They Came Only to Die: The Battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864

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Sean Michael Chick
Pub Date:
February 2023
Trade paper, 6 x 9
150 images, 10 maps, 192 pp
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About the Book


The November 1864 battle of Franklin left the Army of Tennessee stunned. In only a few hours, the army lost 6,000 men and a score of generals. Rather than pause, John Bell Hood marched his army north to Nashville. He had risked everything on a successful campaign and saw his offensive as the Confederacy’s last hope. There was no time to mourn. There was no question of attacking Nashville.

Too many Federals occupied too many strong positions. But Hood knew he could force them to attack him and, in doing so, he could win a defensive victory that might rescue the Confederacy from the chasm of collapse. Unfortunately for Hood, he faced George Thomas. He was one of the Union’s best commanders, and he had planned and prepared his forces. But with battle imminent, the ground iced over, Thomas had to wait. An impatient Ulysses S. Grant nearly sacked him, but on December 15-16, Thomas struck and routed Hood’s army. He then chased him out of Tennessee and into Mississippi in a grueling winter campaign.

After Nashville, the Army of Tennessee was never again a major fighting force. Combined with William Tecumseh Sherman’s march through Georgia and the Carolinas and Grant’s capture of Petersburg and Richmond, Nashville was the first peal in the long death knell of the Confederate States of America. In They Came Only to Die: The Battle of Nashville, historian Sean Michael Chick offers a fast-paced, well analyzed narrative of John Bell Hood’s final campaign, complete with the most accurate maps yet made of this crucial battle.


Sean Michael Chick is a New Orleans native and tour guide. He is earned a master’s degree at Southeastern Louisiana University. He contributes to the Emerging Civil War and the Forgotten Battles YouTube channel. They Came Only to Die is his fourth book on the Civil War.