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Re: [civilwarwest] OT: WASHINGTON TIMES :TENNESSEE LOCALS FIGHT NEW BATTLE OF SPRING HILL

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  • Robert Taubman
    Wonderfully put. ... From: D. Andrew Burden, Ph.D. To: Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2001 1:43 PM Subject: Re:
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 3, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Wonderfully put.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "D. Andrew Burden, Ph.D." <daburden@...>
      To: <civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2001 1:43 PM
      Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] OT: WASHINGTON TIMES :TENNESSEE LOCALS
      FIGHT NEW BATTLE OF SPRING HILL


      > For what it's worth, I would sooner see the heroes disinterred from
      > Arlington so that land could be turned into a mega mall before I
      would
      > like to see even small battlefields gobbled up. National cemeteries
      are
      > hallowed because we say so. Battlefields are hallowed whether we
      want
      > to admit it or not.
      > Andy
      >
      > lilsteve68@... wrote:
      > >
      > > TENNESSEE LOCALS FIGHT NEW BATTLE OF SPRING HILL
      > > SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
      > > By: Gerald A. Regan
      > >
      > > SPRING HILL, Tenn. - Local Civil War history has proven to be
      slippery
      > > for
      > > city officials in Spring Hill, Tenn., site of the last surviving
      > > battlefield of the Confederacy's redoubtable Army of Tennessee.
      > >
      > > Still, the city's mayor, Ray Williams, whose 211 battlefield acres
      > > once
      > > hosted spirited skirmishing between Nathan Bedford Forrest's
      > > cavalrymen and
      > > federal infantry, says that his sources are quite clear on what
      didn't
      > >
      > > happen at Spring Hill on Nov. 29, 1864.
      > >
      > > "We had a few people a few years ago come in here and try to say
      it
      > > was a
      > > humongous battle, thousands died," said Mr. Williams in a recent
      > > interview,
      > > when asked about historians' assertions that the fighting that day
      at
      > > Spring Hill constituted a battle. "That's what I disagree with. .
      . .
      > > Sure,
      > > there [was] some skirmishing here."
      > >
      > > In fact, primary sources provide a picture of fighting that ebbed
      and
      > > flared for nearly nine hours, with the fate of two opposing armies
      > > totaling
      > > nearly 100,000 men arguably hinging on the outcome. As many as 900
      > > soldiers
      > > may have became casualties, in combat that ranged over more than
      1,500
      > >
      > > acres of this once-sleepy hamlet, divided between Maury and
      Williamson
      > >
      > > counties, 30 miles south of Nashville.
      > >
      > > One whom the mayor accuses of revisionism is military historian
      Dave
      > > Stieghan, director of the city's Rippavilla Plantation historic
      site,
      > > a
      > > former Army captain who came to Rippavilla after teaching history
      at a
      > >
      > > several colleges in Tyler, Texas. Says Mr. Stieghan, citing the
      > > abundance
      > > of Army reports, a state-funded archaeological study and a
      survivor's
      > > letter: "The bottom line is there was a battle at Spring Hill. . .
      .
      > > If
      > > [city officials] don't want to recognize it, no amount of primary
      > > resources
      > > or tombstones will change their minds."
      > >
      > > A parcel of land in Spring Hill that best underscores what
      happened at
      > >
      > > Spring Hill in 1864 and what might happen in the years to come is
      a
      > > 240-acre tract owned by Brentwood, Tenn., developer Ira Adams and
      his
      > > four
      > > sons - land where, says Mr. Stieghan, the heaviest fighting took
      > > place.
      > >
      > > It was there about 4:30 p.m. that 1,800 federal soldiers led by
      Brig.
      > > Gen.
      > > Luther Bradley were overrun by 5,600 Confederates, commanded by
      Gen.
      > > Patrick R. Cleburne. If the Confederates could have cut the nearby
      > > Franklin-Nashville Pike, Gen. John B. Hood, with 38,000 men
      massing at
      > >
      > > Spring Hill, hoped to divide and destroy a 30,000-man federal army
      en
      > > route
      > > to Nashville. Hood's desperate hope was then to capture the
      30,000-man
      > >
      > > garrison at Nashville and launch an offensive into Kentucky and
      Ohio.
      > >
      > > Six days later, Bradley reported to his superiors: "I then reached
      > > Spring
      > > Hill about 2 p.m. . . . We were soon furiously attacked in front
      and
      > > on the
      > > right flank, a brigade of the enemy swinging completely around the
      > > right of
      > > the Forty-second Illinois and the Sixty-fourth Ohio. We gave them
      a
      > > very
      > > destructive fire and somewhat staggered them in front, and had we
      had
      > > some
      > > support on the right, and the right flank not been turned, we
      could
      > > have
      > > held our ground. After firing about 10 minutes, the right and
      center
      > > (of
      > > the line) were compelled to give way." Capt. George A. Williams,
      an
      > > adjutant in one of Cleburne's brigades, was there, and wrote two
      weeks
      > >
      > > later to a fellow officer, noting that the Confederate brigade
      > > suffered 225
      > > casualties in the assault. Bradley reported to his superiors that
      he
      > > lost
      > > 198 men, including 17 killed, 114 wounded (including himself), and
      67
      > > missing.
      > >
      > > Capt. John K. Shellenberger, a company commander in the 64th Ohio
      > > Infantry
      > > in Bradley's command, in 1907 privately published his account of
      > > Spring
      > > Hill. He recalled the moment when the Union line collapsed: "The
      > > contact
      > > was then so close that as the men in our right were running past
      the
      > > line
      > > closing on them, they were called on with loud oaths, charging
      them
      > > with a
      > > Yankee canine descent, to halt and surrender; and, not heeding the
      > > call,
      > > some of them were shot down with the muzzles of the muskets almost
      > > touching
      > > their bodies."
      > >
      > > Perhaps more than 400 men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner
      in
      > > the
      > > action on Mr. Adams' 240 acres, land now approved for an
      industrial
      > > park.
      > >
      > > Although Hood and his commanders ultimately failed to close the
      trap,
      > > writers and historians, including Pulitzer Prize winner James M.
      > > McPherson,
      > > Shelby Foote and Wiley Sword, and numerous eyewitnesses all
      describe
      > > the
      > > fighting at Spring Hill as a small but vital battle in the
      ultimate
      > > defeat
      > > of the Confederacy. Capt. Shellenberger underscored its
      importance,
      > > writing: "It may be fairly claimed that the success of General
      > > [William T.]
      > > Sherman's famous march to the sea hung on the issue of a minor
      battle
      > > fought at Spring Hill."
      > >
      > > So why have Spring Hill residents accepted the Mayor Williams'
      denial
      > > of
      > > documented history?
      > >
      > > Mr. Williams says that "frankly, the Civil War isn't much on
      > > residents'
      > > minds." Asked whether the Southern army's failure at Spring Hill
      might
      > > fuel
      > > local disinterest, he says: "I kind of doubt it. . . . We never
      had
      > > much of
      > > the Civil War discussed here."
      > >
      > > The city's selective historical recall is undoubtedly driven by
      the
      > > one-time crossroad's breathtaking pace of development, a pace
      rapid
      > > enough
      > > that a slate of four candidates, including two former mayors, is
      > > running
      > > against incumbent Williams, accusing him, in the words of one
      > > candidate, of
      > > ushering in "growth gone amok." Previous elections had trouble
      > > generating
      > > even two candidates, says lifelong Spring Hill resident Effie
      Heiss,
      > > publisher and editor of The Informer, a weekly covering the city.
      > >
      > > In Spring Hill, since 1989 home to Saturn's first and largest auto
      > > factory,
      > > growth is brisk, as it is throughout middle Tennessee, home to
      major
      > > battlefields at Nashville and Franklin (both nearly entirely built
      > > over)
      > > and Murfreesboro (Stones River), included in February on Civil War
      > > Preservation Trust's listing of the 10 most endangered Civil War
      > > sites.
      > >
      > > In the past decade, Spring Hill has seen its population grow
      six-fold,
      > > now
      > > well over 9,000, from 1,400, while its area, through annexations,
      has
      > > more
      > > than doubled. The city is adding close to 90 new residents a
      month,
      > > making
      > > it one of the fastest growing cities in the state.
      > >
      > > "We have commercial developments popping up all over the town,"
      Mr.
      > > Williams says. Mackie Automotive, a Canadian firm looking to move
      to
      > > Spring
      > > Hill, in fact, reportedly considered several sites in or adjacent
      to
      > > the
      > > core battlefield for its warehouse, on the land owned by Mayor
      > > Williams,
      > > Mr. Adams and writer Peter Jenkins.
      > >
      > > The properties of the mayor and Mr. Jenkins, who are both
      neighbors
      > > and
      > > friends, were rezoned from agricultural to light industrial in
      1997,
      > > when
      > > Mr. Williams was chairman of the Spring Hill Regional Planning
      > > Committee.
      > > According to Cindy Williams, the mayor's wife and a local
      appraiser,
      > > she
      > > and the mayor were recently seeking more than $2 million for their
      > > property.
      > >
      > > The mayor's dismissal of the historical record could benefit
      > > landowners
      > > within the battlefield, including himself, and would likely lead
      to
      > > development of the core battlefield. It now is largely pristine
      and
      > > anchored by a 110-acre tract owned by a land trust established by
      > > Maury
      > > County.
      > >
      > > Mr. Williams is forthright about his desire to sell his 211 acres
      in
      > > and
      > > alongside the heart of what the Civil War Sites Advisory Committee
      > > identifies as the core battlefield, as is Mr. Jenkins, owner of
      150
      > > acres
      > > and author of the popular book "Walk Across America."
      > >
      > > "I've had a for-sale sign on it since I bought it. Every piece of
      > > property
      > > I have is for sale, but I'm in no big hurry to sell any of it,"
      the
      > > mayor
      > > says.
      > >
      > > "Ninety percent of the battlefields in Tennessee are in private
      > > ownership,
      > > and they can do what they want with their lands," laments Stuart
      > > Moore, a
      > > landscaper and chairman of the 75-member Tennessee Civil War
      > > Preservation
      > > Association. "That's what we face in Tennessee." As well, middle
      > > Tennessee's fast-growing population, led by greater Nashville's
      17.5
      > > percent increase from 1990 to 2000, has made millionaires out of
      many
      > > farmers and pushed development to Spring Hill.
      > >
      > > Mrs. Heiss, the 65-year-old editor of the town weekly, was once
      teased
      > > by
      > > Mayor Williams, she says, as part of what he called the
      "blue-haired
      > > brigade" that helped raise money to buy the 110 preserved acres.
      She
      > > notes
      > > Spring Hill residents' wariness of battlefield supporters, which
      she
      > > has
      > > seen grow in the past decade as more and more local farmers sold
      to
      > > land
      > > speculators.
      > >
      > > "If they listen to us preservationists, then they won't be able to
      > > sell to
      > > whatever industrial company comes in. I guess they're afraid we'll
      > > stand in
      > > their way," she says.
      > >
      > > "It's gotten so that if they find [even] one Minie ball, they're
      going
      > > to
      > > hide it."
      > >
      > > Mayor Williams insists that he is not opposed to preservation. The
      > > city's
      > > stance is: "We don't own it. If you want it preserved, buy and you
      can
      > >
      > > preserve it. It's your right. Mr. Adams - he bought the land, he
      > > sweated
      > > and paid for it. He paid taxes on it."
      > >
      > > Presented with period accounts that describe the casualties and
      fury
      > > of
      > > Spring Hill's fighting, Mayor Williams said, "I'm not trying to
      spit
      > > on the
      > > grave sites of anyone who died in that war." He notes, too, that
      Mr.
      > > Adams'
      > > land was rezoned from agricultural to industrial nearly 15 years
      ago
      > > and
      > > asked why preservationists didn't act then.
      > >
      > > The mayor contends that the historians have a hidden agenda - a
      desire
      > > to
      > > push the city to zone for a battlefield, depriving landowners of
      the
      > > right
      > > to develop their land. But no one, not even the Civil War
      Preservation
      > >
      > > Trust, has called for that action, although, according to Steve
      > > Tocknell,
      > > chairman of the Tennessee chapter of the Washington, D.C.-based
      > > American
      > > Planning Association, the city could return any undeveloped land
      to
      > > its
      > > original, agricultural zoning.
      > >
      > > In fact, historian Stieghan agrees that Mr. Adams is perfectly
      within
      > > his
      > > rights to develop the parcel as he sees fit but adds that it would
      be
      > > a
      > > shame. He says battlefields are a boon to communities, generating
      > > tourists,
      > > income for local businesses, green space, and jobs. "You don't
      have to
      > >
      > > provide schools and sewer lines for tourists, but you sure can use
      > > their
      > > money and take the taxes from it," he says.
      > >
      > > Spring Hill is not alone in Tennessee in its casualness toward its
      > > Civil
      > > War sites. The Civil War Sites Advisory Committee has identified
      38
      > > principal battlefield sites in Tennessee, second only to
      Virginia's
      > > 61. Of
      > > those 38, 24 are endangered, according to the committee's 1993
      report.
      > >
      > > Spring Hill is among these.
      > >
      > > Fred Prouty, military sites preservationist for the Tennessee Wars
      > > Commission, heads an office of one with an annual budget of
      $125,000.
      > > While
      > > an advocate for the battlefields, he understands what he faces,
      and
      > > offers
      > > a longer view for the causes of Tennessee's lax stewardship of its
      > > Civil
      > > War battlefields.
      > >
      > > "Virginia, and the sort of Lee-Grant historical way of looking at
      > > things,
      > > has kept the focus on those Eastern battlefields," he says, from
      his
      > > office
      > > in Nashville. "Now that has changed, but for many years when you
      > > mentioned
      > > Civil War, people would only think of [Robert E.] Lee and [Ulysses
      S.]
      > > Grant."
      > >
      > > In his research, Mr. Prouty found that veterans of the fighting in
      > > middle
      > > Tennessee in fall 1864, from both armies, united in 1910 to lobby
      for
      > > legislation to locate, map and mark the field of battle near
      Nashville
      > > on
      > > Dec. 15-16, 1864. The measure was introduced into the U.S. House
      of
      > > Representatives, but because the federal government had put so
      much
      > > money
      > > into battlefields in the East, it was rejected.
      > >
      > > "I think because they were denied, a lot of folks in this area
      became
      > > disillusioned. I think if we had the historical backing of
      writers,
      > > [then]
      > > maybe Tennessee would have been able to preserve more sites over
      the
      > > years," Mr. Prouty says."
      > >
      > > Meanwhile, the amount of green space in Spring Hill - Tennessee's
      last
      > >
      > > surviving battlefield of Hood's star-crossed army - has dropped
      from
      > > as
      > > much as 70 percent a decade ago to less than 50 percent today.
      That
      > > figure
      > > may drop to 35 percent by 2010 because of anticipated commercial
      > > development.
      > >
      > > After posing for a photograph in front of his Spring Hill
      > > Mini-Warehouse,
      > > built atop a former football field, Mayor Williams points out that
      > > when he
      > > built, "people were angry, saying the Spring Hill football team
      won
      > > the
      > > state championship here, and some said, `This is sacred ground.
      Blood
      > > was
      > > shed here.' "
      > >
      > > Mr. Adams, 77, is also comfortable with his plans. The developer
      says
      > > the
      > > soldiers who died here "would probably rise up and say, `We
      appreciate
      > > it,
      > > but you should also use the land we have given - we have
      bequeathed -
      > > for
      > > the common good.'"
      > >
      > > Gerald A. Regan is a New York-based journalist. He can be
      contacted at
      > >
      > > ger@....
      > >
      > > 1864 CLASH LEAVES ENDURING STAIN ON HOOD
      > >
      > > Saturday, March 31, 2001
      > > Section: SATURDAY THE CIVIL WAR
      > > Gerald A. Regan
      > > SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
      > >
      > > SPRING HILL, Tenn. - On the afternoon of Nov. 29, 1864,
      Confederate
      > > Maj.
      > > Gen. John Bell Hood had a career-making victory awaiting him in
      Spring
      > >
      > > Hill, one that could revive the teetering Confederacy's fortunes
      while
      > >
      > > establishing him as one of the war's great commanders.
      > >
      > > Instead, the inconclusive affair at Spring Hill left an enduring
      stain
      > > on
      > > his reputation, launching what Dave Stieghan, director of Spring
      > > Hill's
      > > Rippavilla Plantation historic site, calls the second battle of
      Spring
      > >
      > > Hill, the fight by Hood's subordinates, particularly Maj. Gen.
      > > Benjamin
      > > Frank Cheatham, to clear their reputations, impugned by Hood in
      his
      > > quest
      > > for scapegoats for his failure.
      > >
      > > Hood's aim was to interpose his 38,000-man force between the
      federal
      > > forces
      > > of John Schofield, in Pulaski, Tenn., and George H. Thomas in
      > > Nashville.
      > > That accomplished, he planned on destroying Schofield's 30,000-man
      > > army and
      > > then turn on Thomas' force.
      > >
      > > About 11:30 a.m., Confederate Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's
      > > cavalry
      > > arrived at Spring Hill and collided with Schofield's skirmishers,
      part
      > > of a
      > > division the federal commander had sent hustling northward, led by
      > > Maj.
      > > Gen. David S. Stanley. Forrest, working from the vicinity of what
      is
      > > today
      > > Spring Hill Mayor Ray Williams' property, hurled his men against
      the
      > > badly
      > > outnumbered Yankee skirmishers, who fought back gamely.
      > >
      > > Finally, Forrest dispatched Brig. Gen. James Chalmers to finish
      off
      > > the
      > > federals, who by this time, unbeknownst to Forrest, were
      reinforced
      > > with
      > > artillery and additional infantry. His charge bloodily repelled,
      > > Chalmers
      > > faced Forrest, who quipped, "They was in there sure enough, wasn't
      > > they,
      > > Chalmers?"
      > >
      > > For most of the afternoon and evening, Hood's forces held
      numerical
      > > superiority as both armies marched toward Spring Hill. But because
      of
      > > a
      > > series of misunderstandings, Hood's commanders failed to close on
      the
      > > outnumbered vanguard of Schofield's force, despite driving
      Bradley's
      > > brigade from its key defensive position in late afternoon.
      > >
      > > At Rippavilla the next morning, Hood, who had lost use of an arm
      and a
      > > leg
      > > earlier in the war, fumed when he learned that the Yankees had
      marched
      > > past
      > > his forces. Still seething, that afternoon he ordered a head-on
      > > assault
      > > against Schofield's now-entrenched federals at Franklin, 10 miles
      to
      > > the
      > > north. On Nov. 30, 1864, the attacks, protested by his corps
      > > commanders,
      > > led to the loss of 6,200 Confederates, including the deaths of six
      > > generals, and 2,326 federals.
      > >
      > > The remnant of the Confederate Army of Tennessee then invested
      > > Nashville,
      > > until Thomas, biding his time, finally attacked on Dec. 15.
      Thomas'
      > > army
      > > wrecked Hood's survivors in daylong battle.
      > >
      > > The fighting at Spring Hill would be dwarfed by the battles of
      > > Franklin and
      > > Nashville, and the identities of many of the casualties at Spring
      Hill
      > > were
      > > left unknown because of the decimation of both Confederate records
      and
      > >
      > > officers in the days that ensued.
      > >
      > > Gerald A. Regan
      > > 20-67 38th Street, #D3
      > > Astoria NY 11105-1641
      > > Voice/Fax: 718.545.1216
      > > e-mail: ger@...
      > >
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