Civil War Battles of Tennessee

Brentwood (March 25, 1863) – Occurring in Williamson County, Tennessee, Union Lieutenant Colonel Edward Bloodgood held Brentwood, a station on the Nashville & Decatur Railroad, with 400 men on the morning of March 25, 1863, when Confederate Brigadier General Nathan B. Forrest with a powerful column, approached the town. The day before, Forrest had ordered Colonel J.W. Starnes, commanding the 2nd Brigade, to go to Brentwood, cut the telegraph, tear up railroad track, attack the stockade, and cut off any retreat. Forrest and the other cavalry brigade joined Bloodgood about 7:00 am on the 25th.

A messenger from the stockade informed Bloodgood that Forrest’s men were about to attack and had destroyed the railroad track. Bloodgood sought to notify his superiors and discovered that the telegraph lines were cut. Forrest sent in demand for surrender under a flag of truce, but Bloodgood refused. Within a half-hour, though, Forrest had artillery to shell Bloodgood’s position and had surrounded the Federals with a large force. Bloodgood decided to surrender. Forrest and his men caused a lot of damage in the area during this expedition, and Brentwood, on the railroad, was a significant loss to the Federals. Estimated casualties of the battle were 305 Union and 6 Confederate

Franklin (April 10, 1863) – Occurring in Williamson County, this engagement at Franklin was a reconnaissance in force by Confederate cavalry leader Major General Earl Van Dorn coupled with an equally inept response by Union Major General Gordon Granger. Van Dorn advanced northward from Spring Hill on May 10, contacting Federal skirmishers just outside Franklin. Van Dorn’s attack was so weak that when Granger received a false report that Brentwood, to the north, was under attack, he believed it and sent away most of his cavalry, thinking that the Confederate general was undertaking a diversion.

When the truth became known — there was no threat to Brentwood — Granger decided to attack Van Dorn, but he was surprised to learn that a subordinate had already done so, without orders. Brigadier General David S. Stanley, with a cavalry brigade, had crossed the Harpeth River at Hughes’s Ford, behind the Confederate right rear. The 4th U.S. Cavalry attacked and captured Freeman’s Tennessee Battery on the Lewisburg Road but lost it when Brigadier General Nathan B. Forrest counterattacked. Stanley’s troopers quickly withdrew across the Big Harpeth River. In his rear, this incident caused Van Dorn to cancel his operations and withdraw to Spring Hill, leaving the Federals in control of the area. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 100 Union and 137 Confederate.

Middle Tennessee Campaign (June 1863)

Also called the Tullahoma Campaign, Colonel Abel Streight and his Union Cavalry raided through Mississippi and Alabama, fighting against Nathan B. Forrest. Streight’s Raid ended when his exhausted men surrendered near Rome, Georgia, on May 3. In June, Rosecrans finally advanced against Bragg in a brilliant, almost bloodless maneuver campaign, the Tullahoma Campaign, and drove Bragg from Middle Tennessee.

Hoover’s Gap (June 24-26, 1863) – This conflict occurred in Bedford and Rutherford Counties of Tennessee.  Following the Battle of Stones River, Major General William Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Cumberland, remained in the Murfreesboro area for five and one-half months. To counter the Yankees, General Braxton Bragg, commander of the Army of Tennessee, established a fortified line along the Duck River from Shelbyville to Wartrace. On the Confederate right, infantry and artillery detachments guarded Liberty, Hoover’s, and Bellbuckle gaps through the mountains. Rosecrans’  superiors, fearing that Bragg might detach large numbers of men to help break the Siege of Vicksburg, urged him to attack the Confederates.

On June 23, 1863, he feigned an attack on Shelbyville but massed against Bragg’s right. His troops struck out toward the gaps, Major General George H. Thomas’s men, on the 24th, forced Hoover’s Gap. The Confederate 3rd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, under Colonel J.R. Butler, held Hoover’s Gap, but the Yankees easily pushed it aside. As this unit fell back, it ran into Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson’s and Brigadier General William B. Bate’s Brigades, Stewart’s Division, Hardee’s Corps, Army of Tennessee, which marched off to meet Thomas and his men.

Fighting continued at the gap until just before noon on the 26th, when Major General Alexander P. Stewart, the Confederate division commander, sent a message to Johnson and Bate stating that he was pulling back and they should also. Although slowed by rain, Rosecrans moved on, forcing Bragg to give up his defensive line and fall back to Tullahoma. Rosecrans sent a flying column (Wilder’s Lightning Brigade, the same that had spearheaded the thrust through Hoover’s Gap on the 24th) ahead to hit the railroad in Bragg’s rear. Arriving too late to destroy the Elk River railroad bridge, the Federals tore up lots of track around Decherd. Bragg evacuated Middle Tennessee. Resulting in a Union victory, the number of casualties remains unknown.

Chickamauga Campaign (August-September 1863)

Battle of Chickamauga

Battle of Chickamauga by Kurz & Allison, 1890.

Major General William Rosecrans‘ Federal Army of the Cumberland’s major objective was to keep control of the roads heading southward. One of these went through Chattanooga. In the meantime, General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee was determined to block the Federal Army from Chattanooga. The first battle of the campaign took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two more were fought in Georgia at Davis’ Cross-Roads and Chickamauga.

Chattanooga (August 21, 1863) – On August 16, 1863, Major General William Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, launched a campaign to take Chattanooga, Tennessee. Colonel John T. Wilder’s brigade of the Union 4th Division of the 14th Army Corps marched to a location northeast of Chattanooga where the Confederates could see them, reinforcing General Braxton Bragg’s expectations of a Union attack on the town from that direction.

On August 21st, Wilder reached the Tennessee River opposite Chattanooga and ordered the 18th Indiana Light Artillery to begin shelling the town. The shells caught many soldiers and civilians in a town in church, observing a day of prayer and fasting. The bombardment sank two steamers docked at the landing and created a great deal of consternation amongst the Confederates. Continued periodically over the next two weeks, the shelling helped keep Bragg’s attention to the northeast while the bulk of Rosecrans’ army crossed the Tennessee River well west and south of Chattanooga. When Bragg learned on September 8th that the Union army was in force southwest of the city, he abandoned Chattanooga. In a successful Union demonstration, the number of casualties remains unknown. See More HERE.