Archive for November, 2012

Perfect Cover

A short video showing the sunset conditions December 15th, 1864 on Charlotte Pike during the Battle of Nashville. This is where I believe the Confederate Cavalry made a successful stand against a force about 10 times their own size. Look at what the view like is with the sun on the horizon at the battle site. Perfect for the Confederates, not so good for the 6th Cavalry Division under Gen. Richard W. Johnson. Johnson had previously been captured by Confederate Cavalry and seems to have been feeling his way around the enemy flank, asking for reinforcements along the way.


Ambush of the U.S. 6th Cavalry Division

Google earth now gives historians a chance to see the exact position of the sun from anywhere on the earth on any given day of the year. This helps explain the tactical advantage of using a sunset to blind an advancing enemy from a well planned defensive position. The Confederate Cavalry under Forrest’s Division were masters of deception. This helps explain why Gen. Rucker’s detached force were able to stop an attack about ten-times their own size.

This successful defensive counter, keep the U.S. Army from out-flanking the Army of Tennessee under Lt. General John Bell Hood, allowing them to escape the following day on the decisive Battle of Nashville.

Google Earth imagery on the 15th of December around 5 pm:

What happened here?

Further evidence from the Official Report

“Once Johnson reassembled his brigades, his 6th Division set off west along the Charlotte Pike after Chalmers. The pursuit went about four miles before the Federal cavalrymen once more ran into Rucker’s brigade, posted in a strong position of long and rail barricades located along a ridge beyond a small creek near Davidson’s house overlooking Bell’s Landing. This was, in fact, the true location of Kelley’s artillery, which could now sweep the pike and the creek bridge. An energetic attack on the Confederate rear “directly into his works” by COL Garrard’s unsupported 7th Ohio made about 3 p.m. was soon thereafter repulsed with heavy losses. “The rebs have chosen a good position,” he messaged MG Wilson shortly after 2 p.m. Thinking himself close enough to the Cumberland for the gunboats to make a difference, Johnson ordered his own advance stopped and sent a messenger to find Fitch and obtain his help”.

OR, 1,45, 1, 599-600, 606, 765; OR, 1,45,2: 205-206; ORN, I, 26: 651; Logbook of the U.S.S. Carondolet, December 15,1864; Sword, op cit., pp. 326-328; Horn, The Decisive Battle of Nashville, op cit., p. 39; McDonough, op cit., p.157. Johnson’s capture by Morgan near Gallatin on August 21, 1862 is told on pp.
116-117 of James A. Ramage, Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan(Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986).
Recommended Reading:

Forrest’s Fighting Preacher: David Campbell Kelley of Tennessee (Civil War Series)