|Battle of Decatur|
|Part of the American Civil War|
|United States (Union)||CSA (Confederacy)|
|Robert S. Granger||John B. Hood|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Decatur was a demonstration conducted from October 26 to October 29, 1864, as part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign of the American Civil War. Union forces of 3–5,000 men under Brig. Gen. Robert S. Granger prevented the 39,000 men of the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Lt. Gen. John B. Hood from crossing the Tennessee River at Decatur, Alabama.
Background[edit | edit source]
John Bell Hood was marching through northern Alabama on his way to an invasion of Tennessee. His army had departed northwest from the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, in late September 1864, hoping that their destruction of Union supply lines would lure Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's Union army into battle. Sherman pursued Hood as far as Gaylesville, Alabama, but decided to return his army to Atlanta and conduct instead a March to the Sea through Georgia. He gave responsibility for the defense of Tennessee to Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas.
Hood departed from Gadsden, Alabama, on October 22, en route to Guntersville, Alabama, where he planned to cross the Tennessee River. Learning that that crossing place was strongly guarded, and concerned that Federal gunboats could destroy any pontoon bridge he might deploy, he impulsively changed his destination to Decatur, 40 miles west.
Battle[edit | edit source]
When Hood arrived at Decatur on October 26, he found that a Federal infantry force of 3–5,000 men was defending an entrenched line that included two forts and 1,600 yards of rifle pits. Two Federal wooden gunboats patrolled the river. On October 27, Hood arranged his arriving army to encircle Decatur. On October 28, Confederate skirmishers advanced through a dense fog to a ravine within 800 yards of the main fortifications. Around noon, a small Federal detachment drove the sharpshooters and skirmishers out of the ravine, capturing 125 men. Hood, concluding that he could not afford the casualties that would ensue from a full-scale assault, withdrew his army. He decided once again to move to the west, to attempt another crossing near Tuscumbia, Alabama, where Muscle Shoals would prevent interference by Federal gunboats.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
Union forces burned down the city of Decatur, including the railroad bridge, leaving several structures standing, four of which survive today: the Old State Bank, the Dancy-Polk House, the Todd House, and the McEntire House. Slugs can still be found in the masonry of the Greek Revival bank building.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Sword, p. 64, cites 3,000; Kennedy, p. 392, cites 5,000.
- Eicher, p. 769.
- Kennedy, p. 392.
- Eicher, p. 770.
- Kennedy, p. 392; Sword, p. 64.
- Jacobson, p. 43; Sword, pp. 64-65.
References[edit | edit source]
- Eicher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84944-5.
- Jacobson, Eric A., and Richard A. Rupp, For Cause & for Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin, O'More Publishing, 2007, ISBN 0-9717444-4-0.
- Kennedy, Frances H., ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
- Sword, Wiley, The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville, William Morrow & Co., 1974, ISBN 0-688-00271-4.
- National Park Service battle description
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Carpenter, Noel, A Slight Demonstration: Decatur, October 1864, Clumsy Beginning of Gen. John B. Hood's Tennessee Campaign, Legacy Books and Letters, 2007, ISBN 978-0-615-14866-3.
[edit | edit source]
- Confederate Cemetery, Decatur, Alabama
- "Decatur reliving Civil War today". Decatur Daily. September 5, 2009. http://www.decaturdaily.com/detail/42495.html. Retrieved 2009-09-05.