Before the back bone of the Army of Tennessee was
shattered at Nashville, and before the bloody fields of Franklin, there was
Decatur. In late 1864 the Army of Tennessee, now under the command of General
John Bell Hood, began his campaign towards Nashville in an effort to lure
Sherman into battle. First, he had to cross the Tennessee River.
Hood first planned to cross in Guntersville, Alabama, but
learned it was heavily guarded. Reports of the “lightly guarded” Decatur, and
fear of Federal gunboats at Guntersville, Hood changed his plans. He would
finally arrive on the 26th of October 1864, where he would face
between 3,000 to 5,000 Federals under the command of Brigadier General Robert
Hood sent out skirmishers towards the main fortification,
which were soon driven out. Hood realized he could not take Decatur without
heavy casualties, and he needed as many men as possible for his invasion of
Tennessee. Finding Decatur “too tough a nut to crack”, Hood withdrew and
crossed the Tennessee River in Tuscumbia, Alabama, protected from Federal
gunboats by the Muscle Shoals.
The 35th Alabama Infantry prominently fought
in this battle, being the skirmishers thrown out against the fort. We will be
returning once again to portray this notable event in the units history.