Battle of Decatur
|Battle of Decatur|
|Part of the American Civil War|
|United States (Union)||CSA (Confederacy)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|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 Gen. John B. Hood from crossing the Tennessee River at Decatur, Alabama.
John Bell Hood was marching through northern Alabama on his way to an invasion of Union-held Tennessee. His army had departed northwest from the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, in late September 1864, hoping 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 instead conduct a March to the Sea through Georgia. He gave responsibility for the defense of Tennessee to Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas at Nashville.
Hood departed from Gadsden, Alabama, on October 22, en route to Guntersville, Alabama, where he planned to cross the Tennessee River. Learning 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.
When Hood arrived at Decatur on October 26, he found a Federal infantry force of 3,000 to 5,000 men defending an entrenched line that included two forts and 1,600 yards of rifle pits. Two Federal gunboats patrolled the river. On October 27, Hood arranged his army as it arrived to encircle Decatur. The next morning, he sent Confederate skirmishers through a dense fog to a ravine within 800 yards of the main fortifications. At about noon, a Federal regiment drove the skirmishers out of the ravine, capturing 125 men. Hood could not afford the casualties from a full-scale assault and decided to cross the Tennessee River elsewhere. He marched further the west and crossed near Tuscumbia, Alabama, where Muscle Shoals prevented interference by the Federal gunboats.
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.
- 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.
- Eicher, David J. The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War. New York: 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. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
- Sword, Wiley. The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993. ISBN 0-7006-0650-5. First published with the title Embrace an Angry Wind in 1992 by HarperCollins.
- National Park Service battle description
- Update to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields - State of Alabama
- Carpenter, Noel. A Slight Demonstration: Decatur, October 1864, Clumsy Beginning of Gen. John B. Hood's Tennessee Campaign. Austin, TX: Legacy Books and Letters, 2007. ISBN 978-0-615-14866-3.
- Confederate Cemetery, Decatur, Alabama
- Deangelo McDaniel (September 5, 2009). "Decatur reliving Civil War today". The Decatur Daily. Retrieved 2009-09-05.