For the members here who have studied and pondered the events of the evening of November 29th, 1864, on the approach to Spring Hill, Tennessee : what is your personal opinion, from all the sources you have read and discussions on the topic, on what actually occurred on the Columbia Pike ?
The "accepted facts" are that some twenty thousand Union troops passed "within sight of the campfires of Hood's sleeping army" (CWPT). Most modern historical accounts of the campaign as a whole tend to gloss over this, with terms like "for reasons never determined" or "vague and unclear" &etc. and jump straight to the events at Franklin the next day.
On perusing the threads here that briefly touch on the subject, I have found references to a few books I have not read, but hope to soon, now that I am aware of them. I am currently methodically slogging through all the reports, Union & Confederate, that pass over the time period in question in Series One Volume 45 (Part One) of the ORs, but have yet to uncover a mention from a Union officer of actually moving up the Columbia Pike to Spring Hill "in sight" of Confederate Lines - Regimental command reports I have read so far talk of being alerted in the "middle of the night" and moved to Franklin by morning, with no mention of route or details of the march. (Confederate reports are even more vague - altho I would suppose that be the time these reports were prepared, the "incident at Spring Hill" had probably been beaten to death in the conversations of the staff officers, and undoubtedly over-shadowed by the tremendous fight at Franklin, and the defeat at Nashville and the subsequent retreat.)
From both perspectives, then, Union and Confederate, describe what you think the activity along the Columbia Pike towards Spring Hill would have looked and sounded like; I am not interested (here) in speculation about command decisions, what orders were or not given to which Confederate commanders who did or did not follow them, &etc;
Also, if you believe the Union troops did not in fact move up the Columbia Pike, but skirted the western-most end of the southern flank of the Army of Tennessee that were set just to the east of the Pike, and moved thru the woods between the small hill and the N&D rail-line to reach the northwest side of Spring Hill, I'd like to discuss that possibility (with the caveat that this is PURE speculation, with NO supporting documentation that I have yet found - it is however, one possible "explanation" for 20,000 troops passing directly in front of the Confederate lines "without notice")
Alrighty, then. Well, seeing as how I really can't bring myself to enter a "Slavery was/was not The Cause of The War" discussion, or sit in judgement of the moral failings/strengths of Federal President Lincoln, I guess I'll bid you good people a confused farewell and let you get back to whatever it is you are doing here.
It's been some time since I have read accounts on this incredible and unbelievable feat by Major General John Schofield and his XXIII Corps. I had read Wiley Sword's book: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah and it seems there is a very good account and in rather good detail as to the manuevering to accomplish this impossible task.
As for the Confederates, there was a series of re-adjustments to the line and with General Hood perhaps who was not at the top of his game due to the laudnum and such, he was approving changes in the line which eventually left the Columbia Pike open. Open only to such an extent that the Confederate infantry I do not think was any further than a couple hundred yards from intercepting them. It was a miracle that this many troops were able to march on past, silent or not, and get away from their entrapment.