Book Chat
For Cause & For Country
A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin
Eric A. Jacobson and Richard A. Rupp

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 02/18/07 and covered Chapter 4.  This discussion was participated in by "Eric A. Jacobson", one of the authors of the book.

2/18/2007 8:01 pm (et) ks: Tonight we cover the 4th chapter of “For Cause & For Country”. Dealing with the advance of both armies towards Spring Hill and eventually Franklin, it’s a tense situation, especially as twilight and night approach….
Passing Right Through Hood’s Army

2/18/2007 8:02 pm (et) ks: How about some questions or new realizations based on tonight's read. Anyone?

2/18/2007 8:02 pm (et) ks: I certainly have one. I was amazed with the footnote on pg. 119 concerning the description of sunset time calculated for Spring Hill.

2/18/2007 8:03 pm (et) ks: I had never read about "civil twilight", "nautical twilight" and "astronomical twilight".

2/18/2007 8:04 pm (et) ks: Had anyone else encountered these terms before??

2/18/2007 8:04 pm (et) mobile_96: Neither had I.

2/18/2007 8:05 pm (et) ole: Hadn't heard those particular terms, although I have read of (re: dawn) military dawn, sunup, etc.

2/18/2007 8:06 pm (et) mobile_96: But the descriptions sure put a better perspective on the degrees of visibility

2/18/2007 8:06 pm (et) ole: All having to do with when you could see well enough to shoot.

2/18/2007 8:06 pm (et) ks: What's the difference between dawn and military dawn, ole? And mobile, I so agree about putting a better perspective.

2/18/2007 8:07 pm (et) ole: Don't remember that one, ks. Only that there were names for the differing light conditions. The primary one being when you could see well enough to shoot.

2/18/2007 8:08 pm (et) ole: Example, at a certain time near sunup you can see well enough to walk but can't see far enough to make out an enemy or anything more than the shape of a barn.

2/18/2007 8:08 pm (et) Basecatks, For some reason that note stuck out with me as well, as I had not heard of those terms before in dealing with twilight. Sounds more like a naval set of terms to me.

2/18/2007 8:09 pm (et) ole: What happened to Eric?

2/18/2007 8:09 pm (et) ks: Fair enough. :) Well, for me this was a chapter that certainly picked up the pace. Incredible to even try to imagine the situation with the Federals retreating in darkness with the Confederates close enough that they could view their campfires and see the soldiers...yet they were (for the most part) unmolested.

2/18/2007 8:10 pm (et) EricJacobson: Just following along....

2/18/2007 8:10 pm (et) mobile_96: But were heard, most accounts seem to say that no one heard them moving past.

2/18/2007 8:10 pm (et) ole: Perhaps the luckiest (or unluckiest) event in the entire war.

2/18/2007 8:11 pm (et) ks: Perhaps he's waiting for us to discuss something more stimulating than twilight. ;) Loved the footnote though, Eric.

2/18/2007 8:11 pm (et) EricJacobson: Thanks KS

2/18/2007 8:11 pm (et) mobile_96: Another thing, am I right in thinking the Confederates were Only on the Right of the union army, or on both sides at some point

2/18/2007 8:12 pm (et) Basecat: Are the roads out there used at the time of the retreat much the same today, or have they been changed Eric?

2/18/2007 8:13 pm (et) EricJacobson: The Rebels were only on the right flank of the Federal army, at least as it marched north

2/18/2007 8:13 pm (et) EricJacobson: Many of the roads are much the same as they were, expect paved

2/18/2007 8:14 pm (et) ks: I was surfing through Franklin photos on Civil War Album earlier today and noticed pictures of signage for some of the roads that say what the road was called in CW era as opposed to present day. Seemed to indicate though that it was basically the same path, same road.

2/18/2007 8:14 pm (et) ks: Those photos can be found at:

2/18/2007 8:16 pm (et) amhistoryguy: This was pretty much the same route that Buell had taken from Nashville to Pittsburg landing prior to the battle there.

2/18/2007 8:17 pm (et) ks: Appreciated the maps in this chapter and that led me to wonder about how many of those original homes which served as headquarters are still standing. In particular I wondered if Schofield's HQ, the home of William McKissack, was still around?

2/18/2007 8:17 pm (et) ole: Not surprising when you consider that animals, Indians and the later settlers took the easiest way between two points -- a principal that still holds.

2/18/2007 8:17 pm (et) ks: Didn't realize that, AHG.

2/18/2007 8:18 pm (et) EricJacobson: The McKissack is still standing - it's about half a mile from my house

2/18/2007 8:18 pm (et) ole: Is it ever open to the public.

2/18/2007 8:19 pm (et) ks: Is it a historical site? If so, I have missed seeing mention of it in my surfing.

2/18/2007 8:20 pm (et) EricJacobson: Unfortunately not - it is privately owned

2/18/2007 8:21 pm (et) ole: Any more recent thoughts on the "big sneak," Eric?

2/18/2007 8:21 pm (et) ks: I've frequently found myself surprised that CW armies were able to navigate and coordinate their positions with any degree of accuracy. But to think of the expectations made of these men to find positions and make contact with other units in darkness, that's astonishing. This was certainly a chapter that could get one considering the difficulties with effective communication.

2/18/2007 8:21 pm (et) ks: big sneak... :)

2/18/2007 8:21 pm (et) Basecat: Just from reading this today, it did not seem many of the homes in the area were damaged or threatened with damage during this time. Found it interesting that in Georgia at this time much the opposite was going on in Georgia with Sherman.

2/18/2007 8:23 pm (et) ole: This was Tennessee, BC. Been under Federal occupation for some time.

2/18/2007 8:23 pm (et) EricJacobson: Ole - do you mean Schofield slipping away that night?

2/18/2007 8:24 pm (et) Basecat: Ole...Understand that, but on many a field of battle in the war, many homes that were in the way did not survive as well as those in this area.

2/18/2007 8:24 pm (et) ole: Yes. It's been a while and I would assume that maybe you've uncovered something new or rethought a thing or two since the book.

2/18/2007 8:24 pm (et) ole: BC: I'll bet there weren't any fences within a mile or two.

2/18/2007 8:25 pm (et) EricJacobson: Ole - so far nothing new. And really, I spent so many years working on Spring Hill, I think my views will remain largely unaltered.

2/18/2007 8:25 pm (et) Basecat: Ole..:) That I agree with and would surprise me if any were left standing. :) Often thought it interesting that in many cases, soldiers were ordered not to disturb fences etc., an order which they most surely did not obey.

2/18/2007 8:26 pm (et) ks: Even the reading for tonight makes reference to the confederates being able to hear the federals tearing down fences and pulling siding from buildings. I'd bet you're right, ole.

2/18/2007 8:27 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Interesting that we read about Hood's blunder, or Cheatham or Brown's big mistake, when but for luck, we could very well be reading about Schofield's big blunder.

2/18/2007 8:27 pm (et) ole: Too bad, Eric. Would like to better understand how Schofield's bunch could just march by. Must have taken a half-hour, at least.

2/18/2007 8:28 pm (et) ks: I don't claim to have read much on John Bell Hood previously, but comparing this to previous mention in other books I have read....I was pleased to not have the whole affair blamed on laudanum.

2/18/2007 8:30 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Same here. Hood, in this affair reminds me of the funk Jackson went through during the Peninsula Campaign. Both were just worn out.

2/18/2007 8:30 pm (et) EricJacobson: Ole - I don't want to sound like I have all the answers, but the book largely explains exactly how Schofield got his troops by. The Rebel offensive dragged to a halt, A. P. Stewart never got any men across the pike, and so Schofield simply marched his army right up the road. It took the better part of 5-6 hours to move all of his men past the Confederates.

2/18/2007 8:30 pm (et) ole: Laudanum is pure flight of fancy. Possible, but nothing in the way of evidence.

2/18/2007 8:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Good question Ole, how long did it take to complete the move?

2/18/2007 8:30 pm (et) EricJacobson: Oh the whole laudanum thing is bunch of crap.

2/18/2007 8:31 pm (et) ole: Understand, Eric. It still is a boggler.

2/18/2007 8:31 pm (et) EricJacobson: Sorry if that sounded a bit harsh, but my gosh....I've heard it so much and no one can provide a single shred of evidence....

2/18/2007 8:32 pm (et) Basecat: Eric...I agree it is an expert on crapola.;)

2/18/2007 8:32 pm (et) ks: Didn't sound harsh at all to me. I was trying to refrain from typing "Tell us how you REALLY feel, Eric." with a bold smiley. ;) Didn't refrain for long, did I? ;)

2/18/2007 8:32 pm (et) EricJacobson: Just rumors. Bob Duncan once told me the laudanum (as well as booze and women) stories cropped up because many people in Tennessee (and across the South) could never accept the fact that their brave boys had simply screwed up. So the story slowly became one of excuses and innuendo.

2/18/2007 8:33 pm (et) ole: It still bounces up periodically (among the uninitiated).

2/18/2007 8:33 pm (et) mobile_96: So its more a 'defense' for LCer's?

2/18/2007 8:33 pm (et) Basecat: and Eric makes a good point, as when I have read on this subject it is used as speculation for his failure.

2/18/2007 8:33 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile, I do think it is.

2/18/2007 8:34 pm (et) ks: I'm tired of reading and hearing from supposed CW know-it-alls that everything negative on Hood can be blamed on a drug. This seemed quite reasonable. Still does (as ole says) boggle though...holy COW. With so many accounts of what the Confederates were hearing and even dimly seeing in the darkness, it's amazing Schofield and Co. got away with it.

2/18/2007 8:34 pm (et) ole: If I had to make an excuse for Hood, I'd certainly not pick "well, he was zoned out."

2/18/2007 8:34 pm (et) EricJacobson: Spring Hill = Exhaustion, poor communication, overconfidence

2/18/2007 8:35 pm (et) mobile_96: KS, something I'm amazed at also.

2/18/2007 8:35 pm (et) EricJacobson: Hood and Cheatham never thought that the Yankees would actually march up the road in the darkness.

2/18/2007 8:35 pm (et) Basecat: Just my 2 cents on Hood...The man had lost a leg and the use of one arm. It amazes me that he could even be in any condition to lead an army in his condition. He should not have been given the command IMHO.

2/18/2007 8:35 pm (et) ks: What would you pick for Hood and for the whole lot, ole? Had to be terribly difficult for the seasoned veterans who had to KNOW the enemy was getting away.

2/18/2007 8:37 pm (et) ole: Have to give that one more than a few minutes, ks. For now, I favor sleeping very, very soundly.

2/18/2007 8:37 pm (et) EricJacobson: Basecat - Hood probably should not have been commanding an army. But by late '64, Davis had few other options.

2/18/2007 8:37 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I read somewhere that while withdrawing from Nashville, one Confederate private was complaining that the Confederacy was led by a "one eyed president, a one legged General, and one horse." It may have been in Co Yatch.

2/18/2007 8:37 pm (et) Basecat: Eric, I wonder just how many forced night marches really took place during the war. Not something I come across all the time in my reading. Yeah they were on the roads before the sun rose, but after the sunset...

2/18/2007 8:38 pm (et) Basecat: Davis had few options but those he had, he usually had a problem with them in one way or the other. :)

2/18/2007 8:38 pm (et) EricJacobson: I don't know of any which covered the 25 miles the Yankees covered on the night of Nov 29-30

2/18/2007 8:38 pm (et) ks: Book does mention that as the noise in the confederate camps died down they became more aware of the sounds of marching, accoutrements, wagons moving, etc.

2/18/2007 8:39 pm (et) Basecat: Eic...Only one I can think of is Sedwick's Corps on the way to Gettysburg...But that was a day night deal.

2/18/2007 8:39 pm (et) ole: About how far away from the road were people who should have been awake?

2/18/2007 8:40 pm (et) EricJacobson: Ole - you mean, for example, brigadier generals?

2/18/2007 8:41 pm (et) ole: Sentries. Various officers. The guy who was too keyed up to sleep. The brigadiers were snugly ensconced in feather beds.

2/18/2007 8:42 pm (et) EricJacobson: By the time Cheatham repositioned his divisions around dark the distance was probably 300-400 yards

2/18/2007 8:43 pm (et) ole: That's not very far when you consider the battle rattle.

2/18/2007 8:43 pm (et) ole: And pickets.

2/18/2007 8:43 pm (et) EricJacobson: 300-400 yards for the main body of troops - pickets would have been a little closer, but there was little they could do

2/18/2007 8:44 pm (et) ole: Kinda like Sherman at Shiloh? Don't be silly, there ain't a yank nearer here than Pulaski.

2/18/2007 8:44 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Has anyone ever looked into the possibility of an Acoustic Shadow type explanation. FWIW, it is not mentioned in the Ross book.

2/18/2007 8:45 pm (et) ole: Have heard not a whisper of that, guy. Possible?

2/18/2007 8:45 pm (et) ks: Hadn't considered that in this instance because of so very many accounts of the federals BEING heard.

2/18/2007 8:46 pm (et) EricJacobson: AMGH - I have thought of that, but I think the weather was too cold. My understanding is that such events usually occur as the result of warm/heavy air.

2/18/2007 8:46 pm (et) Basecat: A point I would like to make deals with night battles in the CW. One can easily say the Confederates should have attacked when they heard the noises etc., but will just say that of the few night battles I have read about, the ones who attacked were ultimately defeated, and trying to coordinate a night attack was just way too hard to try.

2/18/2007 8:47 pm (et) ole: Whatever, the passage of Schofield's troops would prove to be very costly, indeed.

2/18/2007 8:47 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Is the road raised or sunken?

2/18/2007 8:48 pm (et) EricJacobson: Good point Basecat. Consider Cheatham, who had been involved in the nighttime attack at Chickamauga. Check out page 143-144 and read the account of the staff officer who said it was Cheatham who was "remonstrating" with Hood against the night attack.

2/18/2007 8:49 pm (et) EricJacobson: Some of those who love Cheatham have a hard time with this man's account, but it seems pretty straightforward and is very much at odds with what Cheatham later claimed.

2/18/2007 8:49 pm (et) ks: Perhaps not attack, but how about just block the road? Blocking the road to prevent the Union forces from heading to Franklin was something that Hood stated he wanted done. Hard to imagine that there couldn't have been an effort to at least block the road. Perhaps that's an action no more easily coordinated than an attack.

2/18/2007 8:50 pm (et) EricJacobson: The road was macadamized, so it was slightly raised, maybe 12-18 inches.

2/18/2007 8:50 pm (et) Basecat: :) which is why I brought it up, and Cheatham was right. The night fight I am most familiar with is the one at Gettysburg, and that was a disaster for the Confederates.

2/18/2007 8:51 pm (et) EricJacobson: Read how Stewart comes to Hood's headquarters and says he can't even find the road and Hood turns to Forrest for help. Hood must have wanted to pull his hair with his one good arm. Nothing was going right.

2/18/2007 8:51 pm (et) ole: Night fights were always ill-advised. No visual contact.

2/18/2007 8:52 pm (et) EricJacobson: Basecat - I agree that Cheatham was right, and Hood, in my opinion, took his corps commander's advice. But boy, neither one could tell a straight story after the fact.

2/18/2007 8:53 pm (et) ks: Okay, you're speaking of the road. I have a question that may very well seem...way too obvious in the answer, but it puzzles me. Repeatedly here and in other reading about the era I see mention of tollgates. Tollgates? So there were actually people assigned to collect a toll at these junctions? Perhaps that makes perfect sense in NJ. ;)

2/18/2007 8:53 pm (et) ole: Straight stories seem to be scarce.

2/18/2007 8:53 pm (et) Basecat: ks...That's something I could not grasp either, why the road was not blocked, but then again I go back to what was posted earlier, that they were not expecting Schofield to move at night.

2/18/2007 8:53 pm (et) ks: Too busy trying to cover one's back to stick with a straight story, ole. :)

2/18/2007 8:53 pm (et) mobile_96: Were the wagons captured by Forrest, from the end, center or front of the wagon train.

2/18/2007 8:54 pm (et) Basecat: Sadly it does ks...:)

2/18/2007 8:54 pm (et) EricJacobson: Yes, people did man the tollgates during the day. But probably not during the war.

2/18/2007 8:55 pm (et) EricJacobson: Mobile - don't know

2/18/2007 8:55 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Schofield had an ez pass

2/18/2007 8:55 pm (et) ks: I keep trying to visualize a CW tollgate, Basecat. Now that's a CW era image I want to see.

2/18/2007 8:55 pm (et) mobile_96: I can see it now, Forrest can't move ahead because he can't pay the toll charges for his entire force.

2/18/2007 8:55 pm (et) ks: AHG ;)

2/18/2007 8:56 pm (et) ole: By what right were tollgates set up? The road crossed someone's property? I see in my maps many toll gates.

2/18/2007 8:57 pm (et) ks: Haven't a clue here, ole. But I'm pleased to know I'm not the only one curious about such things.

2/18/2007 8:57 pm (et) EricJacobson: Ole - don't know

2/18/2007 8:57 pm (et) mobile_96: Just wondering Eric, I get the impression it was not at the train ends.

2/18/2007 8:57 pm (et) ole: Think I'd be a bit reticent about demanding a toll from a Major General with about 20,000 guys with guns.

2/18/2007 8:57 pm (et) mobile_96: Weren't they run by either the county or even state for maintenance on the roads?

2/18/2007 8:58 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Know this has nothing to do with the book, but when the Hagerstown Turnpike was set up in Maryland, those who did not wish to use the toll road..simple built another one to the west of that road. That's why the pictures of Confederate Dead are sometime mistakenly identified as being killed on the turnpike. They were killed on the non toll road which was right next to it.. if that makes any sense.:)

2/18/2007 8:58 pm (et) ole: Good point, mobile. That may explain it.

2/18/2007 8:58 pm (et) ks: You know what I most enjoyed in this chapter were bits of language that probably made perfect sense in the era, but don't resonate with me at all. I wonder what a "ginny-hobbled fence" is? And just what did Capt Shellenberger mean when he wrote his description "charging them with a Yankee canine descent? I have to wonder.

2/18/2007 8:59 pm (et) ole: You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.

2/18/2007 8:59 pm (et) mobile_96: Odd, KS, I caught the canine remark right off.

2/18/2007 8:59 pm (et) ole: Great question, ks. Looking for that answer.

2/18/2007 9:00 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That's my impression mobile. Tolls paid to have the road maintained.

2/18/2007 9:00 pm (et) ks: Sure it does, Basecat. When I read of the tollgates I usually wonder what would there be to prevent someone from just going off the road for a while? Who enforced the tolls? :)

2/18/2007 9:01 pm (et) EricJacobson: Yankee sons-of-******

2/18/2007 9:01 pm (et) ks: ole and mobile, I tried googling the phrases to see what I'd find. That's why I mentioned before the chat that "ginny-hobbled" brought up 1 ref. directly from Eric's material and 53 references to Ginny in Harry Potter. ;)

2/18/2007 9:02 pm (et) ks: 8-O That interpretation never occurred to me, Eric.

2/18/2007 9:05 pm (et) ks: Other accounts from tonight's read that anyone wishes to talk about? We're oddly silent and the inconsistency with refreshing isn't helping. :)

2/18/2007 9:05 pm (et) ole: Why would the yanks worry about tolls. The places indicated on the maps were certainly not placed there by the Yanks -- they were there before.

2/18/2007 9:06 pm (et) ks: I'd not imagined the Yankees WOULD be worried about the tolls. I was merely curious about the fact that there were toll roads and toll gates in the 1800s.

2/18/2007 9:06 pm (et) mobile_96: Eric, any understanding of the word ginny-hobbled?

2/18/2007 9:06 pm (et) ole: Sergeant! Send a detail down to that there tollgate and collect some funds.

2/18/2007 9:07 pm (et) Basecat: I liked the mention of Stewart's article in response to what Hood wrote in his book about Spring Hill. I tend to agree with his analysis.

2/18/2007 9:07 pm (et) EricJacobson: Moble - can't help with the fence question.

2/18/2007 9:09 pm (et) ks: Story on Prvt. Divine who was wounded, left behind, retrieved by friends and let pass by a CSA soldier was poignant. "After a short time he succumbed to his wounds, but thanks to three friends and a stranger he did not do so alone." Good stuff.

2/18/2007 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: Sorry what Alexander wrote about what Hood has said in terms of Stewart and Cheatham. Still I thought his rebuttal to it was fair, and you could plainly see how angry he was about the comments.

2/18/2007 9:10 pm (et) mobile_96: Gin also refers to a snare, and hobble is to: hamper, to cause to limp, to hinder, or as a noun: a limp or a rope used to hobble a horse.

2/18/2007 9:12 pm (et) EricJacobson: logs off.

2/18/2007 9:12 pm (et) mobile_96: Thought the story of Prvt Divine was good stuff also

2/18/2007 9:13 pm (et) ks: Those types of accounts are more apt to stick with me than movements of regiments. Human interest stories personalize the war.

2/18/2007 9:14 pm (et) Basecat: Folks, homework for next week will be 2 chapters, 5 and 6. 71 pages. Hope all don't think that is too much to read, but Chapter 5 is not long enough to sustain a chat.

2/18/2007 9:14 pm (et) ole: An awesome period of history. Human interest, and frailties. Great endeavors and stupid mistakes. Things don't change much.

2/18/2007 9:14 pm (et) ks: I was ready to read on when I finished chapter 4 this afternoon. Ready to get to Franklin. ;) BTW who here has read "Widow of the South"?

2/18/2007 9:15 pm (et) Basecat: Have it, but have yet to read it ks.

2/18/2007 9:15 pm (et) mobile_96: Am sure glad I had Jamie Gillum's book to help with maps of the troop movements.

2/18/2007 9:15 pm (et) ole: Started it ks, got about halfway through before the gag reflex set in.

2/18/2007 9:15 pm (et) ks: Probably a good "official" stopping point. Not discouraging further discussion, but we're lagging on chapter related commentary.