this dispatch I sent all of my own cavalry, under command of Brigadier General G. C. Smith, in great haste to the relief of that post. Afterward I learned that General Morgan's pickets had been driven in only by 3 or 4 negroes walking along the road.
Very soon after this cavalry force had left, and too late for it to return to take part in the action, I discovered from his maneuvers, and from the statements of prisoners we had captured, that General Van Dorn's real intention was to attack us in front; that his whole force was directly opposed to us, and that he did not intend to attack Brentwood. I then adopted the following plan of offensive operations:As I had now lost the use of my own cavalry, with which I intended to support General Stanley, I ordered two regiments of infantry and two guns from General Gilbert's division to move rapidly forward to Hughes' Ford, to supply its place, and immediately sent word to General Stanley of this fact. It was my intention, as soon as these re-enforcements reached General Stanley, and as soon as the enemy's force, which was on the Lewisburg pike, then moving toward Franklin, had passed the point of its intersection with the road from Hughes's Mill, to order him, with his re-enforments, to cross the river, proceed to the pike, and attack this force in the rear. At the same time General Baird, who was to cross the river on the pontoon bridge with his division, would attack the same force in front, while I would hold General Gilbert's division as a reserve on the north side of the river, with its head resting on the pontoon bridge, ready to cross at a moment's notice. This plan failed, although I had every reason then to believe that it would not. I am now positive in stating that it would have resulted in a great success if it had been properly carried out. General Van Dorn's forces were in such a position that I might have crushed them, taking from 2,000 to 3,000 prisoners.
In disposing my forces in accordance with the above-mentioned plan, it was first necessary to bring General Baird's division from the fords which it was guarding below Franklin, and cross it over the pontoon bridge to the south side of the river. Owing to the distance from these fords to the bridge, it would take at least one hour and a half to make this movement. However, before General Baird had commenced to move, and almost before General Stanley's re-enforcements had started on the march of 3 miles to join him, I was very much surprised in receiving a message from him, stating that he had crossed the river at Hughes' Ford, moved to the Lewisburg pike, and had attacked the enemy in flank.
I sent word to his re-enforcements to ruche forward as rapidly as possible, and to endeavor to reach the ford at least before he might be