Thomas: “We have pressed the enemy to-day beyond Franklin”

I received an update from Gen. Thomas.  He has achieved a complete victory over Hood.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Near Franklin, Tenn., December 17, 1864-8 p. m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:

We have pressed the enemy to-day beyond Franklin, capturing his hospitals, containing over 1,500 wounded, and about 150 of our wounded. In addition to the above, General Knipe, commanding a division of cavalry, drove the enemy’s rear guard through Franklin to-day, capturing about 250 prisoners and 5 battle-flags, with very little loss on our side. Citizens of Franklin represent Hood’s army as completely demoralized.

In addition to the captures of yesterday, reported in my dispatch of last night, I have the honor to report the capture of General Rucker and about 250 prisoners of the enemy’s cavalry, in a fight that occurred about 8 o’clock last night between General Rucker and General Hatch, of our cavalry. The enemy has been pressed to-day both in front and on both flanks. Brigadier-General Johnson succeeded in striking him on the flank just beyond Franklin, capturing quite a number of prisoners, number not yet reported. My cavalry is pressing him closely to-night, and I am very much in hopes of getting many more prisoners to-morrow.

Luckily, but little damage has been done the railroad, and I expect to have trains close up to the army to-morrow night. I have just heard from General Stoneman, at Kingsport, under date of the 13th instant. He left Knoxville on the 10th, overtook Duke’s (formerly Morgan’s) command on the 12th, and during the night drove him across the North Fork of Holston River. Next morning crossed the river and attacked, captured and killed nearly the whole command, taking the entire wagon train. Colonel R. C. Morgan, a brother of John Morgan, is, with many other officers, a prisoner. Duke’s command is considered completely destroyed. The fighting was done by Gillem’s command and the Thirtieth Kentucky, of General Burbridge’s command. Stoneman in motion for Bristol, where he hopes to intercept Vaughn.A part of the captured train was that lost by Gillem on retreat from Bull’s Gap.

I now consider the Cumberland perfectly safe from Nashville down, and have directed the chief quartermaster to commence shipping stores up it immediately. As there is also a fair prospect for another rise in the Tennessee River, I have requested Admiral Lee to send some iron-clads and gun-boats up that river, to destroy Hood’s pontoon bridge, if possible, and cut off his retreat.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General, Commanding.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 126-7

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 228-9

“Push the enemy now, and give him no rest until he is entirely destroyed”

I have just received a dispatch indicating that Gen. Thomas is in the process of winning a crushing victory against Hood.  I wrote him immediately.

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 15, 1864-11.30 p. m.

Major-General THOMAS,

Nashville, Tenn.:

I was just on my way to Nashville, but receiving a dispatch from Van Duzer, detailing your splendid success of to-day, I shall go no farther. Push the enemy now, and give him no rest until he is entirely destroyed. Your army will cheerfully suffer many privations to break up Hood’s army and render it useless for future operations. Do not stop for trains or supplies, but take them from the country, as the enemy have done. Much is now expected.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 124

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 195

“Richmond Dispatch says—’Sherman is near Savannah probably not five miles distant'”

Gen. Ord has forwarded to me information from Richmond’s papers concerning Sherman. I passed it along to Sec. Stanton.

From City Point Va Deer 13th 1864.
Hon E M. Stanton
Sec’y of War—Richmond papers of today contain the following
U. S. Grant
Lt Genl
“Richmond Dispatch says—’Sherman is near Savannah probably not five miles distant, has not yet made an attack. It is still doubtful whether he will do so or make for the coast south east of the city. It is very certain he has not yet opened communication with the coast though he may do so very soon. Later—A. telegraphic dispatch received from below Charleston states that Sherman was in line [o]f battle (we will not say where) confronted by [a] strong confederate force. Another paper states there has been no direct communication with Savannah for several days, but we apprehend the wires have been cut between that place and Charleston”

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 112

“Delay no longer for weather or re-enforcements.”

I wrote Gen. Thomas,

CITY POINT, VA., December 11, 1864-4 p.m.

Major-General THOMAS,

Nashville, Tenn.:

If you delay attack longer the mortifying spectacle will be witnessed of a rebel army moving for the Ohio River, and you will be forced to act, accepting such weather as you find. Let there be no further delay. Hood cannot stand even a drawn battle so far from his supplies of ordnance stores. If he retreats and you follow, he must lose his material and much of his army. I am in hopes of receiving a dispatch from you to-day announcing that you have moved. Delay no longer for weather or re-enforcements.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

He replied,

NASHVILLE, December 11, 1864-10.30 p.m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

City Point:

Your dispatch of 4 p.m. this day is just received. I will obey the order as promptly as possible, however much I may regret it, as the attack will have to be made under every disadvantage. The whole country is covered with a perfect sheet of ice and sleet, and it is with difficulty the troops are able to move about on level ground. It was my intention to attack Hood as soon as the ice melted, and would have done so yesterday had it not been for the storm.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 107

O.R, I, xlv, part 2, p 143

“I don’t think there should be any delay in starting out re-enforcements to Warren”

We have not heard of any news from Gen. Warren concerning his advance down the Weldon Railroad.  However, Meade sends word of artillery firing and a column of enemy infantry that was spotted marching in that direction.  I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., December 10, 1864-1.20 p.m.

Major-General MEADE:

I think it advisable to move with all the force you can to Warren’s relief. Benham will be ordered up as you suggest. I don’t think there should be any delay in starting out re-enforcements to Warren.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 96-7

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 921

“I … will, therefore, suspend the order relieving [Thomas] until it is seen whether he will do anything”

Upon further consideration, I have decided to suspend my order relieving Gen. Thomas.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CITY POINT, VA., December 9, 1864-5.30 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington:

General Thomas has been urged in every way possible to attack the enemy, even to the giving the positive order. He did say he thought he would be able to attack on the 7th, but didn’t do so, nor has he given a reason for not doing it. I am every unwilling to do injustice to an officer who has done as much good service as General Thomas has, however, and will, therefore, suspend the order relieving him until it is seen whether he will do anything.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 90-1

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 116

 

“no attack yet made by Thomas. Please telegraph orders relieving him at once and placing Schofield in command.”

Hood’s army is vulnerable and there has been no attack made by Thomas.  I wrote Gen. Halleck to relieve Thomas and give his command to Gen. Schofield.

CITY POINT, VA., December 9, 1864-11 a.m. (Received 1.45 p.m.)

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

Dispatch of 8 p.m. last evening from Nashville shows the enemy scattered for more than seventy miles down the river, and no attack yet made by Thomas. Please telegraph orders relieving him at once and placing Schofield in command. Thomas should be directed to turn over all orders and dispatches received since the battle of Franklin to Schofield.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 90

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 115-16

“I want General Thomas reminded of the importance of immediate action.”

I received the following from Gen. Halleck,

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 8, 1864 – 9 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT, City Point:

If you wish General Thomas relieved from command, give the order. No one here will, I think, interfere. The responsibility, however, will be yours, as no one here, so far as I am informed, wishes General Thomas’ removal.

H. W. HALLECK,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., December 8, 1864 – 10 p. m.

Major-General HALLECK, Washington:

Your dispatch of 9 p. m. just received. I want General Thomas reminded of the importance of immediate action. I sent him a dispatch this evening which will probably urge him on. I would not say relieve him until I hear further from him.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 84

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 96

“You probably saw my order to Thomas to attack. If he does not do it promptly, I would recommend superseding him”

I received the following from Sec. Stanton,

WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington, December 7, 1864 – 10.20 a. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

You remember that when Steele was relieved by can by he was ordered to Cairo to report to this Department. What shall be done with him? The order superseding Rosecrans by Dodge has been issued. Thomas seems unwilling to attack because it is hazardous, as if all war was anything but hazardous. If he waits for Wilson to get ready, Gabriel will be blowing his last horn.

EDWIN M. STANTON.

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., December 7, 1864 – 1.30 p. m.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

You probably saw my order to Thomas to attack. If he does not do it promptly, I would recommend superseding him by Schofield, leaving Thomas subordinate. Steele is an admirable corps commander, and I would say order him to report to Canby until there is an opening to put him in command of a corps. I would have no objection [and] would like General Steele appointed to command of Ninth Corps, and General Parke ordered to report to General Canby.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 78-9

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 84

“Attack Hood at once, and wait no longer for a remount of your cavalry”

We can wait no longer for an attack on Hood by Thomas.  I wrote him,

CITY POINT, VA., December 6, 1864 – 4 p. m.

Major General G. H. THOMAS,

Nashville, Tenn.:

Attack Hood at once, and wait no longer for a remount of your cavalry. There is great danger of delay resulting in a campaign back to the Ohio River.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

He replied,

NASHVILLE, TENN., December 6, 1864 – 9 p. m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

City Point:

Your telegram of 4 p. m. this day is just received. I will make the necessary disposition and attack Hood at once, agreeably to your order, though I believe it will be hazardous with the small force of cavalry now at my service.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 77

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 70