Following the Battle of Franklin, which had devastated John Bell Hood‘s Confederate forces, Hood pursued the Union troops to Nashville, where they had joined with those of George H. Thomas. Now vastly outnumbered, Hood’s battered Army of Tennessee took a defensive position parallel to the Union lines on December 2, 1864, and waited for the Union attack.
Thomas finally began his offensive on December 15. He directed part of his troops to attack Hood’s right, while the majority of his forces were sent in a wheeling maneuver to smash into Hood’s left flank. The plan proved successful, but night fell just as Hood’s left crumbled, preventing a rout. During the night, Hood pulled back about two miles from his former position and formed a more compact line.
The next day, Thomas’s troops again attacked, using much the same tactics as the day before. This time when Hood’s left flank collapsed, it took the rest of the line with it. Confederate soldiers fled despite their commanders’ attempts to halt them, though Stephen D. Lee managed to pull together enough troops to defend the Confederate rear as the army fell back. Thomas’s troops pursued the Confederates for the next 10 days, until Hood crossed the Tennessee River.
After his disastrous Franklin-Nashville Campaign, Hood resigned his command. The Battle of Nashville was the final blow for both the Army of Tennessee and Hood’s military career.