On the morning of the 14th Thomas issued orders for a general attack on the Confederate position. The flanks of the Union Army rested on the Cumberland and were covered by gunboats. The right was heavily supported by cavalry. A body of colored troops held the left under command of General Steadman. General Thomas’ plan was to demonstrate boldly on the left but to deliver his real attack from the right. Steadman moved a heavy force of white and black troops under General Cruft against the enemy on the morning of the 15th. They made an impetuous attack causing Hood to heavily reënforce his left and the assailants were repulsed with heavy loss.
Soon the plan of General Thomas began to develop. Smith advanced on the right, supported by Wood and covered by cavalry under Wilson; the whole right wing made a grand left wheel, sweeping like an avalanche over the enemy’s left wing. The first line was quickly crushed, the batteries stormed and carried, his position flanked and his whole line doubled up in the greatest confusion. Our cavalry dismounting joined in the charge and it was not long before the whole left wing was hopelessly broken. Hood saw the mistake he had made in sending his masses to the left and now hurried long lines of infantry and artillery from that part of his lines to support the center. He still held a strong position, protected by breastworks, fringed with rifle pits and abatis and bristling with artillery that swept all approaches. Smith prudently halted to reconnoiter. Wood came up on his left, Schofield swing round to his right, the cavalry being still to the right of him and well on to the enemy’s rear.
The army made a further advance, feeling the enemy’s position under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry and about nightfall Wood made a splendid dash against a battery, and carrying it, closed the battle for the day. Many guns and a large number of prisoners had been captured and so far Thomas had been successful. During the night both armies made a disposition for renewing the battle the