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Army of Tennessee

Army of Tennessee
1864 standardization flag of the army.
Active November 1862 – April 1865
Country  Confederate States
Branch  Confederate Army
Role Largest Confederate field army in Western Theater
Engagements American Civil War
Albert Sidney Johnston
Braxton Bragg
Joseph E. Johnston
John Bell Hood
Alexander P. Stewart

The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater. It should not be confused with the Union Army of the Tennessee, named after the Tennessee River.


  • History 1
    • 1862 1.1
    • 1863 1.2
    • 1864 1.3
    • 1865 1.4
  • Corps organization 2
  • Major battles and campaigns 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
    • Further reading 5.1
  • External links 6



The army was formed on November 20, 1862, when General Braxton Bragg renamed the former Army of Mississippi and was divided into two corps commanded by Polk and William J. Hardee. A third corps was formed from troops from the Department of East Tennessee and commanded by Edmund Kirby Smith; it was disbanded in early December after one of its two divisions was sent to Mississippi. The remaining division was assigned to Hardee's corps while Kirby Smith returned to East Tennessee. The army's cavalry was consolidated into a single command under Joseph Wheeler.[1] The army's first major engagement under its new name took place against the Army of the Cumberland on December 31 along the Stones River. The attacks started at 6 a.m. against the Union right wing and forced the Union flank back towards the Union supply route to Nashville, but the Confederates were unable to capture the road. Bragg expected Union commander William S. Rosecrans to retreat during the night but Rosecrans decided to remain. No fighting took place on January 1; the next day Bragg assigned one division to seize a ridge on the east side of Stones River but the division's attack was repulsed by heavy artillery fire. Bragg retreated during the night and halted near the Duck River.[2]


Following Stones' River, feuding broke out between Bragg and his corps and division commanders over who was responsible for the Confederate defeat; several officers stated that Bragg had lost the confidence of the army. When he learned of the dispute, Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent Joseph Johnston to inspect the army and take command if he thought it necessary to relieve Bragg. Johnston however refused to take command of the army.[3] In the summer of 1863, Rosecrans began an offensive, generally known as the

  • Braxton Bragg and the Army of Tennessee
  • McGavock Confederate Cemetery

External links

  • Connelly, Thomas Lawrence, Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee, 1861–1862. Baton Rouge, Louisiana Louisiana State University Press. 1967, ISBN 0-8071-0404-3.
  • Connelly, Thomas Lawrence, Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862–1865. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8071-0445-0.
  • Cozzens, Peter. This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga. Urbanna, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1992. ISBN 0-252-01703-X.
  • Daniel, Larry J., Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee: A Portrait of Life in a Confederate Army. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8078-2004-0.
  • Haughton, Andrew, Training, Tactics and Leadership in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Routledge, 2000, ISBN 0-7146-5032-3.
  • Horn, Stanley Fitzgerald, The Army of Tennessee. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941 (reprinted 1993). ISBN 0-8061-2565-9.
  • McMurry, Richard M., Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. ISBN 0-8078-1819-4.
  • Woodworth, Steven E., Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1990. ISBN 0-7006-0567-3.

Further reading

  • Bradley, Mark L. This Astounding Close: The Road to Bennett Place. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8078-2565-4.
  • Castel, Albert. Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1992. ISBN 978-0-7006-0748-8.
  • Connelly, Thomas Lawrence. Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862–1865. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1971. ISBN 0-8071-0445-0.
  • Cozzens, Peter. This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga. Urbanna, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1992. ISBN 0-252-01703-X.
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J. Civil War High Commands. Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Hughes, Jr., Nathaniel Cheairs. Bentonville: The Final Battle of Sherman & Johnston. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8078-2281-7.
  • Kennedy, Frances H., ed. The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
  • Sword, Wiley. The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, & Nashville. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1992. ISBN 0-7006-0650-5.


  1. ^ Connelly, pp. 27, 30–32.
  2. ^ Connelly, pp. 54–69.
  3. ^ Connelly, pp. 72–92.
  4. ^ Connelly, pp. 129–134, 137.
  5. ^ Connelly, pp. 151–152, 154, 157–158, 163; Cozzens, p. 56.
  6. ^ Cozzens, pp. 56, 35–37, 45, 55–56.
  7. ^ Kennedy, pp. 227–230.
  8. ^ Cozzens, pp. 299–300; Kennedy, pp. 230–231.
  9. ^ McDonough, pp. 24–25.
  10. ^ McDonough, pp. 29–37; Connelly, pp. 249–251.
  11. ^ McDonough, pp. 76–85, 88–93.
  12. ^ McDonough pp. 129–142, 143–158, 167–204, 220; Horn, p. 305.
  13. ^ Castel, pp. 58, 127; Connelly, p. 314.
  14. ^ Castel, pp. 276, 278, 338; Kennedy, pp. 326–338.
  15. ^ Kennedy, pp. 338–343; Connelly, p. 434.
  16. ^ Horn, pp. 371–374.
  17. ^ Sword, pp. 46, 54–57, 60–64.
  18. ^ Sword, pp. 77, 93, 95–97, 109, 143–153, 156–159, 177–179, 269.
  19. ^ Sword, pp. 278–279 319–344, 348, 352–363, 388–389, 404–407, 425.
  20. ^ Hughes, pp. 24–27, 47, 54.
  21. ^ Hughes, pp. 120–125, 129, 138–140, 148–149, 168.
  22. ^ Bradley, pp. 57, 79–80, 95, 130–131, 159–172, 209, 215–217.


Movements of the Army of Tennessee, 1862 until 1865.

Major battles and campaigns

Corps organization

Johnston retreated during the night of March 21 and moved through [22]

Parts of the Army of Tennessee fought in several small engagements during the XX Corps with troops from William J. Hardee's command; the Union troops were able to repulse each attack. During the night, Sherman brought his other wing to the battlefield, forcing Johnston to retreat back to the Confederate starting positions and refusing his flank in order to protect his line of retreat; Stewart's men occupied the Confederate center.[21]

At this time, the Army of Tennessee was reduced to only 4,500 men and lacked many supplies, including weapons, artillery, and wagons, and suffered from desertion along the way east from Mississippi. Within a very few weeks Johnston was able to rebuild this army into a force that could provide serious resistance to Sherman's advancing army.

Hood resigned his command in January, and was briefly replaced by Richard Taylor. During late January and February, the army was transferred to the Carolinas, where it joined other Confederate forces fighting against Sherman's troops marching through the Carolinas. Stewart commanded the army during this time, with William W. Loring in command of Stewart's Corps, D. H. Hill commanding Lee's corps, and William B. Bate commanding Cheatham's corps (both Lee and Cheatham were still traveling from Mississippi). Wheeler's cavalry corps operated as part of Wade Hampton's cavalry command. General Joseph E. Johnston was given command of the Confederate forces in the region, which he dubbed the Army of the South.


Hood then retreated southwest of Atlanta, first to Lovejoy's Station before stopping at Palmetto; there he met with Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard, who had just been appointed commander of the Military Division of the West. Hardee was transferred to take command of the Tuscumbia on the Tennessee River but a lack of supplies and the need to repair the railroad to the city in order to accumulate supplies prevented the army from crossing the river until November 20.[17] Hood was faced in Middle Tennessee by Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland. Hood tried to trap part of the Union army under John M. Schofield near Columbia but failed; he then tried to march past Schofield and reach Nashville first before any Union reinforcements reached the city. However, Schofield, detecting Hood's march, ordered a retreat back to Nashville and managed to avoid being cut off at Spring Hill; despite Hood's orders that Confederate forces seize the Nashville Turnpike. Hood caught up with Schofield at Franklin and ordered an immediate frontal assault, despite only having two of his three infantry corps present; he also ignored the advice of his subordinates to outflank the Union fortifications and avoid a head-on attack. During the resulting battle, Hood lost 7,000 men, almost a quarter of his strength, including six generals killed or mortally wounded, another six wounded, and one captured.[18] but continued to advance north into Middle Tennessee, where he attempted to besiege Nashville. He deployed the Confederate army along a range of hills and ridges south of the city in a line for a total of four miles and started digging entrenchments and redoubts. Cheatham's corps was on the right, Lee's corps in the center, and Stewart's corps on the left. Since there was a total of 21,000 men present in the army, Hood was unable to completely surround the city; the Confederate left was four miles from the Cumberland River, while the right was one mile from the river. On December 15, Thomas's troops launched their attack, feinting towards the Confederate right while the main assault fell on the Confederate left. Lee's corps was driven from its defensive works, forcing Hood to retreat to another line of hills to the south. Cheatham's corps was on the left, Stewart's corps in the center, and Lee's corps on the right. Thomas attacked again the next afternoon, using another feint against the Confederate right while launching another flanking attack against the Confederate left. Cheatham's and Stewart's corps were routed, while Lee's corps served as the rear guard as the Confederates retreated from the field. Hood decided to abandon the state due to the poor state of the army. Forrest's cavalry, along with eight brigades of infantry, formed the rear guard. The army initially retreated to Corinth but since the railroad was too damaged to supply the army, Hood ordered a further retreat to Tupelo.[19]

During the winter of 1864, the army went through other command changes: John B. Hood took command of the Second Corps, while Polk was transferred to the army in May with the Army of Mississippi, which was re-designated the Third Corps.[13] In the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, Johnston faced the combined Northern armies of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, whose orders were to destroy the Army of Tennessee, with the capture of Atlanta as the secondary objective. Johnston, who felt the continued existence of his army was more important than protecting territory, tended to avoid battle with Sherman. During May and early June, Johnston took up several defensive positions but withdrew from each after Sherman outflanked each position. Polk was killed at Pine Mountain on June 14; he was temporarily replaced by W. W. Loring until July, when A. P. Stewart took command of the corps. Johnston's retreats caused impatience among the Confederate leadership in Richmond, particularly Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who had never gotten on well with Johnston, and feared that Johnston was planning to abandon Atlanta without a fight. Following Sherman's outflanking of Johnston's Line along the Chattahoochee River, forcing Johnston back on Atlanta itself, Johnston was replaced by Hood on July 9.[14] Stephen D. Lee was reassigned from Mississippi to take command of the Second Corps. Hood launched several attacks on Sherman's forces around Atlanta, including at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, and Ezra Church, but each attack failed. Sherman was able to cut Hood's last railroad supply line following the Battle of Jonesboro on September 1, which forced Hood to abandon the city the following day.[15]


[12] During the month of September and into early October, the Army of the Cumberland was reinforced by the troops of Maj. Gen.

After Chickamauga, the Army of Tennessee besieged the Union army in Chattanooga, taking up defensive positions on the surrounding hills, especially on Missionary Ridge, which formed the Confederate center, and Lookout Mountain on the Confederate left. Bragg considered a direct attack on the city too costly, and a lack of supplies and pontoons caused him to reject a plan to cross the river and break the Union supply line to Nashville. Instead he spread the Confederate army along the Tennessee River, cutting the Union railroad supply line into the city and reducing the amount of supplies the Union army could get into the city.[9] During the next several weeks, Bragg became embroiled with a dispute with the army's corps commanders. Bragg became involved in a personal dispute with Forrest, which lead to Forrest being reassigned to Mississippi and West Tennessee, with his cavalry corps merged with Wheeler's corps. Meanwhile, Hill, Buckner, and Longstreet, along with several division commanders, signed a petition to Davis, asking that Bragg be relieved of command. After Davis rejected the petition, Bragg made several changes to the command structure of the army. Polk was relieved of command and was charged with disobedience during the Chickamauga campaign and failure to attack when ordered; instead of being court martialed, Polk was transferred to Mississippi and Hardee took command of the First Corps. Hill was also relieved of command and replaced by John C. Breckinridge; both the Third Corps and Reserve Corps were merged into the other two corps, with Buckner and Walker demoted to division command.[10]

Rosecrans launched the Chickamauga Campaign in late August, staging demonstrations near Chattanooga and upstream of the city along the Tennessee River. This convinced Bragg that Rosecrans was crossing the river to the north; however, Union forces were actually crossing to the south of the city. This forced Bragg to fall back into northern Chattanooga on September 8.[6] Over the course of the next several days, Bragg attempted to launch several attacks on isolated parts of the Union army but each attempt failed. On the evening of September 18, Bragg concentrated the army near Chickamauga Creek; he thought that only part of the Union army was nearby but Rosecrans had concentrated his army faster than Bragg had expected. During September 19 at Chickamauga, both sides fed in reinforcements as the day progressed.[7] Longstreet arrived on the battlefield during the night of the 19 and 20; Bragg divided the army into two wings, with Polk commanding one division of his corps along with Hill's and Walker's corps on the right, and Longstreet commanding the other division of Polk's corps with Buckner's corps and his own corps (commanded by John B. Hood), on the left. Polk was ordered to attack at daylight on September 20, with Longstreet attacking immediately afterwards, but Polk didn't launch his attack until midmorning. The left wing failed to dislodge the Union army but Longstreet's wing attacked a gap in the Union army which routed the Union right flank. A portion of the Union army rallied on Horseshoe Ridge and held off multiple Confederate attacks until evening, when it followed the rest of Rosecrans' army into Chattanooga.[8]


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