It was a scene of legend, short-lived but long remembered. Sent to stop the advance of Union troops heading to Nashville, General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry immediately opened the fight and mercilessly pressed the enemy towards the small town of Spring Hill, Tennessee. Their fortitude had bought precious time, but soon exhausted and out of ammunition, Forrest's men desperately awaited the arrival of Hood's infantry support. Just as hope seemed lost, General Patrick R. Cleburne's banners were seen cresting the hill. As the lead elements of Govan's brigade peeled off into the fields, the two great generals met and together, swords drawn, headed down the lane and into battle. There could be no greater contrast of character to witness than the fiery cavalry chieftain, known to his enemies as the "Devil", and the stoic infantry leader deemed the "Stonewall of the West" riding side by side inspiring their men to continue to fight.
However, as the afternoon fell into dusk, their hopes of crushing Schofield's forces and taking possession of the pike towards Nashville were lost, as the Union army slipped away. What resulted was one of the darkest days of the Confederacy - Hood's disastrous frontal assault against the well-entrenched enemy at Franklin on November 30, 1864. After valiant but futile attacks, their strength was never the same, leaving one quarter of the Army of the Tennessee dead on the battlefield. Included in the tragic death toll was the beloved General Cleburne, killed in the forefront of the assault, a young hero whom General Robert E. Lee described as a shining "meteor on a clouded sky". General Forrest would live to fight many other battles in defense of his country, surviving the war with his honor. When asked by a correspondent after the war to name the most remarkable figure the War Between the States ever produced, General Lee immediately responded, "A man I never met. . .his name was Forrest".