Generals Cleburne, Forrest & Govan
Spring Hill, Tennessee - November 29, 1864
Spearheading General John B. Hood's Franklin-Nashville campaign against Federal forces in Tennessee, the combat veterans under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and General Patrick Cleburne were among the best fighters in the Southern Army. Cleburne had been referred to as the "Stonewall Jackson of the West", and Forrest was known as the "Wizard of the Saddle". The two commanders were at the height of their military prowess in November 1864, and side by side at the crossroads of Spring Hill they appeared invincible.
Federal General John M. Schofield commanding two army corps was retreating from Columbia through Spring Hill, to Franklin. General Forrest, like he had done so many times before against Federal forces, outmaneuvered Schofield during the march, and cut in behind him at Spring Hill, presenting the opportunity to take the whole Union force out of action. The Federals seemed to realize the danger they were in as US Col. Stone wrote, "The possession of Spring Hill would not only shut out the Union Army from the roads to Nashville, but would effectually bar the way in every direction."
On the 28th, the day before the Battle of Spring Hill, Cleburne called his troops together for what would be the last time. Addressing them in his rich Irish brogue, he vowed he would rather die than surrender. General Forrest had tremendous respect and admiration for his friend General Cleburne and once said at the Battle of Chickamauga, "Do you see that large body of infantry marching this way in columns of fours? That is General Pat Cleburne's division; Hell will break loose in Georgia in about fifteen minutes."
At about 4:15 pm on the 29th of November, to the shouts of their men, General Forrest and General Cleburne rode together with swords drawn and called the troops to action and to "Form Brigades!" Hell was about to break loose in Tennessee.