Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Battle Of Nashville - Thomas Attack On The Confederate Left - December 15, 1864

Belle Meade Mansion

Bullet Holes / Belle Meade Mansion

On the morning of December 15, 1864 General George H. Thomas wanted to attack the Confederates early but he was unable because of a thick fog that settled around Nashville. By late morning the Union Cavalry of James Wilson set out from their lines on the Charlotte Pike as the fog lifted in a great wheeling movement that was to sweep in a wide arc on the extreme right of the Union Army attacking the extreme left of the Confederate Army. His Cavalry was armed with repeating rifles and fought as mobilized infantry. A concept invented by Nathan Bedford Forrest and by this time refined by the Union Army's superiority in modern firepower. Wilson's Cavalry swept away the Confederate artillery at Bells Bend on the Cumberland and Confederate infantry near the intersection of White Bridge road and Charlotte Pike. The Confederate Cavalry commanded by General James Chalmer's was headquartered at the Belle Meade Mansion, the home of William Giles Harding on the Harding Pike. The mansion was completed in 1853. William bought the land in the early 1800's and started building the original house. He was very pro-secession and donated 500,000 dollars to the Southern cause which would be millions in today's dollars.   

  When the Union Army occupied Nashville in February 1862 William was arrested by Andrew Johnson and sent to a Union prison at Ft. Mackinac in Michigan. His wife Elizabeth was left to tend to the farm. William was released on parole in September. Belle Meade was famous for breeding thoroughbred race horse's of which many of the present and past Kentucky Derby winners can be traced to. General Chalmer's wagon train was parked on the race track behind the house. Wilson's cavalry burned the wagon train while Chalmer's troops were away. When Chalmer's cavalry returned they attacked and drove off the Union Cavalry but ran into Union infantry nearby and were forced to retreat. This action took place around the mansion and as the Confederate cavalry ran through the front yard in a fighting withdrawal the 19 year old daughter of William, Selene Harding, as a show of support, stood on the front porch waving a handkerchief as bullets whizzed all around her. Bullet marks can still be seen on the columns of the front porch.
General James H. Wilson

General James Chalmers

Selene Harding

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