On the night after the battle of Franklin General Schofield, by the direction of General Thomas, fell back to Nashville, in front of which city, on the heights, a line of battle was formed by noon of the 1st of December. Hood's army appeared before Nashville on the 2nd of December. The intense severity of the weather prevented operations for several days. Both armies were icebound for a week previous to the 14th of December, when the weather moderated, and General Thomas, having completed his preparations, issued orders for battle the ensuing day. At an early hour on the morning of the 15th of December General Thomas moved against Hood's army. The battle was furiously contested until nightfall.
The total result was the capture of 16 pieces of artillery and 1,200 prisoners, besides several hundred stand of small-arms and about forty wagons. The enemy had been forced back at all points with heavy loss, and our casualties were unusually light. The behavior of the troops was unsurpassed for steadiness and alacrity in every movement, and the original plan of battle, with but few alterations, was strictly adhered to. The whole command bivouacked in line of battle during the night on the ground occupied at dark, while preparations were made to renew the battle at an early hour on the morrow.
The battle was renewed on the 16th at 6 o"clock in the morning. At 3 o"clock in the afternoon the enemy's strong position on Overton's Hill was assaulted by the Fourth Corps.
Immediately following the effort of the Fourth Corps, General Smith's and Schofield's commands moved against the enemy's works in their respective fronts, carrying all before them, irreparably breaking his lines in a dozen places, and capturing all his artillery and thousands of prisoners, among the latter four general officers. Our loss was remarkably small, scarcely mentionable. All of the enemy that did escape were pursued over the tops of Brentwood and Harpeth Hills. General Wilson's cavalry, dismounted, attacked the enemy simultaneously with Schofield and Smith, striking him in reverse, and, gaining firm possession of Granny White Pike, cut off his retreat by that route. Wood's and Steedman's troops, hearing the shouts of victory coming from the right, rushed impetuously forward, renewing the assault on Overton's Hill, and, although meeting a very heavy fire, the onset was irresistible, artillery and innumerable prisoners falling into our hands. The enemy, hopelessly broken, fled in confusion through the Brentwood Pass, the Fourth Corps in a close pursuit, which was continued for several miles, when darkness closed the scene and the troops rested from their labors. * * * During the two days" operations there were 4,462 prisoners captured, including 287 officers of all grades from that of major-general, 53 pieces of artillery, and thousands of small-arms. The enemy abandoned on the field all of his dead and wounded.
At the battle of Nashville Hood's army, which at one time was considered the best drilled and most formidable rebel force set on foot during the war, disappeared as an army organization. Commanded successively by Bragg, Johnston, and Hood, many bloody fields proved the courage of the soldiers and the skill of its commanders. The shattered fragments of this army were pursued from Nashville to the Tennessee River by the main forces of General Thomas, and were followed and harassed for 200 miles by detached commands. In his report General Thomas remarks:
To Colonel Palmer and his command is accorded the credit of giving Hood's army the last blow of the campaign, at a distance of over 200 miles from where we first struck the enemy on the 15th of December, near Nashville.
What troops escaped from the pursuit were afterward united with other fragments of rebel forces under General Johnston, and finally laid down their arms to General Sherman at Raleigh.
While the events that have been mentioned were transpiring in the main armies, other military operations of less magnitude, but contribution to the general result by harassing and weakening the