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Over the course of the next two and a half years, Nashville became the second-most fortified city in America, second only to Washington, D. Its works included star-shaped Fort Negley, the largest Union fort west of the nation’s capital.Formerly a major general of volunteers, Thomas had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the regular U. Army, a more meaningful rank for a career army man like him. He had a reputation as an unflappable commander, who had seen action at Mill Springs, Perryville and Stones River before winning accolades for his stand at the Battle of Chickamauga, which prevented the Confederates from pursuing the rest of the fleeing Union army.Two months later, at the Battle of Chattanooga, it was men of Thomas’ command who routed the besieging Confederates from Missionary Ridge.Hood determined to assail Nashville, still hoping to draw Sherman back from Georgia. At Spring Hill, Tennessee, the Confederates allowed a Union division to escape from Columbia and pass by them unmolested to Franklin, a small town south of Nashville.