On November 30, 1864 the Southern General John Hood held a position on the hill where the park is now located. He decided to attack the Northern troops located toward Franklin. His line was the largest single array of troops in the entire war, some 19,000 men moving shoulder-to-shoulder across the fields at the foot of the hill.
The plaque pictured above tells it best:
At 4 p.m. here on Winstead Hill, launched the single largest attack made during the American Civil War. The Federal soldiers never forgot the sheer spectacle of the Confederates sweeping across the fields before you with bands playing “Dixie” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” One Union observer later wrote that “we were spellbound with admiration, although they were our hated foes.”
Maybe the musicians should have altered the playlist with a tune less controversial than “Dixie.” The Union troops listened for a bit then opened fire. When the smoke cleared at day’s end there were over 6,000 Southern casualties. The action was a disaster for the South.
If I were the general I’d have suggested playing “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
In just the first few minutes of battle, five Southern generals lost their lives in the field just to the right of the hill. Altogether 15 Southern Generals were killed in the fierce fight. Hood’s forces were rendered incapable of effectively engaging in battle for the remainder of the war.
If memory serves correctly Hood was Robert E. Lee’s right hand man in The Battle of Gettysburg, afterwards going to GA to harass Northern General Sherman near Atlanta as Sherman “Drove Old Dixe Down.”
Imagine walking from Gettysburg to Atlanta and on to Nashville as these troops must have done, including the musicians. Tough gig, tougher crowd– b.e.