Hood's Narrow Escape Across the Tennessee

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Hood's Narrow Escape Across the Tennessee


General Hood's Confederate Army of the Tennessee retreats across the Tennessee River


The Bainbridge Ferry was the sight that Confederate General Hood’s Army of the Tennessee used to escape from the Union forces of General George Thomas who was pursuing them from Nashville. General Hood’s forces left Pulaski for Bainbridge to cross the Tennessee River on December 22, 1864. The army arrived on December 25. Lieutenant Colonel Presstman began what was accounted to be his crowning achievement as a military engineer.
Presstman quickly reconstructed a pontoon bridge across the Tennessee River in half the time it had taken for the same project nearly two months earlier. The bridge was finished in the early morning hours of December 26. The Army began crossing the bridge that morning and finished on December 28 removing the pontoons to complete the escape.
General Forrest’s cavalry harassed the Union forces following from Pulaski to allow Hood the time to finish the bridge. The two corps under General Benjamin Cheatham and Stephen D. Lee crossed the bridge after the wagon trains had crossed. General Alexander P. Stewart’s forces crossed the next day to be followed by General Edward C. Walthall and General Forrest’s cavalry.
Union Admiral SP Lee’s “Brown Water Navy” attempted to steam up the river with a flotilla of gunboats. The larger boats were unable to pass the shoals at Florence and only two lighter boats continued toward Bainbridge. Admiral Lee’s boats exchanged fire with Confederate artillery on the two miles upriver from Florence. The boats were unable to navigate the shoals before Bainbridge and were forced to retreat down river.


Michael Williams, University of North Alabama


McDonald, William Lindsey. 2003. Civil War tales of the Tennessee Valley. n.p.: Killen, Ala. : Heart of Dixie Pub. (1812 CR 111, Killen, Ala., 35645), [2003], 2003. UNA Library Catalog, EBSCOhost (accessed April 30, 2015).
Eric. 2014. "HOOD’S BATTERED ARMY RECROSSES THE TENNESSEE." Civil War Daily Gazette. December 26. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://civilwardailygazette.com/2014/12/26/hoods-battered-army-recrosses-the-tennessee/.
n.d. "Civilwarhome.com." Journal of the Army of Tennessee. Accessed April 13, 2015. http://www.civilwarhome.com/journalaotnashville.html.


December, 1864


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Original Format

Map of Hood's Retreat, Photo of General Hood