After his bloody defeat at Franklin and the retreat of the Union, John Bell Hood continued to press forward into Tennessee. He arrived at Nashville on December 2nd. He had only 30,000 men to George Thomas's 55,000. Too weak to attempt an assault, Hood settled into four miles of defensive positions, hoping that Thomas would attack him. He detached several brigades and sent them on diversions to try to lure Thomas out of the city. But Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga,” was not fooled, and would not attack until he was ready. Although Sherman was content for the rebels to busy themselves in Tennessee while he marched through Georgia, this did not sit well with Lincoln. The president remarked, “This seems like the McClellan and Rosecrans strategy of do nothing and let the rebels raid the country.” Grant urged Thomas to attack, and was just about to remove him from command when he finally did.
|Attack on the Confederate Redoubts|
The attack began on December 15th. The Confederate forces were too weak to completely invest Nashville. Instead of anchoring their flanks on either side of the river, Hood had to leave his flanks relatively exposed. Thomas planned to make a diversion on the Confederate right while the rest of the army struck their left. Wilson's cavalry moved on the far end of the wheeling Union forces, driving away Confederate outposts and ending up nearly in their rear. Federal infantry began attacking the southern redoubts at 2:30 pm. Some of the rebels put up a good defense, but at the end of the day the Union troops held all five of the redoubts covering the Confederate flank. With his position compromised, Hood fell back about a mile to a new and stronger line, where the fighting would resume on the morrow.