“Reminiscences of Mary Elizabeth Baugh Ryman,” by Mrs. T.W. Ryman, in Recollections and Reminiscences, 1861 – 1865 through World War I, Vol. 7; South Carolina Division United Daughters of the Confederacy; 1997
Mother: Sarah Elizabeth Neeley Baugh
Sister: Alabama “Tommie” Baugh
Brother: Dea Baugh.
“The next day Mother and I went back home and found six Yankees asleep in our beds. They had not bothered to remove their boots which were covered with mud. They asked Mother if she wanted to search them to see whether they had robbed her or not. Mother told them that she would not care to search them. They had cooked all the food we had except the bran from the meal. With this Mother made a hoecake for our breakfast. The neighbors, hearing of our plight, sent in some food and that day for dinner we served sixteen Confederate Soldiers to pork and beans.
“Many dead Yankees were on the Street. A negro man came in during the day and brought a wounded soldier who was too ill to move on to the hospital, and Mother took him in to nurse. They proved to be James Brandon, from Mississippi, and his body-servant. Later in the day Captain Burgess was brought in very badly wounded. We did all we could for them. Mr. Brandon, after four months of suffering, was sent to prison at Columbus, Ohio, in an army wagon. A Mr. Fox wrote Mother that Mr. Brandon was not doing well and that if something was not done for him he would die. Mr. Fox asked Mother to go to Ohio to see what she could do about getting him paroled. Mother and Mr. Brandon’s brother-in-law went together and, after much red-tape, they got him paroled, and the took him to Louisville, Kentucky, and then he took a boat for Mississippi.
“When Mr. Brandon was in Franklin, Ned, his body-servant, would go out and buy things for his master to eat. When Mr. Brandon was wounded he gave his horse to General Clayborne. General Clayborne was afterwards killed, and his horse received thirty two bullet holes in her. …
“Mother took us to the McGarrack farm for safety. They began to bring in the wounded. Mrs. McGarrack had a new bolt of domestic, which she gladly used for bandages. After this was exhausted, they used all the bed linen. By and by, the beds were full of wounded and the floors and even in the yard. I waited on the wounded all night. A fire was built in the yard in order that we might see.”
Editor’s note: Four sources
From a newspaper article in the McGavock-Cowan scrapbook in the Carnton Plantation archives. The paper is not identified or dated. The article’s headline is partially obscured, but seems to be “Southern Fields.” The writer is not identified, but the article is attributed to “Special Correspondence of The Times.”
Moscow was standing in the Carter House yard when he gave this interview:
“I was home on parole.
“Generals Schofield and Cox had their headquarters at my father’s house, where also many of our neighbors gathered. …
“Hood’s first charge was made at 4 o’clock, and it fell upon this point, as did all the heavy assaults. You see this locust thicket on our right? That thicket then covered five acres, but after the fight it was a forest of tooth-picks. In that vegetable patch to our left General Cleburne fell dead. … The cornfield to the left of the pike was filled with dead and eying and the corn (field) to the right of the pike was a counterpart of the other. In this yard and in that garden I could walk from fence to fence on dead bodies, mostly those of Confederates. In trying to clear up I scraped together a half bushel of brains right around the house and the whole place was dyed with blood. Nothing in the shape of horse, mule, jack nor jenny was left in the neighborhood. … It was not until Christmas, twenty-five days afterwards, that I was enabled to borrow a yoke of oxen, and I spent the whole of that Christmas day hauling seventeen dead horses from this yard.”
The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864, by Jacob D. Cox, Late Major-General Commanding Twenty-third army corps; 1897
“To leave home, pillage was almost certain, and blackened ruins might be all that would be left. … With one accord it was determined to remain: perhaps … (our) presence would be respected, and the house spared. … Although Hood was said to be a rash fighter, it was hardly thought he would be reckless enough to make a determined assault on the formidable works in front of him; but to be prepared for any emergency, it was directed that a bundle of clothing proportioned to the strength of each one be prepared, for the twofold purpose of having that much saved in case all else was lost, and for partial protection should … (we) be forced to leave the house. If the latter became necessary, all were instructed to throw their respective bundles over their backs, and follow the leader. … The cellar afforded the securest retreat. … In the gloom of the cellar the children cowered at the feet of their parents, while the bullets rained against the house, and a cannon ball went crashing through. …
“A Confederate soldier brought the sad tidings that Captain Theodrick Carter, … (my) brother, lay wounded on the field. … (I) went immediately in search, but by misdirection went to another part of the field. In the mean time, General Thomas B. Smith, of whose staff … (my brother) was a member, reported the casualty and led the way, followed by the father, three sisters, and sister in law. …
“(They) bore him back to die in the home he had not seen for two years and more.”
National Tribune, Dec. 11, 1884
Letter written Nov. 18, 1884, by Moscow Carter to J.D. Remington, 73rd Illinois
In an accompanying letter to the paper, Remington describes shooting a Confederate officer “about 100 feet from the east door of the Carter House” during the Battle of Franklin. Remington wrote that some Federal soldiers who were wounded and captured told him he had shot the son of the Carter House’s owner. In an effort to determine if he had, indeed, shot Capt. Tod Carter, Remington wrote to Moscow Carter. Moscow replied that Tod:
“Was mortally wounded 300 or 400 yards from the house in the field in front of the locust thicket, and considerably to your right. …
“The man you refer to as falling near the east door, I remember seeing there the next morning. He was a Tennessee soldier and was, I think, from Robertson County. His name I heard, but have forgotten.
“The old cotton-gin still stands, but somewhat changed in appearance, being much improved.”
National Tribune, Nov. 13, 1884
From a letter Moscow Carter wrote Oct. 24, 1884, to Col. A.W. Wills in Nashville, Tennessee:
“It is a fact that human bones were removed on my place in leveling a hillside for a barn.
“This occurred in the early part of 1882, and was frequently mentioned by me to friends and strangers visiting the battle-ground, and was a matter of astonishment to all, as everyone, like myself, had supposed all remains had been removed to the respective cemeteries – Federal and Confederate.
“In making this excavation for the barn, the work was done with a plow and road-scraper, and while the ground was very wet. The first bones noticed were very small ones, I suppose, from the hands and feet, with now and then a large one. They were scattered over the fill by the scraper, which was dumped wherever convenient, and so disguised by the adhering mud as to be scarcely recognized. The work may have progressed some time before the bones were discovered, as the ground was thickly set with locust roots and we were not expecting bones in that locality.
“At length a jaw-bone was found and recognized as that of a human being. That fact ascertained, I sought the place whence they were removed, and after diligent search found it. It showed some slight vestige of clothing of a bluish color, from which fact, taken with another – the locality, it being about where the Federal works stood – I concluded the remains were those of a Federal soldier or soldiers. This evidence, however, was not conclusive of that, since Confederate soldiers were often dressed in Federal uniforms.
“About all the bones removed by the scraper were deposited in the fill; a few of the smaller ones, not noticeable at the time in the mud, were revealed after the mud was washed off by the rains. These I intended gathering up and burying, but, with a little exposure to the air, they crumbled and my kind intentions were lose.
“No bones are visible now, and have not been since a very short time after the excavation was made.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 17, pages 542-543
“On the morning of November 30 two mounted Federal officers came to my house and asked for breakfast. I told them that I would give them breakfast willingly, but I had no flour, that their men had taken my flour as it was being brought from the mill. These men belonged to the commissary department, and offered to sell me a barrel of flour, and I gladly paid their price – ten dollars. They said that their forces would not remain in Franklin, and that my friends would soon be in town.
“In an hour or so they came and had breakfast, expressing their gratitude and praising Southern cooking. About noon they came again to correct a statement about evacuating Franklin, explaining that the ‘Rebels’ were advancing so fast that they could not get their (wagon) trains away, and that their men were then making breastworks.
“Very soon the fighting began, and there was a stampede. Many Federals ran by my house. Several wounded came by. Some of them asked for water. One was very weak from loss of blood, and I gave him some whiskey. Another was badly shot, and I tore one of my lace curtains for a bandage. … I took my children and servants to the cellar, and we remained there until the heavy fighting was over.
“When I went to the front door, four men were standing at my gate. I asked whether they were Federals or Confederates, and they replied that they belonged to the Twenty-eighth Mississippi Regiment. I was so rejoiced that I could not keep from crying. I invited them to lunch. I had been preparing food for the Confederates all day. In less than thirty minutes my house was filled with hungry soldiers.
“With General Hood came my personal friends, General Frank Cheatham, Bishop Quintard, Col. John L. House, and my cousin, Charles M. Ewing. I was inviting all who came to lunch when Charles Ewing stopped me and said that it was impossible for me to feed Hood’s army. He said that he would stop the soldiers from coming in, but I told him that he must not do it as long as I had anything to eat.
“After the Confederates retreated and my house was cleared of the wounded, it was made the headquarters for the Federal Provost Marshal. Of the Confederates severely wounded who were cared for until able to be moved were Capt. M.B. Pilcher, of Tennessee, and Capt. John M. Hickey, of Missouri.”
From Sarah Carter’s obituary, in Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 20, page 487:
Sarah Ewing was born in 1826. Her parents died while she was a child and she was reared by Mrs. Sallie McGavock, a neighbor and relative. At the age of 15, Sarah married Boyd McNairy Sims, a lawyer and rich planter. She became a widow with three children at the age of 23.
At the age of 27 she married Joseph W. Carter, an attorney and state senator. They had two children.
When she was about 30, Joseph died. In 1875, Sarah married Judge John M. Gaut, a Nashville lawyer.
Gaut died in 1895, and Sarah moved back to her house in Franklin. She died in 1912.
See the Confederate Veteran magazine’s September 1904 issue (page 422) re her account of helping Adelicia Acklen, Nashville’s richest woman and mistress of Belmont Mansion, save a huge cotton crop in Louisiana.
For more about Sarah “Sally” Carter, see interview of Ralph Naylor.
Williamson County Historical Journal, No. 7, “Tinth” Anniversary edition, 1966-1976
“The retreating (Federal) army arrived … tired and many almost exhausted. … They commenced immediately throwing up breastworks. You would have been astonished to see how quick the work was completed, and with what strength.
“We felt great uneasiness of mind, fearing that there would be a great battle. We asked of almost everyone passing if that would be the case. They replied, ‘We will only skirmish with the rebels till we get our wagon trains away, and then we will invite them to Nashville.’ …
“About half past three o’clock I was sitting at the dinner table, when I heard the roar of artillery. I ran into the yard to listen. There was a skirmishing for a few minutes only, when, with a tremendous yell, the rebels made a charge along the whole line.
“The bullets were falling so thick it was unsafe to remain longer. Men, women, and children were running in every direction, together with unmanageable teams, loose horses and mules. … I hastened to the cellar with the rest of my family and neighbors who sought protection with us. …
“About 10 o’clock suddenly the firing ceased for a few minutes. I heard persons in the sitting room above. It proved to be some Federal officers off duty for a time, who stopped to let us know how the battle was going. All the evening other portions of the house and the entire front yard were filled with soldiers who were almost worn out with the hard marches of the last few days, and the tough work of the morning.
“I heard an awful groan; someone had been struck in the back yard. I went to the door, and within a few yards of me lay a Federal soldier who, I supposed, had been wounded a short time before the firing ceased. I sent one of the soldiers out to look after his comrade and to give him water. But he did not have to remain long; the wound proved to be mortal, and the poor man soon expired.
“Another desperate charge! Such yells! I can never forget them. I ran again to the cellar.
“In a very short time three wounded Federal soldiers came in from the battlefield and stopped in the yard, for they could go no farther. I called to the men outside to bring them into the cellar. Two were slightly wounded. The third was struck in the arm, and the main artery was cut. He was bleeding profusely. One of the neighbors ran up at the risk of his life and brought a bucket of water. My mother had some cotton near. I poured water on the wound for some time. I then put cotton on each side where the ball entered and came out, bound it up with my handkerchief, and with two others belonging to my sister and little brother, made for him a sling.
“He lay down to rest, but complained of being cold from loss of blood. I had nothing to cover him with. What was I to do? A thought struck me. I took off my woolen skirt and tucked it around him. He remained for some time, though all the while bleeding a little. His comrades decided to try to overtake an ambulance with him, and I suppose they did, for they did not return.
“Soon a fire broke out in town. … We thought of nothing else but being burned alive in the cellar, as there was no way of getting out if the fire continued to spread. The rebels could see the position of our forces, and consequently, the fighting was more terrible.
“Several buildings were consumed, but thanks to a kind Providence, the fire was extinguished by the timely interference of soldiers, assisted by citizens. …
“About midnight the Federal Army began to retreat …, and gradually the firing ceased. Oh! How grateful to God we felt that it was over, as we thought of the dying and the dead on the battlefield. Then we emerged from our place of refuge. I dragged beds into my mother’s room for us to rest there, as we wished to spend the remainder of the night of terror together. I could not sleep, for I longed to go to the battlefield to alleviate the suffering, and, at least, do all in my power to make the wounded more comfortable until they could be brought to hospitals.
“At 3 o’clock, again, such cannonading! What could it mean? It shook the earth, the house; everything seemed in motion above and below. It was a farewell salute sent by the rebels to the retreating army, now far away. I was so frightened I sprang up and aroused everyone to get to the cellar immediately or we should be killed. … Just as I reached the cellar door a shell exploded close by, and had I been three seconds later in passing, I should have been struck by some of the fragments which flew about.
“In about half an hour we knew that the battle had ended. How grateful we felt to God that we were spared! … While we were talking and thinking about the dreadful night we had passed, we heard footsteps at the door. The bell rang, and as with strange, nervous feelings I opened the door, who should stand face to face with me but my own dear brother and cousin? They were just from the field. Words are inadequate to express my happiness. They had been in the rebel army over three years. We had not seen them for two years. There was consternation in the house. … My mother was overjoyed that she was once more permitted to clasp her boy to her heart. He remained with us one day and night, and then joined his command near Murfreesboro. We saw him no more. …
“Early (in) the … morning … I went to the field. The sight was dreadful. It seemed I could scarcely move for fear of stepping on men either dead or wounded. Some were cold and stiff, others with the lifeblood ebbing out, unconscious of all around, while others were writhing in agony, calling, ‘Water!’ ‘Water!’; I can hear them even now.
“The hardest fighting was done near the cotton gin, not far from the pike leading to Columbia, and near the locust grove where the gallant 72nd Illinois stood. … I could not look upon such sights long, but hurried back to care for the wounded.
“There were forty-four hospitals in town – three for the Federal wounded and the rest for the Confederates. Red flags were waving from unoccupied dwellings, the seminaries, churches, and every business house in town.
“My mother and I took charge of a hundred and twenty wounded men, who occupied the Presbyterian Church, it being the largest Federal hospital, and with what we could spare assisted at another which was in a house owned by my mother and near our own home.
“When we first went to the hospital the wounded men told us they had had nothing to eat for two days. We first furnished them with bread, meat, tea, and coffee, every little luxury we could prepare, for several days. Then they drew scanty rations from the rebels – flour the color of ashes and a little poor beef not suitable for well men, much less for wounded. …
“All the cooking was done, and in truth, everything eatable furnished, at our house. … We would get up at day light and with the help of servants commence cooking their breakfast. … We fed the men twice a day. Sometimes at 10 o’clock at night we would carry them something prepared with our own hands. …
“When my mother and I entered the hospital, how the dim eyes would brighten! The men would call out, ‘Oh! Mother, come this way,’ or ‘Fanny, please come here. I’m so glad to see you. I know you will do something for me.’ The exclamation of all was, ‘… I don’t know what we should do if it were not for you and your mother. We should have starved.’ …
“Many had been robbed not only of their blankets and overcoats but of their coats, and were lying on the floor upon handfuls of straw, with nothing else to protect or cover them. We furnished them all the bedding we could spare, and made cotton pillows for all. There were no bandages to be had, and I made what I could out of my own underclothing. …
“We never had time to rest, only as we sat down to eat something hurriedly, for as soon as we had finished feeding our patients in the morning, we had to return home to prepare the next meal.
“I had a sister who was very ill at the time, and we were obliged to leave her in the care of a little servant about seven years old. She said she could get along better than the poor wounded could, if we neglected them to stay with her. …
“My little brother, twelve years old, … always went with us to the hospital and would raise the weary heads of the soldiers to give them coffee or water, and feed those who were not able to feed themselves. He even went upon the battlefield and worked hard, covering the dead who were not half-buried.”
“What a happy set of men the Union wounded were when they heard the glad news! It was on Saturday, December 17th, when the advance cavalry of our troops entered the town. I was at the hospital. What shouts were given by those who were able to creep to the door! The rebels retreated so rapidly that there was no time to remove their wounded. As soon as the hospital trains could run from Nashville they were removed there.”
Editor’s note: During the Federal occupation of Franklin, Fannie was courted by Lt. Col. George W. Grummond, and they married soon after the war. Only after Grummond’s death in the 1866 Fetterman Massacre out West did the pregnant Fannie learn Grummond was a married man on their wedding day, and that he had abandoned his pregnant wife and child in Detroit. See Oglala Lakota College history professor Shannon Smith Calitri’s introduction to the 2004 reprint of Frances Courtney Grummond Carrington’s My Army Life and the Fort Phil Kearney Massacre, first published in 1910. Calitri and John H. Monnett in his book, Where a Hundred Soldiers Were Killed, cite examples of how Fannie’s book helps perpetuate myths about the “massacre.”
“Incidents in my own experiences in the Confederate War,” by Mrs. Bethenia Edmondson.
“Quoted from a newspaper clipping belonging to Mrs. George Cowan”; reprinted in “Legends of Franklin, Tennessee,” master of arts degree thesis by Nancy Amelia Greer, submitted in June 1930, Department of English, George Peabody College for Teachers.
“On the day after the battle of Franklin, accompanied by my little brother, eight years old, … I rode on horseback nine miles to that place, to enquire after a relative whom we had heard was badly wounded. A pathetic sight met my eyes on entering the hospital – a number of dead soldiers on either side, partly covered with blankets, their worn out boots and shoes exposed to view. We found my relative with a leg amputated, and as he could not for some time be removed to my home, I returned at once and prepared as much food as I could take on horseback, going with it the day following, and distributing to him and the other wounded soldiers around him; they so much enjoyed the viands prepared for them and seemed so grateful.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 23, pages 4-7, 44
“All during the night of the 29th the Federal army was moving from Spring Hill toward Franklin, and about sunup it began pouring into the town. …
“(Brig. Gen. William Grose) came to my (widowed) mother’s house and asked permission to pitch his marquee in her yard. Our house fronted the Carter’s Creek Pike, or rather the main street of the town. He informed my mother that the Federal army was going to make a stand at Franklin, saying: ‘In my opinion, a big battle will be fought here today.’ No mortal can tell with what a thrill of excitement I heard this announcement, but my mother and the General were in a more serious mood. With her tact my mother said: ‘General, instead of pitching your tent in the yard, you can use my parlor for your headquarters, and breakfast is just announced. You and your staff come in and take breakfast.’ …
“(Fort Granger) was separated from the town by the river and constituted a permanent fort, which had been constructed there in January, 1863, by (U.S.) Gen. Gordon Granger. This fort was frowning with heavy artillery and siege pieces. From that point the Federals could sweep the plain lying south of Franklin for two miles.
“On the south margin of the town the Federals formed a line of battle, with their left resting upon the river on the east and a line extending around the town back to the river on the north in an irregular semicircle. … The Federal soldiers were at once put to work constructing fortifications entirely around the south margin of the town. They worked like beavers, using houses, fences, timber and dirt. … By two o’clock … they had completed their breastworks. …
“These breastworks were high enough to protect the soldiers and had head logs on the top, so that the Federals could be reached only when the Confederate bullets entered the cracks between the head logs and the breastworks. Every few yards along short arms, fifteen or twenty feet in length, were constructed at right angles with the breastworks to prevent enfilading.
“Out in front of the main breastworks a second line of earthworks was constructed of less importance. …
“As the Confederate army began to file in between the two hills and to deploy right and left and take their positions in line, the Confederate bands began to play ‘Dixie,’ and a shout … went up. … There was a moment of silence, and then the Federal band down near the gin house played ‘Hail Columbia,’ and the Federals replied with a vigorous shout of defiance. … The two armies were in sight of each other; they were nearly two miles apart. …
“I spent the entire afternoon upon the top of the barn and woodshed, in a tree top, and other high places, seeing all that could be seen. At the time the first assault was made the bullets were flying and whizzing around everywhere to such and extent that I concluded I was as liable to be hit as a soldier, and I retreated to the cellar. … Just before entering the cellar, while standing at the front gate, I saw a Yankee get shot just across the street. This was the first casualty of the battle that I saw.
“The cellar door faced west from my mother’s house, which stood about one hundred yards inside of the Yankee breastworks. Every minute or two a bullet would strike the house above and frequently sizzle in a pile of potatoes in the cellar. We huddled up close to the western wall. My brother (Thomas Norfleet Figuers), just older than myself, a negro man, and my dog Fannie were my companions in the cellar. I felt perfectly safe for a while. Something I heard or saw made me laugh, and the negro man said: ‘Marse Hardin, don’t you know that we will all be killed if you laugh?’ My dog crouched at my feet and whined. …
“A (dud) bombshell, … of conical shape, struck the main sill off the house just over our heads and within a few feet of us. … I said to my brother: ‘We are just in range of that cannon which was located on Bostic Hill, and I am going out of here.’
“He replied: ‘You will be killed in a minute if your go out.’
“I said: ‘I had rather die upstairs than down here,’ and left. …
“When I got upstairs I found that General (Grose) … was out on the firing line, and several members of his staff were the only persons in the house, except some wounded Confederate prisoners. When the first charge was made the Southern soldiers who were wounded near the Yankee breastworks were taken prisoners and carried to the rear of the nearest house, and to my amazement, I found a large number of wounded prisoners in my mother’s house. … I made up fires, found pillows, made them all as comfortable as possible by making pallets on the floor and dressing their wounds as best I could. I was the only member of the family in the house. My mother and the children had sought safety by going to a neighbor’s house farther down the street and more under the hill.
“Some of the wounded were suffering dreadfully. … I concluded to go down to the Public Square to a certain doctor’s office. I found him and told him that all of the houses in that end of town were full of wounded Confederate prisoners and that no doctor was with them. I shall never forget his reply: ‘If they are as bad off as you say, I could not do them any good, and it is too dangerous to risk going up there.’ I was ashamed of him then and am ashamed of him now, and I will not give his name.
“As soon as the firing ceased, which was about two o’clock, in the morning, … my mother came home and at once took charge of the situation. In a little while all of the wounded soldiers were calling her (Little Mother.) …
“Just about daylight, and after I learned that our troops were in possession of the town, I started out to go over the battlefield, accompanied only by one of our slaves, a little younger than myself. The first dead person that I found was a little Yankee boy, about my own age, lying in the middle of the street with his hands thrown back over his head, pale in death. The sight of this boy somehow impressed me more than the thousands of dead men I was to look upon. …
“Inside of the breastworks were the dead and wounded Yankees. … Many of the dead Yankees along near the old ginhouse were killed by being struck over the head with the guns in the hands of the Confederates standing on the breastworks above them. …
“Outside and for a long distance back were the dead and wounded Confederates. Men were going out over the field with such lights as they could procure, hunting for dead and wounded comrades and friends. Men, shot and wounded in every part of the body, were crying out for help, telling their names and calling for friends to help them. It was … a weird and gruesome sight.
“From the Lewisburg Pike on the east, along in front of, and just south of the Federal breastworks as far as the Columbia Pike and west of the Pike as far as the locust thicket, the dead and wounded were so thick upon the ground that it might be said without exaggeration that one could walk upon the dead and never touch the ground.
“A … ditch, made by throwing up the breastworks, was full of the dead. Sometimes they would be piled on one another several deep.
“In front of the Yankee battery which faced the Columbia Pike you would find a man with his head shot off. Others had arms and legs shot off, and some were cut in twain, or almost so.
“I remember seeing one poor fellow, sitting up and leaning back against something, whose whole under jaw had been cut off by a grape shot, and his tongue and under lip were hanging down on his breast. I knelt down and asked him if I could do anything for him. He had a little piece of pencil and an envelope, … he wrote: ‘No; John B. Hood will be in New York before three weeks.’
“To give some idea of the number of bullets that were flying through the air that night: There was a locust thicket just in front of the Yankee breastworks, west of the Columbia Pike and up against it. The trees had been set out about ten feet apart some time before the war and averaged from four to six inches across at the stump. These trees were stripped of their bark and every limb by bullets, and many of them were struck by so many bullets that they fell of their own weight. …
“I distinctly remember seeing General Hood riding down through the streets of Franklin with his one wooden leg and his long, tawny mustache and whiskers. I … was much disappointed. …
“By the middle of the morning troops detailed for the purpose began the sad work of burying our dead heroes. They dug wide trenches, about two feet deep, in which they placed the dead soldiers side by side, shoulder to shoulder, just as they had stood in many a hard-fought battle. A piece of blanket was placed over each face, and they folded the hands, nevermore to hold a gun. …
“The Federals were not buried until the following Saturday, after the battle was fought on Wednesday. They were buried generally just as they had fallen by pulling dirt from the breastworks down on them. Many of them had been stripped of their clothing by living (Confederate) soldiers who were almost naked. On Saturday it began to rain, and on the outside of the breastworks in the ditch where so many soldiers were killed the water was literally running blood. …
“Right in front of the Carter House, on the margin of the pike, there was a locust tree, then about five inches in diameter. … A Yankee soldier standing behind this tree was shot through the head. … His left shoulder was against the tree, his head had dropped on his bosom, his gun in his left hand had kept him from falling on the left side, and his heavy iron ramrod in his right hand supported him on that side, and there he was standing in that position dead. …
“Theodore Carter … was wounded near the barn on his father’s place. …
“The large female institute and female college, courthouse, every church, and a large percentage of the private buildings were filled with the wounded. …
“Most of the citizens were hard pressed to supply the necessaries of life for their families; but … they took charge of the wounded and divided with them their last morsel. Certain ladies in the town took charge of certain public buildings. My mother, in addition to having her own house full of wounded, had charge of the wounded in the Episcopal church, near by. …
“The rain on the third day after the battle turned into a snow, and during the eighteen days that the Confederates occupied the town it was the most terrible spell of weather I ever knew. There were snow, sleet, and ice continually, with the thermometer down to zero.
“Food got scarcer and scarcer each day. Many a day I went out through the country in an old dump cart hunting for food. We would take a large wash kettle, holding about twenty gallons, and make it full of soup and plenty of red pepper. For this soup I brought in from the country Irish potatoes, cabbage, dried beans, and turnips, and in making it we used any kind of meat obtainable. The soldiers thought this was great diet: in fact, the best they had had for more than a year. …
“On the night of the battle, the Federals removed all their wounded that could be taken away, but the wounded prisoners were placed in the Presbyterian church, and frequently in the mornings they would bury half a dozen soldiers. One morning in looking over the faces of the dead I discovered that one was still living and called the attention of the party conducting the burial. The soldier was taken back into the hospital and escaped being buried alive. …
“A few days after the Federals reoccupied Franklin railroad traffic was renewed, and the wounded (Confederates) were taken away in open rackcars, such as cattle are … shipped in. Only a few of them had overcoats or blankets, the weather was dreadfully cold. …
“Col. William Lavel Butler, of the 25th Alabama … (had been) shot clear through from side to side with a Minie ball and … was desperately wounded. He was in my mother’s house. The officer in charge of removing the wounded had him examined by a surgeon, whose opinion was that he had sufficiently recovered to be sent to prison. Butler knew his own condition and that to be removed that day while the snowstorm was raging would be certain death, so he replied to the officer: ‘This is murder to remove me now.’ The officer replied: ‘You are a prisoner and must go.’
“Colonel Butler then addressed my mother, who was pleading for him to be left, and said: ‘Little Mother, leave the room while I tell this officer what I think of him.’ I will not repeat his language to the officer, but it lacked a great deal of being Sunday school literature. …
“From the flash of the guns in the night you could see how the soldiers continually overshot each other. This was especially true when the fighting was close to the breastworks, where the flashes almost crossed each other.”
Notes from “A Boy couldn’t Miss Seeing the Battle of Franklin,” by Hugh Walker, The Tennessean, Nov. 25, 1962; and from the Save the Franklin Battlefield Web site (January 2009):
Hardin Figuers wrote “A Boy’s Impressions of the Battle of Franklin” in 1914, three years before his death.
Hardin was 15 at the time of the battle.
The family consisted of Hardin, a brother, three sisters and their widowed mother, Bethenia Hardin Perkins Figuers.
They lived in Boxmere, the big, two-story frame house at 909 West Main St. in Franklin; the house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Part of the Federal earthworks ran near Boxmere, and Hardin climbed one of the trees near his home to watch the battle.
Figuers grew up to be an attorney in Columbia, south of Franklin.
Life in Dixie During the War, by Mary A.H. Gay; 1897
Mary has been visiting an aunt in Alabama and is traveling home to Georgia by train. She has to stop overnight in West Point, Georgia:
“As soon as I stepped from the cars, (I) started to hunt a place at which to spend the night. … I saw Mr. John Pate, the depot agent at Decatur, coming towards me.
“ ‘Oh, Mr. Pate, have you heard anything from ma in the last week?’
“ ‘Yes; it went very hard with her, but she was some better this morning.’ ”
“I did not have to ask another question. I knew it all, and was dumb with grief. The thought that I would never see my darling brother again paralyzed me. …
“ ‘Killed on the battle-field, thirty steps from the breastworks at Franklin, Tennessee, November 30th, 1864,’ was the definite information regarding my brother’s death, left for me by Mr. Pate. …
“I did not believe it was God’s will that my brother should die, and I could not say to that Holy Being, ‘Thy will be done.’ In some way I felt a complicity in his death – a sort of personal responsibility. When my brother wrote to me from his adopted home in Texas that, having voted for secession, he believed it to be his duty to face the danger involved by that step, and fight for the principles of self-government vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States, I said nothing to discourage him. …
“I found my poor stricken mother almost prostrate. … Outwardly calm and resigned, yet almost paralyzed by the blow, she was being tenderly cared for by our saintly neighbor, Mrs. Ammi Williams and her family. … She … never recovered from the shock.”
Gay’s beloved stepbrother is Lt. Thomas J. Stokes of the 10th Texas. After the war his remains and those of many of the Confederate dead were reinterred in a plot the McGavocks provided adjacent to their family cemetery at Carnton. Mary traveled to Franklin to visit Tom’s grave, and she saw the need for a fence to protect the graves. She launched a successful drive to raise money for the wrought iron fence that still surrounds the McGavock Confederate Cemetery.
Stokes’ vivid description of the Battle of New Hope Church in Georgia is in a letter on pages 88ff of Mary’s book.
Margaret Adams Gist papers, courtesy of South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.
“De last time I seen Marse States he wuz on foot, nigh er maple tree, still leading hiz men. (His horse) Joe had been shot through de neck, en wuz rearing en plunging so he had ter dismount. … When it got so hot, I went back ter our tent.
“Dat night, about two o’clock, Mr. Lyles … come ter our camp. He said he wuz mighty cold; he was shot in the forepart ub de night. Den he got so cold he nigh froze, en he crawled out. He sez, ‘Wiley, I’m mighty feared dat General Gist is killed, en de Yankees have got him.’ Sez I, ‘Mr. Lyles, how does you know?’ Sez he, ‘I wuz widdin er foot ub him when he fall.’ ‘Well,’ sez I, ‘I am gwine ter find him.’
“It tuck me er long time ter make my way. De ground wuz piled wid wounded men and wid dead men. Sometimes, I stopped en done what I could. I wuz halted four time. ‘Who goes dar?’ dey wud say. I sez, ‘A friend.’ Dey’d say, ‘Who is you, en whut does yer want?’ I sez, ‘I’m Wiley, en I want Marse States.’ Dey’d say, ‘Whut’s de countersign?’ I sez, ‘Dar ain’t one out tonight.’ Den dey wud say, ‘Pass on.’
“After a while, I got ter de hospital. At de hospital, I find Dr. Wright, er friend ub Marse States. He sez, ‘What does yer want, Wiley?’ I sez, ‘I come ter see about de General.’ Dr. Wright sez, ‘I done all I could, Wiley, but he died at half past eight. … He suffered very much et fust, but towards de end, de pain wuz but little. … Once or twice he sez, ‘Take me ter my wife.’
“Dr. Wright holped me ter get er cedar box. We couldn’t git a coffin. We got er ambulance. I tuck (General Gist) … to Mrs. White’s. … Our hospital was betwixt her graveyard en de creek. … I … went ter de door, en told her General Gist had been killed, en axed her if we could bury him in her graveyard. … She made us drive de ambulance up de walk ter her front door. She had him tuck out en laid on de sofa in her parlor. She sont fur er preacher ter hab de burial service. We buried him in her yard, under er big cedar tree. Some ub de 24th South Carolina, 16th South Carolina, en 46th Georgia holped ter bury him. … All ub der officers wuz dar. That is, all dat wuz left. It wuz er sad time ter dem.”
Editor’s notes: Howard dug up Gist’s body and escorted it to the Gist family plantation, Wyoming, in South Carolina. The general was buried there but was exhumed a second time, in 1866, and the remains reburied in the Trinity Church cemetery in Columbia, S.C. There is some confusion over when Howard removed Gist from his Franklin grave. I had determined that it was done on Dec. 1, the day after the battle, but I have since read that he was removed on Dec. 17, during the Confederate retreat from Nashville.
The location of Gist’s first grave in Franklin also is somewhat cloudy. Most sources put it at the William White home at 724 Fair Street in Franklin, but, see the interview of Ralph Naylor.
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 3, pages 72-73
Editor’s note: The author is identified as “Frances,” but other sources identify her as Frances A. McEwen. See Rosalie Carter interview.
“I was a pupil in the old Franklin Female Institute. … The pupils numbered about 175. … On … the 30th of November, we assembled at school as usual. Our teachers’ faces looked unusually serious that morning. The Federal couriers were dashing hither and thither. The officers were gathering in squads, and the cavalry, with swords and sabres clanking, were driving their spurs into their horses’ flanks and galloping out to first one picket post and then another on the roads leading south and southwest of town. The bell called us in the chapel. We were told to take our books and go home, as there was every indication that we would be in the midst of a battle that day.
“At four o’clock that afternoon I stood in our front door and heard musketry in the neighborhood of … Carter’s (house) on the Columbia pike. …
“My father realizing that we were in range of the guns from both armies told us to run down into the cellar. We hastily threw a change of clothing into a bundle and obeyed at once. My mother, who never knew what fear meant in her life, was a little reluctant to go and leave the upper part of the house to the tender mercies of soldiers, but she finally joined us in the basement. A few minutes later there was a crash! and down came a deluge of dust and gravel. The usually placid face of our old black mammy, now thoroughly frightened, appeared on the scene. She said a cannon ball had torn a hole in the side of the meat house and broken her wash kettle to pieces. She left the supper on the stove and fled … into the cellar. …
“About one o’clock we thought the town was being reduced to ashes, but it turned out to be the burning of the Odd Fellows Hall on the square.
“About four o’clock we heard the tramping of feet and the sound of voices. Our hearts jumped into our mouths and what joy when we learned that our own soldiers were in possession of the town! We first learned it from the men who carried Col. Sam Shannon, who had been wounded, to his sister’s house, our next door neighbor. … We didn’t ‘stand on ceremonies’ getting out of the cellar. Our doors were thrown wide open, and in a few minutes a big fire was burning in the parlor The first man to enter was Gen. William Bate, all bespattered with mud and blackened with powder, … who had been a life-long friend (of my father’s). Next came Gen. Tom Benton Smith. …
“An uncle of ours, who made his home in New York city, during the previous summer had my sisters to visit him, and, of course, they replenished their wardrobes while there. On the morning after the battle they wanted to compliment their soldier friends by ‘looking their best,’ so they put on their prettiest dresses. The soldiers were so unaccustomed to seeing stylish new dresses, that they actually doubted their loyalty, thought they should have on homespun dresses instead of ‘store clothes.’
“In the afternoon, December 1st, some of us went to the battlefield, to give water and wine to the wounded. All of us carried cups from which to refresh the thirsty. … The dead and wounded lined the Columbia pike for the distance of a mile. In Mrs. Sykes’ yard, Gen. Hood sat talking with some of his staff officers. I didn’t look upon him as a hero, because nothing had been accomplished that could benefit us. …
“As we approached Col. Carter’s house, we could scarcely walk without stepping on the dead or dying men. We could hear the cries of the wounded, of which Col. Carter’s house was full to overflowing. As I entered the front door, I heard a poor fellow giving his … comrades a dying message for his loved ones at home. We went through the hall, and were shown into a little room where a soft light revealed all that was mortal of the gifted young genius, Theo Carter, who under the pseudonym of ‘Mint Julep,’ wrote such delightful letters to the ‘Chattanooga Rebel.’ Bending over him, begging for just one word of recognition, was his faithful and heartbroken sister. …
“From this sad scene, we passed on to a locust thicket, and men in ever conceivable position could be seen, some with their fingers on the triggers, and death struck them so suddenly they didn’t move. Past the thicket we saw trenches dug to receive as many as ten bodies. On the left of the pike, around the old gin house, men and horses were lying so thick that we could not walk. Gen. Adams’ horse was lying stark and stiff upon the breastworks.
“Ambulances were being filled with the wounded as fast as possible, and the whole town was turned into a hospital. Instead of saying lessons at school the day after the battle, I watched the wounded men being carried in. Our house was full as could be; from morning until night we made bandages and scraped linen lint with which to dress the wounds, besides making jellies and soups with which to nourish them.”
Editor’s note: Two sources for quotes; one source for background information. He is the father of Frances A. McEwen.
Bright Skies and Dark Shadows, by Henry M. Field; 1890
“General Kimball occupied my house as his headquarters, at which occurred this strange incident.
“About four o’clock, after the General had left for the field, there lingered a Colonel from Indianapolis in my parlor; he was a lawyer, and a nice man; he asked my daughters to sing and play him a piece of music. They hesitated, but I answered for them, ‘Yes.’ My daughter asked what they should play? He replied that he had not been in a parlor since the battle of Oak Hill was fought, and that he did not know one piece of music from another, except field music.
“I then spoke and asked the young ladies to sing and play a piece which had recently come out, ‘Just Before the Battle, Mother,’ telling the Colonel that it was a new piece. At my request, they sat down, and played and sung the piece about half through, when I stepped to the door, and a shell exploded within fifty yards. I immediately returned and said, ‘Colonel, if I am any judge, it is just about that time now!’
“He sprang immediately to his feet, and ran in the direction of his regiment, but before he reached it, or by that time, he was shot through the lungs, the bullet passing quite through him.
“He was taken back to the rear, and on to Nashville. Eighteen days after, I received a message from him through an officer, stating the fact of his being shot, and that the piece of music the young ladies were executing was still ringing in his ears, and had been every moment that his eyes were open since he left my parlor the evening of the battle.
“In April, … after the war was over, he had sufficiently recovered to travel, when he came to Franklin, as he stated, expressly to get the young ladies to finish the piece of music and relieve his ears. His wife and more than a dozen officers accompanied him. He found the ladies, and they sang and played the piece through for him in presence of all the officers; and they wept like children.”
“Quoted from a scrapbook clipping of Mrs. Alicia McEwen German.”
Reprinted in “Legends of Franklin, Tennessee,” master of arts degree thesis by Nancy Amelia Greer, submitted in June 1930, Department of English, George Peabody College for Teachers.
“On the day after the battle, my house was filled with Confederate wounded – Alabamians, Tennesseans, and Georgians. Among them was a young officer, Adjutant Stout of the Seventh Alabama Regiment. … He was very badly wounded, being shot through the lungs. His surgeon, Dr. Watrous, told me that before this he had been shot all over, and that he was as brave a boy as ever lived. In the room at my house in which he lay, were there other wounded men – Captain Verdery of Georgia, another man from Georgia, and a young man from Robertson County, Tennessee, the last of whom died on the second day. My wife was sitting by his side, while I was sitting by the side of the Adjutant, whose face was turned so that he saw the other when he breathed his last.
“My wife beckoned to me to take one end of the lounge on which he lay, while she took the other, and we carried him out of the room, when she expressed her fear for the young adjutant, seeing how he was depressed by the sight, that he too could live but a very short time, probably not more than half an hour. ‘Oh, no!’ I said, and instantly sent one of our little daughters across the street to the hospital for the surgeon of the division.
“He came quickly, and took a seat on the other side of the lounge from me, and made a careful examination; and then, taking a long breath, as if he feared to give the fatal news, he said, ‘Adjutant, I am sorry to tell you, if you have any messages to send to your mother or sisters, you had better have them prepared, as I do not think you can last but a little while.’ At this I exclaimed loudly, and said, ‘Adjutant, … what shall I say to your mother and sisters about you being shot in the back?’
“At this the life seemed to spring up in him like a rocket. … The truth was that all the officers above him had been cut down, and he had to take command, and was leading his men towards the fatal breastworks, and probably at the moment of turning on his horse to call them on, when the ball struck him in the back, passing through him. The possibility that this might be so told as to reflect upon his courage … made him determined that he would not die; and from that instant he began to get better, and was so far recovered that when two weeks later Hood passed through Franklin on his retreat, he was able to take the ambulance for his home in South Alabama.
“When I heard from him again, the youthful soldier had become a preacher, and is now the Rev. Dr. Stout, an eminent Baptist divine in Southwestern Georgia.”
Notes about the McEwen home from an article by James Crutchfield published in The Tennessean, Williamson: Community News; page 6F; January 23, 1997:
John B. McEwen home is at 612 Fair Street The brick home dates from 1830s; it was built by Carey Allen Harris . Harris died in 1842. McEwen bought the house shortly after Harris’ death, McEwen made substantial changes to the house. McEwen was a lawyer and land speculator.
Tennessee State Library and Archives, MS Ac No 1765
“I was a little girl eight years old. … How frightened I was when they told us children to keep in the house for the Yankees were coming; then I was told the Rebels were coming to drive the Yankees out of town, and how relieved we children were. All of grandpa’s (nine) grandchildren were with him. … We were all under twelve years old. … We were all good for once, for we were afraid of the very name of Yankee.
“The first I can remember was grandpa and the negroes digging a big hole out in the middle of the North cellar floor. There was three rooms down in the cellar. The south room we used for our dining room, the hall cellar and the North cellar we used for a store room. They brought all the meat from the smokehouse, potatoes, lard and big sacks of ground meal, and everything else to eat they could pack into that hole, then built a plank floor over it and laid the bricks all back and set a big table over it, and I was told it was done to keep the Yankees from getting it. …
“As evening came on the neighbors began to come in … and all the neighbors began to go down in the cellar. Grandpa had already put rolls of rope in the windows … to keep the bullets out. The negroes crouched down in the dining room, and all the children and grandchildren and neighbors in the hall cellar, and grandpa walked back and forth and watch(ed) out the window. To the North he could see the Yankee soldiers all around the house. …
“The first sound of the firing and booming of the cannons, we children all sat around our mother and cried, and every charge they made we could hear the Yankees running into the house and up the steps. We expected every minute for the house to catch fire. The Yankees ran down the cellar steps and hid and tried to get into the cellar, and I remember the only way we had to fasten the door was to put a plank under it. Grandpa talked pretty rough to them.
“When we came out of the middle cellar there were two Yankees hid in the big fire place, several behind a tool box and press in the first room of the cellar, and they were all on the steps. Grandpa had to push them out so we could come up the steps. … The house was full of soldiers. The parlor carpet was wet with blood. Most of the wounded had been taken away, and the whole house was open and the soldiers coming and going all over the house. I can remember seeing a lot of soldiers in Yankee uniform coming down the stairs with a Confederate officer. He had captured them in the up stairs room over the parlor. … They … hid in the house during the battle.
“Since the war there has been two Yankee soldiers here. (One) told me he played cards with another soldier behind the chimney in the room over the family room during the battle. The other one showed me where he burst the panel out of the family room door to get in, and the panel is there to show for its self today.
“Just before day I was standing out on the back porch, when Gen. Benton Smith rode up on his horse. … He saluted and said, ‘Missie is this where Squire Carter lives?’ And I told him yes, and he said, ‘Tell him Captain Carter is severely wounded on the battlefield and I will show him about where to find him.’ Aunt Sallie and grandpa went ahead with him. Aunt Fannie and Aunt Sallie McKinney followed with lanterns. My mother kept the children. She and Lena Carter fixed the bed in the family room and straightened it up as best they could, so they would have a place to put him.
“I can never forget seeing two men bringing him in the back way, between the smoke house and the … office that stood by the smoke house, with a walk and gate between that led into the garden.
“They had found him about 150 yards southwest of the smoke house, lying face down … shot nine times, (in) both arms and legs and a ball over his left eye. He was unconscious when they brought him in and laid him down on Aunt Annie’s lounge. I can see his limp legs and arms now, with his captain’s uniform and cavalry boots and spurs. He had a black hat with a black plume in it. Dr. Deering Roberts cut the ball from over his eye and dressed his other wounds. Lena Carter held the only lamp we could find for Dr. Roberts to work by.
“He was conscious the next day and lived forty eight hours, and he knew some ladies who called to see him, and told them, ‘I know you all, but can’t talk to you.’ They were Misses Alice (Frances) … and Nonine McEwen and Mary Walker.
“I remember when day came the awful sight I saw. Men dead lying in the yard. One was sitting straight up dead against a sweet apple tree in the side yard. Another dead to the left of the front door. We children went with grandpa. … (We) had to step over the dead and such an awful odor of blood and gunpowder, the whole sight made me sick, and I flew back to my mother. …
“I remember going with Aunt Sallie over to Mrs. Sykes … , and we saw a man sitting in a chair in the yard. He looked so sad, and grandpa told me that was Gen. Hood. …
“Uncle Tod (Carter lay) … in the parlor in the last casket that could be gotten in Franklin, with a bandage across his head. They had a simple service at home and carried him off and buried him on Sunday … in Rest Haven Cemetery.”
Tennessee State Library and Archives, MS Ac No 1422
“About two o’clock in the morning it was thought the Federals were leaving, as firing had ceased, and our family who had spent the night for safety in the home of Peter Crouch just across the street from our home, known as the Old Ratliff place, decided to go home. After reaching home my mother, Mrs. Emma Toone, had put my sister and me to bed, when in just a short time firing again was heard and a shell came whizzing through the wall close to the chimney, knocking the mantel down, putting out the lights, and then falling right into the bed with us. …
“It did not explode, as it fell on the feather bed, but … it scared us to death. A cousin of ours, Miss Tenny Barham, grabbed me out of the bed and ran out the backdoor to the street, then again over to the Crouch home for safety in the basement. My mother had my sister followed by the rest of the family, including two little ‘Pickaninnies’ whose parents had deserted them, and Mrs. Dick Gault, whose husband was in the battle. She had her three children and joined us. …
“We remained in the Crouch basement until daylight; then my father, who had just returned from Atlanta, took his family back home, picked up (from the bed) the shell, which was still warm, and followed by the children – although … (we) were warned to go back – he buried the shell in the cow lot.”
The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.), Dec. 13, 1904
“Columbia (south of Franklin) was soon filled with wounded. Few sadder or more notable events ever occurred here than the funerals of the officers … (including) Generals Cleburne, Gist, Strahl, Adams and Granbury. … All these bodies had been brought to Columbia the second day after the battle, and with Lieutenant John Marsh, of Strahl’s staff (and possibly others) were laid out in the residence of Mrs. Dr. Polk on West Mark street, now the Elk’s Home.
“Chaplain Charles Todd Quintard there held the impressive service of the dead of the Episcopal church, his emotions overcoming him when performing these sad offices, for his devoted friend, John Marsh. …
“Immediately afterwards, the minister in his robes, with a faithful few of the congregation and many others, went on further up the street to the Dr. Johnson house … where a similar service for the dead was held over other officers killed on that same fatal field. Of course there were scores of other funerals from other quarters of town.
“Then the hurried burial at Rose Hill Cemetery, where by some mistake, these brave men were interred in the pauper section … , and some of them in pauper coffins, for so great had been the demand that suitable caskets could not be had for all. But this was only for a few days, for when the chivalrous Lucius Polk heard of it, he offered St. John’s graveyard at Ashwood for their remains. … So their bodies were removed to that peaceful ‘God’s Acre,’ where they remained until other States in after years claimed their hallowed dust.”
Notes from a phone conversation about Smith and his diaries, Sept. 5, 1991, with author, editor, researcher and official Maury County (Tennessee) historian Jill Garrett, who said:
“He was an eyewitness to things that went on here (in Columbia).”
“He was 14 or 15” at the time of the Battle of Franklin.
Smith had two brothers in the Confederate army.
Smith and boyhood friends were eyewitnesses to the Forrest-Gould fight in Columbia.
Smith’s father ran the Athenaeum in Columbia.
Confederate and Federal generals stayed at the Athenaeum as Columbia changed hands.
Smith kept diaries, which were published by the Maury County Historical Society.
“Just about everything he wrote we treat as gospel.”
Jill knew a woman who worked for Smith. The woman told her Smith was a mean, ill-tempered man.
One Hundred Battles in the West. St. Louis to Atlanta, 1861-1865. The Second Michigan Cavalry, by Capt. Marshall P. Thatcher, Co. B.; 1884
Editor’s note: Carrie is identified by Thatcher as “the young wife of a railroad engineer.” At the time his book was published, she lived in Indianapolis.
“I had been sitting on the back porch playing at backgammon with Mrs. Rainey, as was our custom after dinner. A few shots from the infantry had been heard; then, as it became quiet, I began to think there would be no fight after all. … I began to fear there would be no fight. I wanted to see a battle, or hear one; but I got enough of it, sooner than I expected. We kept playing backgammon until about three o’clock, then the firing began to get thicker and sounded … like a snapping roar. … We got up and walked about the house and yard; bullets occasionally whistled over our heads. We did not fear them much if we had the brick house between us, but presently a cannon ball or shell came screeching over the house from the Confederate side. I think I grew short quicker than anything you ever saw. Oh – my! but I just thought I was hit for sure. … I got down low and wasn’t long in following the old folks into the cellar. Then the noise began in dead earnest. I hadn’t seen anything, but I had heard more than I wanted to. I wanted them to quit right off, but they wouldn’t; they just kept up a roar, and rumble, and screeching that fairly stopped my heart from beating.
“We thought, down there in that cellar, that a shell would come through those walls, explode inside of the house and blow us all into ‘Kingdom come,’ the next minute. Just think of us three women and one old man curled up on that coal bin, in that dark cellar, from four o’clock in the afternoon until four o’clock in the morning – no light, no fire, no sleep, and the old lady bewailing the fact that we had not caught up some bedding and brought (them) down with us. She … wanted us to go upstairs and get them. … (them)
“There had been rumors among the special friends of the Confederates that if the Federals fell back they had said they would burn Franklin. There was a young lady of our party whose friends were in the Southern army and she had given this report circulation. Suddenly a bright light turned darkness into day and her fears were apparently about to be realized. ‘Fire!’ she screamed. ‘There, what did I tell you? Now we’ve escaped the battle to be burned alive in this horrid old cellar. Oh, my God, what will become of us!’
“It seems the Federal army … had set fire to the government stables, in which there was nothing left but a few tons of hay and some worthless saddles, harness, etc. That was the only building destroyed, unless by accident, or if in the way.
“Then the firing had entirely ceased and steps were heard over head, and Mr. R., lifting the trap door, calls out, ‘Who’s there – friends?’ We went up out of our dismal prison, with limbs cramped, and fairly shaking, as in fact we had been all night, and Confederate soldiers told us they ‘had the town, and the Yanks are gone.’ So we began to move about more freely, but what do you suppose were my feelings as I thought I was among the enemy, cut off; did not know where my husband was nor how long I must remain where I felt that I must keep my mouth shut and no sympathizing ear to pour my troubles into? …
“In the morning we went out upon the battle field. … God forgive me for ever wishing to see or hear a battle. … You had to look twice as you picked your way among the bodies to see which were dead and which were alive and often a dead man would be lying partly on a live one, or the reverse – and the groans; the sickening smell of blood!
“That sight and the sounds I then heard were with me in my dreams for months, startling me with their horrid nightmare visions.
“I noticed while wandering along the earthworks that all or nearly all of the Union soldiers were shot in the foreheads, and I think any general that would order men to march across such an open field to drive men, protected by such an earthwork as that, must have been a heartless wretch. They came up in the very worst place they could have come, for them – the Confederates – and ought to have known what the result would have been.”
Commenting of the Union breastworks:
“In front the ground was covered with bodies, and pools of blood that it was no fiction to call ‘fields of gore.’ The cotton in the old cotton gin was shot out all over the ground and looked as if it had been scattered there by some designing hand, and the small grove of locusts to the right of the Carter’s creek pike was cut off by bullets as clean as if cut by a knife. …
“Our soldiers had all been stripped of everything but their shirts and drawers; but the Confederate soldiers could not be blamed much for that, for they were half clothed, half barefoot and many of them bareheaded; but I saw one thing I thought contemptible. A fine looking Union soldier had been stripped of all but his shirt and drawers. He was lying off by himself at the roadside near the depot. He was apparently an officer. His shirt was fine flannel. ‘H’yar,’ says a big Confederate, calling to some of his men – ‘h’yar’s a mighty fine shut on this ere dead Yank,’ – giving him a kick. I thought it was bad enough to strip him of hat, coat, pants, boots and socks; they might at least give him a single garment to bury him in.
“When I went past one of their hospitals there were several wagon loads of limbs in a pile that had been amputated.
“It was several days before they knew I was a northern woman, but when they did they seemed to respect my helpless condition and treated me kindly. … One of the men, a nurse and cook for the wounded – a Mr. Hicks, from Mississippi. He had no confidence in Hood’s forward movement, and tried to comfort me as we walked among the flowers, and talked in whispered words. ‘Be comforted,’ said he; ‘it is only for a few days, and you will be among your friends again. This cannot last.’ And sure enough, sooner than I thought, the fierce cannonading eighteen miles away, at Nashville, told me that something would happen soon. I overheard an officer say, ‘We are going to cut the bridge.’ Then I knew that the Confederates were falling back.
“And there they came. Barefoot; bareheaded; half of them without guns; running and scattering shots were heard. I jumped to my feet and went out. I could stand it no longer. Among the first men to enter town were some railroad men that I knew and I rushed out and caught them in my arms. I was a prisoner no longer.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 12, page 30
“George Blaine, of the Seventh Texas Regiment … on the eve of the battle … told his negro servant that he had a cousin, the wife of Dr. Aaron C. White, living at Spring Hill, twelve miles from Franklin. He wished to be taken to their home if killed or wounded in the battle. He fell … , and the … servant took him to Spring Hill.
“(I) … was one of the three small children of the home. … There were no military honors, no minister to conduct a religious service, and no crowd to follow him to his last resting place. Only three little children looked on in awed silence while their father helped the faithful servant lower the body into the grave and fill in the earth, but the frame of the latter shook with sobs and tears rained down his face as he bent to the task. …
“That day … the churches were turned into temporary hospitals filled with wounded and dying soldiers, and all were too busy ministering to those yet living to do honor to the dead.
“ ‘Uncle Nick’ was sent on his way with his master’s horse and watch, a lock of hair, etc., and later (Blaine’) sister wrote from Texas that he had reached her safely with these last tokens. She spoke of having her brother’s body removed as soon as days of peace came, but she too died, and he was left. … Almost forty (years passed) when the postmaster at Spring Hill received a letter inquiring for Dr. White or some member of his family. It was from ‘Uncle Nick’ Blaine, … asking about the grave of his master. He wrote after receiving the desired information and sent some pressed cedar to be laid on ‘master’ grave.’ … A wild cherry sprang up near the spot and grew into a tree.’ ”
From a May 14, 1988, letter to me from author and former official Maury County historian Jill Garrett:
“We finally got George Blaine’s grave marked in the S.H. (Spring Hill) cemetery about 15 years ago. He is in the White/Cheairs lot. Martha Cheairs told us where it was.”