Copy of Franklin researcher Tim Burgess’ transcription of a letter dated January 22, 1865, written near Verona Station, Mobile & Ohio Railroad. The letter in the possession of Stanley M. Cichowicz, a fourth-generation descendant of Col. Nelson.
Editor’s notes: Ailes was a musician. This letter is to the widow of Col. Noel Nelson of the 12th Louisiana. See letter by Maj. Henry Van McCain.
“He was brought from the field about midnight and died shortly after. I did not get to see him before he died, as I was over at another field infirmary and did not see him the next morning until daylight when I went over to see him not knowing he was dead until I got there and found him dead and he was the most natural corpse I ever beheld he looked as thought (sic) he was merely asleep. So the first thing that I thought of was that he should be nicely put away in his grave. So I asked *Dr. Field for a pass to go to Franklin and procure him a good coffin which was two miles from the hospital, and so I got Mr. **Hedgepeth a member of our Band and we went to Town in search of (a) coffin.
“There were two under-taker shops in town but one of the Yankees burnt down as he was secesh I suppose & I went to the other and made inquiry if I could get a coffin and was told by the proprietor that he had none but 3 which I saw in the shop and they were plain ones just finished and he asked me if I had applied to the other shop and I told him that it was burnt down but he then remarked that the owner had saved some and to go there and I could got one and so me and Hedgepeth went to the other shop and I made inquiry and the gentleman told me that he had some but they were all too small but told me to go upstairs and satisfy myself and so I went and found all too small and then he remarked to me that if I would go to the other shop I could get one he thought but I told him that I had just come from there and he told me he had only 3 and they were spoken for, and he said the man had told me a lie for said he I was up stairs at his shop only a few days previous and he had over a hundred and so when he told me that I was quite enraged and was determined to go and get one so just at that time I saw an old acquaintance from Florida who was in the same business as myself and so he joined us and we went to the shop and asked again if we could get any coffins and the man of the show having went out when I got back we asked the negroe boy who was working in the shop and the boy said he had none and we told him we did not want him to lie for we knew there was coffins and he then said there was some upstairs but that they were fine cedar coffins. We told him that was just the kind we wanted and so the old man who was out had the key that unlocked the door which led up stairs, and so we took an axe and forced the door open and went up stairs and there was a large room just full of coffins all painted and nicely varnished so we just took one and myself and Hedgetpeth carried it on our shoulders to Mr. McGavock’s when (sic) the corps was and we procured a nice white sheet and buried him nicely just as nice as he could have been buried anywhere. Should you wish to move his remains ever the coffin will be good and sound for it is cedar and will outlast any other kind of wood. Hoping this may tend to give you satisfaction as to his burial I will close from any further remarks, though I still mourn the loss of him yet and shall never forget him as long as I live. Our whole Band deeply sympathies (sic) with you. Well if there is any other information that you wish to know and I am in possession of I will take pleasure in giving you information well I will now close hoping this may find you well and in good health. I am respectfully your obt. Servt. and friend Thomas P Ailes Leader 12th La Brass Band Scotts Brigade Loring’s Division Army of Tennessee”
Notes from Battle of Franklin researcher Tim Burgess:
* William B. Field was assistant Surgeon for the 12th Louisiana;
** William H. Hedgepeth was a musician in the 12th Louisiana.
The Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, by Robert W. Banks; 1908
“(I) was near the extreme right of the regiment, which was moving at a double quick. The firing was increasing. … General Charles M. Shelley, the brigade commander, … who was riding a short distance to the right of the regiment, discovered some confusion in the regimental line. Spurring his horse toward the Twenty-ninth Alabama, he rode in speaking distance … and said, ‘Banks, where are your colors? Your men are wavering!’ Captain Alfred V. Gardner, senior captain present, was in command of the Twenty-ninth. He … was opposite the center of the regiment and leading it. Only a few days before he had returned to duty from a sick leave, and was still weak, and easily fatigued. …
“(I) ran from the right of the regiment obliquely down the line until (I) came across Captain Gardner. Before gaining the side of Captain Gardner, he shouted out, ‘Bring forward the colors! Bring the colors to the front!’ The color-bearer promptly lengthened his stride. Captain Gardner, looking back to see what the matter was, shortened his step until the colors were brought forward, when he quickly reached out, took possession of them, and quickened his pace. By this time … (I) was at Captain Gardner’s side, … a few paces in advance of the charging line. The men were advancing … , although not preserving anything like a dress-parade alignment. …
“Keeping to the right, and almost in touch of him, … (I) soon discovered that the strength of Captain Gardner was well-nigh spent. The command was at a considerable distance from the enemy’s interior works. … Seeing Gardner’s exhaustion, (I) seized the flag-staff, saying, ‘Give me the colors! I can get there, Captain, quicker than you!’ Gardner … relinquished the colors. … (I) quickly shot ahead, closely followed by a number of officers and men.
“The convergent fire … became terrific, and there was little order in the charging line. … (My) direction … carried (me) … to the pike, at a point southwardly from the gin-house, which was near the pike and near the enemy’s interior fortified line. Striking the pike then, and finding the traveling along it so much better than the rough ground …, (I) stuck to it until … (I) passed through, and beyond the abatis, which did not obstruct the pike. … (I) then left the pike, going left obliquely to the ditch which was between the abatis and the earthworks. This point was the salient in the enemy’s line, and here had been erected a sort of bastion as though intended for artillery, and the moat or a ditch, around the outer side of it, while not deep was wide. When … (I) reached the ditch … found a few men already entering it. These and those that came with and after … (me) filled it. The men who got into the ditch … belonged to various regiments of different brigades and divisions.
“Working … (my) way through the crouching men to the edge of the escarpment, and finding that no one could go to the top of the parapet, much less go over it, and escape instant death, even if the men had been fresh instead of being, as they were, exhausted by the great distance over which they had just raced … (I) stood upon the escarpment and planted the colors, the staff of which was shod with a steel point, as high upon the embankment as … (I) could reach to strike the point in the earth, and then stooped, as closely to the earth as possible, for protection. The flag at once became a target upon which the enemy’s fire concentrated. It was kept flying from a little after five o’clock until after nine o’clock that night. During that time, there being only the scarp and parapet between the Union forces and the Confederates, the firing was practically incessant – the din and uproar frightful. …
“Some of those behind the breastworks held their guns overhead, with muzzles pointing downward across the parapet, and thus fired … upon (us) … with the least exposure to themselves. This particular point was enfiladed with fearful effect. So thick were the dead and wounded in the ditch there, it became a sort of out-door ‘chamber of horrors.’
“When night came down, the groans and frenzied cries of wounded on both sides of the earthworks were awe-inspiring. The ravings of the maimed and mangled … were heart-rending. Crazed by pain, many knew not what they did or said. Some pleadingly cried out, ‘Cease firing! Cease firing!’ while others agonizingly were shouting ‘We surrender! We surrender!’ …
“When the colors of the Twenty-ninth Alabama were planted on the enemy’s fortified line, the Confederates were huddled in the ditch like sheep in a shambles. They had not been there long before men were being killed and wounded in more rapid succession than … (I) ever saw before or since. They were crowded as closely as it was possible for them to be and were practically helpless. To go over the works was certain death, or wounds or capture. To run to the rear, aside from the shame of it, was almost of equal hazard. To remain was to accept the most fearful odds imaginable in favor of death. … The situation for four agonizing hours was appalling.
“We had not been there five minutes when a fair-faced, blue-eyed, beardless youth, apparently about seventeen, was severely wounded in the neck. He evidently had not been long in the service, for he had a knapsack which could not have seen much usage. None of us knew his name or regiment. When the ball struck him he cried out, ‘Oh, I am wounded!’ and his head fell backward against the man in his rear. We tried to do something for him. No bandage or rag could be had. In a little while, gasping, the poor boy began to struggle with his arms and legs, but the crowd was so dense there was small room for movement. … Man after man was either killed or wounded. … Nothing could be done for him or them. And so he was permitted to continue his struggles – his fight for life – until he had nearly worked himself into a reclining position. In the meantime, as the carnage grew, … those in greatest danger began to think only of themselves. Before death came to their unfortunate comrade, men were sitting or kneeling upon his prostrate body … while his life-blood oozed away. …
“Along toward nine o’clock the firing began to slacken. Away off to the enemy’s left it would begin, and could be heard coming along down the line, with brief intermissions, growing gradually louder as it approached and passed, and then ending away in the distance, as it receded. It was irregular, unmethodical, inconstant. …
“Noting that, … (I) determined about nine o’clock … to make a break, … there being with … (me) at that time, so far as … (I) could see or judge, few but the dead and wounded. During a lull, after the firing had become desultory, … (I) arose. … When disengaging the staff from its hold in the earth, it broke off, about two-thirds of its length up, and the banner fell. … Pulling the lower piece out of the ground and attempting to furl the flag, … (I) found the staff broken in another place. … (I) rolled the pieces in the folds of the banner and withdrew.
“In making (my) way from the escarpment to the outer edge of the ditch … (my) feet did not once touch the ground. At every step … (my) feet rested upon a man, so thick were the killed and wounded in the ditch. Out of the ditch, making … (my) way straight from the works to the rear, … (I) directly encountered the abatis, but it interposed little obstruction, as … (I) was going through it … in the direction the limbs grew. Emerging from the abatis, … (I) stepped upon, and over, a dead horse lying almost at the brush. About it were many victims of the fight.
“When the firing was brisk … I would lie flat upon the ground; during the lulls … (I) would break into a run. … Presently … (I) saw a small camp-fire in a slight depression near the pike. … Several persons were about it. … (I) hailed to inquire, ‘Can you tell me where I will find Walthall’s division?’ A voice, which … (I) recognized as that of Captain Sam Abernethy, of the Twenty-ninth Alabama, answered, ‘Yes! Here is General Walthall.’ … (I) advanced to the fire, and was rejoiced to find General Walthall of Mississippi, General Reynolds of Arkansas, Captain George M. Govan of Mississippi, inspector on Walthall’s staff, and Captain Sam Abernethy, with each of whom … (I) was personally acquainted. Dropping … (the) colors at General Walthall’s feet, … (I) said, ‘General, here’s yer colors!’ The General … expressed pleasure and surprise at … (my) escape, General Shelley having told him, so he said, that he thought ‘Banks had been killed.’ …
“The next day, December 1, … (I) was assigned to duty as an aide-de-camp on General Walthall’s staff.
“On examining the colors the morning after the battle, it was found that the staff had been hit in five separate places, and was brought off the field in three pieces. The banner itself was so badly riddled it really was in tatters. Indeed, the flag was so shot up it was literally ‘put out of business,’ and rendered unfit for further service except as a relic. …
“The color-bearer, from whom Captain Gardner received it during the charge, was seriously wounded in the battle, and so was Captain Gardner, who was, also, captured. … (I) had a hole shot through (my) coat and one through (my) hat, but escaped without a scratch. …
“Of all the awesome sights of war, nothing better calculated to affright and demoralize an army could have been devised than the exhibition of the dead, as they appeared to those who viewed them there in marching by the gin-house that morning. Why any considerable portion of the army … should have been permitted to witness that sickening, blood-curdling, fear-kindling sight is difficult to understand, when it might so easily have been avoided by a slight detour in the line of march. … The hell of war was depicted cruelly in the ghastly upturned faces of the dead. … Nothing like it was ever before witnessed. God grant that nothing like it may ever be witnessed again!
From Franklin researcher Tim Burgess’ files, Battle Scenes folder
“We got to the works and were fighting right across them, but were not able to take them. My captain surrendered and went over to them, but the firing still kept on. I got to a position so close to the works that the bullets could not reach in to me, and I lay flat on my back, shooting with my gun resting on the toe of my boot, through a hole where the logs were not joined together well. When I would see the hole darken I would shoot, but do not know whether I killed any one or not. I lay in this position about three hours, when the firing ceased, and some of the Yankees came across to search our dead. I saw a big Yankee coming towards me with a light in one hand and a pistol in the other. At first I planned to just be dead and let him search me, but I changed my mind, and as he came close to me, I threw up my gun and told him to surrender. He said he didn’t want to be captured. I said, ‘I don’t, either. Move out!’ So he moved out and I marched him to the rear. The Yankees were very close, just across the works, while this was taking place, but were in such confusion, talking, cursing, etc., that they could not hear us talking. It was night, also, and they could not see us move off. …
“I counted 43 dead Yankees lying on the porch of the Cotter House that morning.
“The next day we continued our march to Nashville. We found several wounded men of both sides on our way that the enemy had left on the roadside, and we took them up and carried them with us.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol.18, page 426
“We were the second line. Our first line had captured the first line of the Federal works. … I think they were about one hundred yards apart. Our orders were not to stop at the first work, but to cross over the second line. … I could not see their works until within a few yards of them, the smoke was so dense. When I reached the ditch, it was filled with dead and wounded Confederates. I walked over on dead men. There were five or six of us near our colors, but all fell in the ditch but myself. Our colors were just over the works. I ran up on the works at the corner of the old ginhouse. I threw my gun down on the works. … Just then I was jerked over the works (and made prisoner).”
Franklin researcher Tim Burgess note and Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, by Mamie Yeary; 1912 (page 53)
“(Lt. McDonough) was killed in the charge at Franklin and fell on the breastworks.
“I saw a Yankee who was shot through. I only weighed 100 to 120 pounds, and he said, ‘little fellow shoot me.’ I told him I would not, and he said he was bound to die and wanted to get out of his misery. ‘I will give you everything I have. It will not be any sin.’ I told him I never would, and left him.”
Editor’s note: Bell identifies the slain officer as Capt. McDonald, but Tim crossed that out and wrote in Lt. McDonough.
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 12, page 454
“Maj. Garrett, who was commanding the Twenty-third Mississippi, … had halted his men at a rock fence about two hundred yards from the enemy’s works. There were two osage orange hedges in front of us through which Gen. Adams could not ride, making it necessary for him to ride around the ends. He passed directly in front of us, … and … called out the order, ‘Move forward, Maj. Garrett,’ and it was not more than three minutes after this that he was shot.”
Editor’s note: Boswell’s obituary is in Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 26, page 490
Review Appeal, Feb. 24, 1972, “Reminiscences of Byron Bowers”
Editor’s note: Bowers’ battery was “parked close to the turn-pike road, something like a mile from Franklin.”
“From what I had heard … the slaughter was great and at dawn of day I hit the pike road to go and see for myself. I had gone but a few hundred yards when I came to a dead Federal picket. He was a little round-faced boy, shot in the thigh and bled to death. … He had corded his thigh with his own suspender. As I went on up the pike the dead pickets lay thicker. … I (walked) … on to within about fifty or one hundred yards of the works. … I never had seen Confederate carnage so thick. … Standing at the gap in the breast works, where the turn-pike road passed through, I think there must have been two thousand dead Confederates in sight.
“The dead, cold and stiff bodies were laying in every conceivable posture, all with ghastly faces and glassy eyes. Some lay with faces up and some with faces down. Some in a sitting attitude, braced with the dead bodies of their comrades. Some lay with two or three bodies on them. Sometimes you could see a company commander lying with sword in one hand and hat in the other. Sometimes you could see a man who had a heavy martial frown; then again you could see others who wore a pleasing smile. … At the gap in the works where the pike road went through … were lying a Confederate and a Federal soldier, both with bayonets sent through their bodies. It was plain to see that they were each other’s victims; they both had hands on their guns.
“Close by a Georgia colonel and a Federal major lay, their positions indicating that they had slain each other with pistols. Close to the gap lay Gen. Cleburne’s horse. I knew the general had been killed and I recognized his horse. The general’s body had been taken out the night before. Capt. Suggs, of Cleburne’s staff, had made his horse jump the ditch and climb on to the top of the works, where he was hanging next morning, shot into a pulp. Sugggs was also killed and taken out the night before. When I passed through the gap and looked down (the pike) … another scene of carnage came to view. … Streets, gutters, sideway, doorstones, and porticoes were covered with dead men in blue.
“After I had walked down the street a short distance, I turned around and went back to the breastworks, where I saw Gen. Hood and part of his staff coming up the pike road on horseback. … Gen. Hood stopped close to where I was standing and took a long … view of the arena of the awful contest. … His sturdy visage assumed a melancholy appearance, and for a considerable time he sat on his horse and wept like a child. …
“The most heart-rending scenes … were citizens of Franklin and the surrounding country. They appeared on the battlefield about sun-up. Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters looking for fathers, husbands, sons, brothers and friends. A large part of Hood’s army was from Tennessee, some from Franklin and many from the vicinity of Franklin. … While the General was weeping the … cries … and wailing were heard from little groups all over the field. … Frail women clasping their hands above the mangled bodies … ; and little children frantic with fear and grief.”
Editor’s note: Two sources
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 19, page 271
“General Cockrell … in clear ringing tones gave the final commands: ‘Shoulder arms! Right shoulder shift arms! Brigade forward! Guide center! Music! Quick time! March!’ And this array of hardened veterans … moved forward to our last and bloodiest charge. … Our brigade had one of the best brass bands in the army. It went up with us, starting off with ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag,’ changing to ‘Dixie’ as we reached the deadly point.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 24, pages 102-103
“General Cockrell gave orders to march straight for the position in quick time and not to fire a shot until we gained the top of the works. …
“Advancing in echelon, stair step, our long, swinging step soon brought us abreast of Cleburne’s Division, just to the right of the … Pike. …
“Our colonel, Garland, of St. Louis … (fell) soon after we started, and as senior captain the command of the regiment devolved upon me. As we crossed the rifle pits our line was delayed a moment, when, finding myself alone, I cried out: ‘Who is going to stay with me?’ Lieut. A.B. Barnett, Dick Saulsbery, Robert Bonner and Denny Callahan dashed up, flag in hand, and we led the regiment. … On and on we went right up to the murderous parapet, delivered one smashing volley as General Cockrell had directed, and the line rolled over the works with empty guns, the bayonet now their only trust. I should have said what was left of the line, for the ground in the rear was all too thickly covered with the bodies of our comrades. …
“Our flag fell three times. Joseph T. Donavan, ensign, of St. Louis, was the first to fall, badly hurt by a shell fragment. Two other members of the regiment, John S. Harris and Robert Bently, were killed a few moments later while carrying it. Sgt. Denny Callahan was the last bearer, and this brave Irish boy carried it successfully to the works, where he planted it, and was wounded and captured, the flag falling into the hands of the Federals when we were forced from the position. …
“I made a stroke at a bluecoat, felt my leg give way, and fell on top of the works. He was too quick for me, my sword flying from my hand. In another second our men were on top of the parapet. The enemy’s fire ceased abruptly, and I crawled forward and picked up my sword; then, finding that I could walk a little, I started back to hunt for a surgeon; but my wound was too severe, and I fell. Two slightly wounded men of the 5th Missouri assisted me off the field.”
War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. XLV, Part 1, pages 734-735
“Gen. Gist ordered the charge in concert with Gen. Gordon. In passing from left to the right of the regiment, the general waved his hat to us … and rode away in the smoke of battle.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 34, page 301
“Captain Patterson … informed me that he was commanding the regiments, and asked me if there were any commissioned officers left in my company. I said no. … He asked if there were any noncommissioned officers in my company. I again replied no. He then said, ‘You take charge of the company,’ and added, ‘How many have you left of your company?’ I replied there were only eight of us present for duty. We went into battle with thirty-seven and came out with eight.
“I was then told to go down to the breastworks with my company, and lay out our dead together, and take the dead soldiers of the enemy to the breastworks, cover them with blankets, if any could be found, and throw enough dirt over all to prevent nauseating odors to reach the citizens living near by. I was further commanded by Captain Patterson to gather up the guns and stack them and hang the cartridge boxes to the several stacks of guns.
“I went down with my remnant company and we went to work.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 31, page 18
“Our brigade was ordered forward (against) … the Yankees at a ginhouse with strong breastworks, well built of head logs and with portholes.
“Our men … (charged), led by Colonel Gates and Major Parker, right up to the breastworks. Colonel Gates was on his horse riding up and down the line and cheering his men on when he was shot in one arm, and in a few minutes he was shot in the other arm. As he was unable to guide his horse, being his adjutant, I … led his horse off the field … and helped Colonel Gates dismount. … I … went for an ambulance.
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 33, page 180
Re death of Capt. Tod Carter, whose home was the Carter House:
“His wounds had rendered him delirious, but when found he was calling my name and continued to call it at times until he died. He and I were fast friends, and only a few moments before he was shot down I had spoken to him and told him not to start the men forward too soon; but his own reckless daring caused his death. His horse, a powerful gray, lay dead but a short distance from him.”
Sketch of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, with Reminiscences of Camp Douglas, by Copley; 1893
Notes: Copley was from Dickson County, Tenn. He joined Co. B, 49th Tennessee when he was 15.
“We pressed the rear of Schofield’s army in hot pursuit; … every now and then the road would be almost blockaded with horses and mules which had been sabred, wagons cut down, caissons destroyed, and piles of camp equipage set on fire. They made good their escape by reaching Franklin and taking shelter behind their breastworks. …
“The main line of works … was constructed by cutting a broad and deep ditch, throwing the dirt within, forming a strong line of defense, which would force an attacking column to cross it before scaling the works, subjecting it to a murderous fire of musketry from the infantry behind the works, even after gaining the ditch; after gaining the ditch it would be almost impossible to climb over the works without short scaling ladders. The works were high enough to protect the whole body of a man standing erect, except the head and neck. Head-logs were placed on top of this line of fortification to protect their heads from our minie balls. The logs were large and raised off the works … some three or four inches … to see well how and where to shoot. …
“In our front a large cotton gin stood, some twenty or thirty feet from the works … ; west of the gin and on the south side of the Columbia and Franklin pike, a large two-story brick residence was standing, which was owned and occupied by a Mr. Carter and his family; south of this and near the line of works, a small one-story brick house with a frame building attached was standing. These buildings, at the commencement of the engagement, were occupied by Federal sharpshooters
“Our corps (halted) … in a cornfield, within plain view of their works. … The field had been cultivated that year, on which had been grown a crop of corn and little white soup beans. The corn had been gathered, but the beans were left hanging on the vines. … The majority of us were anxious to obtain a mess of them. We badly needed them to cook with the fresh, unsalted pork which we had drawn at Columbia. Many of us were filling our haversacks with these beans when Billy Mumford, one of General Quarles’ aides, came riding down our line, and seeing us busily engaged in gathering the beans, as a smile went over his genial face, remarked, ‘Boys, you need not be gathering those beans. We have to storm those breastworks over there’ – he pointing in the direction of them – ‘this afternoon.’ We had no further interest in gathering beans. The calm of soup-making vanished as swiftly as did the beans we had gathered – were dashed to the ground. We remained under arms from the time we arrived within this field, which was ten or eleven o’clock in the forenoon, until near four in the afternoon, at which time hunger reminded us that we had tasted nothing since before daylight that morning, at Spring Hill, and we were not permitted to break ranks, in order to prepare our rations. …
“Our division, General Walthall’s, was placed on the extreme right of the Columbia and Franklin pike, and formed the right wing. … This was to be the assailing column of the Federal works on our front. …
“As soon as the lines of battle were formed, a number of our field officers rode out a little in front of the lines. They were Walthall, Loring, Cheatham, Quarles, Cleburne, Granberry, and perhaps others; these officers appeared to hold a brief consultation. … These officers separated, each taking his respective place with his command. A profound silence pervaded the entire army; it was simply awful, reminding one of those sickening lulls which preceded a tremendous thunderstorm This was but momentary. Orders now rang down our line, shrill and clear to forward march! …
“A light skirmish line … was thrown forward, which was soon met by a similar line from the Federals behind their advance line of entrenchments. These two lines quickly engaged in a lively skirmish fight, but as our lines of battle advanced, their line retired behind the line of works, which they had recently left. Our line halted, lay down, and fired upon them in this position, until our lines of battle moved up close enough for them the join us, and become part of the front line.
“We were now ordered to fix bayonets, fire, and charge, the first line of works. They received us with a volley of musketry … inadequate to check our columns in the slightest degree, and with one prolonged and loud cheer we carried the first line of works. … They stood their ground until we mounted the top of their works, but as we went over, part of their line of battle broke, and fled, while the remainder lay down flat on their faces in the ditch to save themselves, and were either killed or captured. … Our lines of infantry swept over their works. … It appeared as if our troops had received an electric shock, which aroused their enthusiasm to its highest pitch, and the air resounded with loud shouts from our whole army. …
“We pressed closely at the heels of their retiring line, to storm the second. Their batteries immediately opened up on us with a perfect hailstorm of grape and canister, and when within a short distance of their main line, we encountered the abatis … and also the line of chevel-de-frise; here the battery … a little to our right, and that our left … sent a tremendous deluge of shot and shell through our ranks, and these seconded by a murderous sheet of fire and lead from the infantry behind the works, and also another battery … directly in our front. …
“Nothing could be heard above the din of musketry and the roar of cannon. … Whenever the dense smoke, in some degree was cleared away by the flash and blaze from the guns, great masses of our infantry could be seen struggling to get over those ingeniously wrought obstructions, who were being slain by hundreds and piled in almost countless numbers. …
“The slaughtering … could be seen down the line as far as the Columbia and Franklin pike, and where the works crossed the pike … our troops were killed by whole platoons. Our front line of battle seemed to have been cut down by the first discharge, for in many places they were lying on their faces in almost as good order as if they had lain down on purpose; but no such order prevailed amongst the dead who fell in making the attempt to surmount the cheval-de-frise, for hanging on the long spikes of this obstruction could be seen the mangled and torn remains of many of our soldiers who had been pierced by hundreds of minie balls and grape shot. …
“The force and wind of the grape and canister … would lift us clear off the ground at every discharge.
“As the great clouds of smoke had to some extent vanished and I could look around me, I saw to my surprise I was left alone in the ditch, within a few feet and to the left of the battery … , which was still pouring forth its messengers of death, and not a living man could be seen standing on my right; neither could one be seen for some distance on my left. They had all been swept away by that mighty tempest of grape and canister and rolling waves of fire and lead. A Federal, who was running in my front just before we entered the ditch, and a little beyond the reach of my bayonet, was shot dead from the works in front, and fell forward into the ditch; in his belt were two large army pistols, which were loaded and capped. I quickly removed them from his belt, and with one in each hand emptied them under the head-logs at the mass of men across the works in my front. … Having nothing with which to reload them, I reloaded my gun and turned toward the embrasure of the cannon, which was a few feet on my right, and tried my best to shoot the artillerymen … whose gunswabs would whirl in the air after every discharge, but each time I obtained a glimpse of any of them, and before I could shoot, a cannon would run out and fire, forcing me to take refuge away from it. After getting my face blistered and eyebrows burned off, I abandoned that dangerous place by getting back away from the blaze of these guns. …
“The ditch was full of dead men, and we had to stand and sit upon them. The bottom of it, from side to side, was covered with blood to the depth of the shoe soles.
“At the ditch we had to encounter enfilading fire of musketry from both directions, as well as that in our front across the works, under the head-logs. The enemy directly in our front attempted to shoot us by turning their backs to the breastworks, taking their guns by the breach and raising them above their heads over the head-logs, so as to point the muzzles downward, firing them at us this way, and having nothing exposed except their arms and hands. We had to watch this and knock their guns aside with our bayonets. Many of their men had both hands shot off. …
“While this fearful battle was raging, a Federal officer on his horse, at the head of a line of infantry, came dashing up to the works in our front, and one of our soldiers in the ditch, about ten feet from my left, raised his gun and fired, shooting him off his horse. Among the first whom I saw in the ditch, upon their feet and unhurt, were Gen. George W. Gordon, Lieutenant Colonel Atkins, commander of our regiment, and Captain Williams, of an Alabama regiment. These men appeared to be undaunted, and a look of stoic determination had settled upon their weather-beaten faces. …
“The color-bearer and color-guard of our regiment were all killed near the edge of the ditch; the last man of the color-guard was shot while waving the regimental colors at the breast-works, and fell forward, the flag reaching over within the Federal works, the staff resting across the head-logs. Some brave soldier of our little remnant quickly seized the staff, recovered the flag and carried it off the field. …
“As our attacking columns were destroyed and repulsed, the firing became less frequent, except from our batteries in the rear. …
“As the firing from the enemy in our front began somewhat to abate, sixteen of our soldiers, who were in the ditch some twenty or thirty feet on my left, sprang up and ran out of the ditch …; a whole volley of musketry was fired at them, killing the last one to a man. When they started I raised in a stooping position, thinking I would run also, but they being killed so quickly caused me to abandon the idea of escape. The few of us who were alive at the ditch were in considerable danger from our own batteries and stray minie balls. We tried to lie down in the ditch. It afforded scant protection, being almost full of dead men.
“We … saw that we had but one choice, if any, left, and that was to surrender. Lieutenant Colonel Atkins was requested to surrender the little crowd, but declined, stating that he would rather die in the ditch than to surrender us. Some few of our soldiers, a little further on our left, raised their caps on ramrods, but they were fired upon and riddled with bullets. … Captain Williams then requested some one to hand him a white handkerchief, but not one could be found. One of our soldiers who was fortunate enough to have on a white shirt, tore off a large piece and handed it to him. The captain tied this on the end of a ramrod, and hoisted it over our heads so it could be seen by the Federals. A Federal officer ordered the troops in our front to cease firing, which they did. He came up to the works, looked over and said: ‘Throw down your arms, boys, and come over.’ I threw my gun and the two pistols as far back toward our lines as I could send them, and as I passed over the works glanced around at my fallen comrades … and drew a sigh of regret as I gave them a last sad look. …
“Six hundred of us marched over the Federal breastworks, under a white flag waving over our heads, and were immediately surrounded by an escort of Federal troops, armed with Springfield rifles, upon the end of which was a long sharp-pointed bayonet. The ground on the inside of the works was strewn with dead and wounded Federals, most of whom had been shot in the neck and head. Near the oak tree which was standing close to the cotton gin, D.S. Majors, a member of our regiment was wounded by a stray minie ball coming from the direction of our own men. He fell against the tree, and as he fell, called me to come to him. I turned and started, but a Federal soldier presented his cocked gun at my head, at the same time ordering me to march onward with the other prisoners.
“Now an exulting shout went up from the Federal army after the battle terminated. … We were marched back into the town, out of range of the cannon shot and shell which were still being fired at the Federal lines. … A double chain-guard of infantry was now thrown around us with orders to shoot any one who attempted an escape. I now, for the first time, discovered that my left arm, from the shoulder to the hand, was covered with the blood and brains of some one. My haversack and canteen had been shot away; my clothing well perforated with minie balls, but my body untouched.
“Night … found fifty officers, with five hundred and fifty privates of our army, in the hands of and at the mercy of the Federal army. Many of us were very hungry and thirsty, as we had not eaten anything since early that morning at Spring Hill. But several of the Federals divided their rations with us. A friendly disposed old soldier gave me part of his rations, which consisted of pickled pork and crackers, and also a drink of water from his canteen. … Soon a conversation arose between the officers of both sides, relative to the length of time the engagement lasted. Some one of the Federal officers, who stated that he had timed it, informed us that from the time our front line of battle began to advance until the firing ceased, was one hour and forty minutes, but the destructive part of it – that is, from the time our infantry carried their advance line of entrenchments, lasted only forty minutes.
“This handful of prisoners presented a ghastly and powder-burnt appearance; the clothing was badly stained with blood, the faces blackened and blistered by the streams of fire from the enemy’s guns … ; the hair on many of their heads was somewhat singed and the eyebrows burned off.
“On this even of sadness, this night of gloom, I found myself / contemplating the utter folly of all those four long years of hardships and privations … which … , on this particular night, seemed … fruitless. … In losing this battle we felt that our beautiful and Sunny south … had received a blow from which it never could recover.
“We were now informed that we must take up our line of march to Nashville. … Some time during the latter part of the night of the 30th, we started on quick time … surrounded by a guard. … General Hood’s cannon frequently hurried us on the road from quick time to a swift run; in fact, we were almost constantly under the necessity of running very fast to keep beyond their range. … arrived at Nashville before noon on the first day of December, both hungry and tired. Many of the prisoners were barefooted and could have been easily tracked by the marks of blood behind them. We were ragged, dirty and blood-bespattered. … We were paraded on the capitol grounds. We were kept on public exhibition for five or six hours. … (Governor) Andrew Johnson, afterwards President of the United States, … greeted this little handful of half-starved, unarmed and defenceless men with a volume of abuse and vituperation. … A majority of the citizens who came to look at us were ladies. … They were not allowed to approach nearer than the bayonet’s point of the double chain-guard of Federal troops who were between us and them, nor permitted to exchange any words with us. But we saw their looks of tenderness and affection as the wife sought a glimpse of her long absent husband, the mother her … boy, the sister her … soldier-brother, the daughter her … father. …
“We were now ordered away from this sorrowful and grief-stricken crowd, to … the outer dismal walls of the State penitentiary. The Federals now issued ration led pork and crackers. … While we were preparing our meals, the Federal army surgeons came in to examine those who had been slightly wounded. … One of our soldiers, a mere boy, had been shot in the right foot; the ball hit him on the instep, passed through the foot and came out at the point of the heel. … (He had hopped) on this wounded foot all the way from Franklin to Nashville, a distance of eighteen miles. … An army surgeon, while examining his foot, good-naturedly asked him, ‘if he had been shot while his back was fronting the enemy?’ The soldier replied, ‘that during the entire campaign he had never turned his back to the Yankees.’ The surgeon … looked at him and remarked, ‘That’s right; you are a brave boy and an American. Never disgrace the cause you espouse.’ …
“Near the hour of three on the following morning … we were ordered to march out to the Nashville and Louisville depot. … We were ordered to board a train of box cars, at the same time being informed that the city of Louisville, Kentucky, was our next place of interest, at which place we arrived in due time, and marched into quarters which were regular soldiers’ barracks. The officers were separated from the privates. It appeared that they were destined for a different place from that in store for us, and we were informed they were soon started for Johnson’s Island.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 18, pages 452-453
Editor’s notes: This account is of value for its information about the McGavock Confederate Cemetery at Carnton.
“The plot of ground on which … (the Confederate) cemetery is located was given by Col. John McGavock, and adjoins his family cemetery. It is about three hundred yards from Carnton, the family residence, and about a mile south of Franklin. …
“All of the Confederate dead were buried by States close to where they fell, and wooden headboards were put at each grave with the name, company, and regiment designated.
“In the spring of 1866, about sixteen months after the battle, Col. John McGavock, seeing the near destruction of the graves, conceived the idea of having the bodies removed to a more secure place, gave two acres of ground adjoining his family cemetery, and he and some of the patriotic citizens of Franklin raised the money necessary, mostly from the States having sons buried there.
“The dead were then disinterred and removed in April, 1866, to McGavock Cemetery, where they were buried in the order in which they had been buried on the battlefield.
“It may be seen that many graves in each State plot are marked ‘unknown.’ After the Federals reoccupied Franklin, the negroes flocked in great numbers … from all over the country; and the weather being very cold, they made frequent raids on the headboards for firewood.
“When those graves were opened, there were few things to indicate who they were. Many names, however, have been ascertained from those who survived the battle, and have been replaced on the stones that are now at the head of the graves. …
“The first markers at the head of the graves were of cedar with the name, company and regiment. In the course of time these rotted and have become obliterated.
“However, those who had them removed had made a complete record of all the graves, which was sacredly kept by Mrs. George L. Cowan. It was no trouble, therefore, when the new granite headstones were put up to get the correct names for each grave.
“There is a substantial iron fence around the cemetery, which was built with money raised mostly in Texas by Miss M.A.H. Gay, of Macon, Ga. …
“The number from each State buried in the cemetery are: Alabama, 129; Arkansas, 104; Florida, 4; Georgia, 69; Kentucky, 6; Louisiana, 18; Mississippi, 424; Missouri, 130; North Carolina, 2; Tennessee, 230; Texas, 89; South Carolina, 57; unknown, 225. Total 1,487.”
George L. Cowan was a lieutenant in the escort for Confederate cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest. Cowan was about 19 in November 1864. In 1884 he married Carnton resident Hattie McGavock, who was 9 years old in November 1864 – Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort and Staff: by Michael R. Bradley.
George and Hattie Cowan were living in Franklin in 1898. – Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, by John Allen Wyeth.
Hattie was the daughter of Carrie and John McGavock, whose home was Carnton.
Cowan’s comment about his wife’s keeping of the records of Confederate dead buried at Carnton indicates she had inherited the book from her mother, who had kept it for years.
Cowan’s rank is given as captain in his Confederate Veteran history of the cemetery, but he is a lieutenant in Bradley’s and Wyeth’s books.
Cowan’s obituary is in Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 20, page 79.
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 5, page 303
“Cleburne’s Division … on the right of the Columbia pike and … Cheatham’s on the left … bore to the pike, making our force much stronger at that point. …
“I had just shot my gun and was reloading, when a Federal captain, in ten feet of me, with his pistol shot one of my comrades, and another one of them raised his gun to shoot this Federal captain, when he threw up his hands to surrender. A Southern lieutenant, not seeing the captain shoot our man, and thinking his man ought not to shoot an enemy with his hands up, knocked the gun down, and pointed the Federal captain to the rear. There was a hand to hand fight for a short while. …
“When I had gotten over their last line by the pike I saw their colors fall a few paces in my front. I leaped forward and grasped them. Not being able to handle my gun and save the flag, I returned with it to the works, when, to my surprise, I found that many of the enemy had never left the ditch, and were still firing at our men, who had stopped at the embankment. The flag that I had captured was that of the (Fifty)-seventh Indiana regiment, near where their main and last line of works crossed the Columbia pike.”
Editor’s notes: Two sources. Cunningham is important in Civil War history for his career after the war as editor of Confederate Veteran magazine
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 18, pages 19-20
“I happened to be, when my regiment halted on the apex of Winstead Hill, near where General Hood, leaving his staff on the southern slope of the hill, rode over a crest and down to a linden tree – the only tree in any direction – and with his glasses examined the area to Franklin – the breastworks in front of the town and the Fort (Granger) … across the Harpeth River. I watched him closely, meditating upon his responsibility. When he returned to the top of the hill and near where I happened to be standing, a general officer … dressed handsomely and riding a magnificent black horse, met him and Hood said, ‘General, we will make the fight,’ and the two clasped hands. Orders were speedily dispatched to various commanders, a band of music on the slope across the pike began to play, and the Army of Tennessee was soon in motion. Cheatham’s Division was deployed to the immediate left, its right resting on the Columbia-Franklin Pike, while Cleburne’s Division was deployed on the eastern side, with its left resting on the pike.
“I was right guide of the 41st Tennessee Regiment, my position being four paces in front, which was the second regiment in the line from the pike. Gen. O.F. Strahl, my brigade commander, had presented his horse that day to Chaplain R.T. Quintard, and went into the battle on foot, selecting as his place in the line to march by my right side. Over that open area of nearly two miles he rarely spoke, and then directly upon the alignment of his command. A sadder face I have never seen. …
“The Federals undertook to maintain a second line of works about a half mile in front of their main line; and when we closed in upon that force, it broke for their main line, which was across the garden south of the Carter house and extended east by a cotton gin. … Our men, seeing the opportunity, ran after the fleeing Federals so closely that from their main line of works they could not fire until many Confederates were at their works. Many got across, and there was much hand-to-hand encounter The chevaux-de-frise, made largely of locust bushes, with limbs sharpened and piled, was about forty feet in front of their works, so that it seemed an impregnable barrier, even if there had been no enemy over the works. Three lines of battle – meaning closed-up six rows abreast – worked their way through these thousands of spears and got into the wide ditch, the dirt of which the enemy had used for its breastworks. The dirt was thrown to their side and that embankment capped by heavy head logs of green timber.
“It was impossible to shoot effectively from the trench … , so that some of the soldiers took position on the side of the embankment and fired while others loaded the guns. There was no order of companies after getting through the chevaux-de-frise, nor even of regiments or brigades.
“It happened that General Strahl, however, got a position in the intrenchment, where he stood for a long, long time and passed up guns to the men firing from the embankment. I could get no place in the intrenchment, and, as did many others, I lay as close to the ground as possible, loaded the short Enfield rifle that I had been permitted to carry on account of my size, and had passed it to General Strahl the fourth or fifth time, I think. The man on the embankment had cocked it and was taking careful aim, when he was shot dead and fell on the heap below him.
“Night was on now, so that every soldier’s gun by the flash of powder made him a target; and as the intrenchment was practically leveled up with our dead, volunteers ceased, when General Strahl persuaded others. He said to one man: ‘Have you shot any?’ To another: ‘Have you?’
“Then he simply pointed toward me. I arose, stepped on to the pile of dead, resting one foot on the man killed while aiming my gun and the other in the embankment. A strong, large man took position to my right and close by me, and the two of us fired a long, long time. It is impossible for me to reckon as to the time; but I became thirsty and dry down into my chest as the dust from the street, and my shoulder was black for weeks from the jar of firing so many times.
“The enfilade fire from the cotton gin – Cleburne’s brave men failed to take the line across the pike – was so severe that our dead were piled upon each other and far on in the battle. I felt that there was no rule of warfare whereby all the men should be killed, and said to General Strahl suggestively: ‘What had we better do?’ His reply was instant: ‘Keep firing.’
“It became more and more difficult to get the loaded guns, and eventually the soldier who had been firing by my side was shot and fell against me with agonizing groans. Utterly unable to do anything for him, I simply asked him how he was wounded; but he sank to the pile of comrades back of him, and, I presume, was soon dead.
“At the same instant the soldier was shot General Strahl was struck; and throwing both hands above his head, almost to a clasp, he fell limber on his face, and I thought he was dead. … When I asked the soldier how he was wounded, the General thought I spoke to him, and he said he was wounded in the neck, he didn’t know how badly, and then he called for Colonel Stafford, the senior regimental commander, to turn over the command to him. He crawled away, his sword dangling against dead soldiers, in search of Colonel Stafford. Members of his staff started to carry him to the rear, when two bullets struck him, either of which, it is said, would have been fatal.
“There being no resistance to the right of the position I had held – nobody seemed alive but the dreadfully wounded –, I moved to the westward, where in getting a loaded gun I would climb up the embankment and fire. Lt. Henry B. Morgan … , of Lynchburg, Tenn., was in the trench at this latter place, and in getting up and down for this firing I pressed against his shattered arm until he said: ‘O, Sumner, you hurt my arm!’
“By this time the firing had practically ceased. I had done what I could. … I ran to the rear. …
“Early in the morning after the battle I went along the line of works in search of a messmate. … I found Colonel Stafford a little in rear of the intrenchment almost standing, packed around by soldiers, all dead.
“My gun happened to fall to the bottom of the intrenchment and became submerged in blood which soaked the earth during the night, and when found … the gun, lock, stock, and barrel, was of a brighter red than could have been expected by any paint and varnish.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 1, page 16
“The greater part of the battle was fought after nightfall, and once in the midst of it, with but the light of the flashing guns, I could see only what passed directly under my own eyes. True, the moon was shining; but the dense smoke and dust (were) … like a heavy fog before the rising of the sun.”
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, edited by Mamie Yeary; 1912
“From where we formed at the foot of the hill was about 1,200 yards from their main line of works; we could see them as plainly as could be; there wasn’t a tree or a stump or anything between us and them except the grass that was growing in the old field – in fact, it was a parade ground almost. On the right was a gin-house, and in our front there was a beautiful bois d’arc hedge; the body of the trees in the hedge was about 4 or 5 inches in diameter; on the left of the turnpike and near the Carter house, and in front of Cleburne’s Division, was a locust hedge. When the fight was over both of these hedges lay flat on the ground toward us, split and torn into splinters, down level with the ground. …
“The sight that met our eyes the next morning was indescribable. Thousands lay upon that field, dead and dying. You could see squads of these veterans who had fought together, and slept together, kneeling down around the body of some dying comrade, and their grief was so great that they wept like women. …
“My battery was equipped like infantry, and we were ordered to charge with Company E of the Fifteenth Mississippi, so as to turn (the Federals’) … own guns on them after we had captured them; but what a disappointment. … This kind of defense we did not expect.”
Note: Flatau provided a roster for Cowan’s Battery; it was published in Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 15, page 410.
One of Cleburne’s Command. The Civil War Reminiscences and Diary of Capt. Samuel T. Foster, Granbury’s Texas Brigade, CSA, edited by Norman D. Brown. University of Texas Press; 1980
“By the time they get to their 2nd line of works, the men that were in them are out and on the run, and they all run back to the 3rd line of breastworks, while we stop at the 2nd line. The 3rd line was not over 40 yards from us. We take position out side of their works, and they come out and charge us in return. They come up and meet us at this 2nd line and stop on one side and we on the other – with a bank of dirt between us. By this time it was getting dark and the firing was stopping gradually. … The firing by an hour after night has nearly ceased, except when one man will hold his gun up as high as he can and shoot over the bank of dirt. They throw clods of dirt over and sticks or anything they can get hold of. …
The next morning:
“Our Brigade and the Arkansas Brigade are so badly cut up that we can’t move. Some officers have no men, and some companies have (no) officers. So we have to reorganize and consolidate. A Captain has to command the brigade.
“Gen. Hood has betrayed us. This is not the kind of fighting he promised us at Tuscumbia and Florence, Ala., when we started into Tennessee. This was not a ‘fight with equal numbers and choice of the ground’ by no means. …
“The wails and cries of widows and orphans made at Franklin … will heat up the fires of the bottomless pit to burn the soul of Gen. J.B. Hood for Murdering their husbands and fathers. … It can’t be called anything else but cold blooded murder.”
Two Wars: The Autobiography & Diary of Gen. Samuel G. French, CSA; 1901 (pages 302ff)
French comments on Hood:
“Had he not made erroneous statements in his reports and in his book, and perverted facts, and cast reflections on me and the men I had the honor to command at Allatoona, I would have kept silent.”
“Gen. Hood was a noble commander of a division, for he was indeed a brave man; but as the commander of an army, … he was too impulsive. … Constant conflicts entailed losses on both sides, and we had no men to sacrifice. The misfortune in part was that he had condemned Johnston’s policy, and obeyed him reluctantly, and felt bound when he superseded him to carry on an aggressive war, and in doing so wrecked the Army of Tennessee.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. II, pages 4-5
“While the officers were collecting the scattered and broken ranks, I went with Gen. Stewart to Gen. Hood’s headquarters. He had determined to renew the attack in the morning. The plan was that all our artillery – 100 pieces – which had been brought up, was to open on them at daylight, and at 9 the whole army was to assault the works. … We rode up to a part of the enemy’s line, which we still held, to place Strahl’s brigade in position, when I was struck by the stillness in the enemy’s works, and asked the officer nearest me if the enemy had not gone. He said that they had, as some of his men had been down and found no one there. Further examination convinced me … , and I rode back to our camp-fire, and just as day was dawning I dismounted, wet, weary, hungry, and disheartened, telling Gen. Stewart that Schofield was gone. A half-hour’s rest, not sleep, on the wet ground and I got up, drank a cup of coffee and … rode over the field early in the day, before the details which I had ordered had begun to bury the dead. It was awful! The ditch at the enemy’s line – on the right and left of the pike – was literally filled with dead bodies, lying across each other, in all unseemly deformity of violent death. …
Gale writes about use of Carnton, the McGavocks’ home, as a field hospital:
“Her house … was in the rear of our line. The house is one of the large old fashioned country houses of the better class in Tennessee, two stories high, with many rooms and every arrangement for comfort. This was taken as a hospital and the wounded in hundreds were brought to it during the battle and the night after. Every room was filled, every bed had two poor, bleeding fellows, every spare space, nick and corner, under the stairs, in the hall, everywhere, but one room for her and family. And when the … house could hold no more, the yard was appropriated until the wounded and dad filled that, and were not provided for. Our doctors were deficient in bandages, and she began by giving her old linen, then her towels and napkins, then her sheets and tablecloths, and her husband’s shirts and her own under-garments. During all this time, the surgeons plied their work, amid he signs and moans, and death rattles of the stricken. Yet, amid it all, this … woman … (was) active and constantly at work to assist them all.
“During the night, neither she nor any of her household slept, but dispensed tea and coffee and such stimulants as she had, and that, too, with her own hand, … she walked from room to room from man to man, her very skirts stained in blood. …
“About 9 in the morning she sent for us, General and staff, to come to breakfast. She did not know I was there. When I went in and she saw me, she was like one possessed almost about you and the family. We had a nice warm breakfast and a warmer welcome. The brother of one of my clerks – McReady – was very badly wounded and then in her house. I bespoke her kind attention which she gave until he died.
“Many years ago (before) I was in the same house and in the same room on a visit.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 11, page 102
“(A) boy … mounted the breastworks in front of the gin house, and, with the butt of his gun, struck among the Yankees. They pulled him over to their side of the works, and still he tried to club them. Another of our soldiers shot at the Yankees, but they pulled him over, and that is the last I ever saw of him.”
NOTE: See W.C. Neese, 3rd Missouri, re identity of the boy
Editor’s notes: Two sources: Confederate Veteran magazine article and Jacob Cox’s The Battle of Franklin
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 8, pages 7-9:
“Within a hundred paces of their main line and stronghold … it seemed to me that hell itself had exploded in our faces. Men fell right and left, fast and thick. … Such a storm of shot and shell, canister and musketry. … Gen. Cleburne came charging from our left, through his men and mine, diagonally toward the enemy’s works. … His horse, running with great speed, would have plunged over and trampled (me) if (I) … had not checked (my) … pace as (I) … ran on foot. This was near the works, and Gen. Cleburne must have fallen immediately after this, though I saw him no more.
“On we rushed, Granberry’s men and mine mingling as we approached the enemy’s works, on reaching which the most of us halted in the ditch on the outside, amid the dead and dying men of both armies. … We reached the works with but few men, and these were well-nigh exhausted, having charged at full speed for more than half a mile. … Our position at the works was just to the left of the famous old gin house, between that and the pike. …
“We fought them across their breastworks, both sides lying low and putting their guns under the head logs that were on the earthworks, firing nervously, rapidly, and at random, and not exposing any part of the body except the hand that fired the gun. … We were exposed to a dangerous and destructive enfilading fire of the enemy on our left, there being an angle in their works; and also to the fire of some of our own forces of Gen. Stewart’s Command from our right rear. …
“Some of our men shouted to the enemy across the line that if they would ‘cease firing’ they would surrender. Amid the uproar this was not heard, and a signal of surrender was made by putting our hats or caps on their bayonets fixed on their guns and holding them up above the works. The first of these signals … were perforated by the enemy’s bullets. … At length they heard and understood our men, and, amid the fearful din, we distinctly heard the command, ‘Cease firing!’ given on the other side of the works; and in a moment all was comparatively quiet in our immediate front, and the men wa1ked over the works and surrendered. It was fatal to leave the ditch and attempt to escape to the rear. Every man who attempted it – and a number did – was at once shot down. I ordered them to remain in the ditch until I told them they could surrender. When all had walked aver the works except one of my men and myself, he asked if I was not going over. I replied in the negative, saying I would remain under cover of the dead in the ditch until night, which was approaching. He said he would remain with me. But the bullets from our right rear and the enfilading fire on our left, which had never ceased, fell so thick about us that I finally said, ‘We shall be killed if we remain here,’ at the same time handing him a white handkerchief and telling him to put it on his bayonet and walk over the works. He did so, and I followed him.
“As I jumped down on the inside of the works a Federal soldier struck at my head with the butt of his gun, but the stroke was averted from my head by another Federal soldier pushing the gun as it came down, causing it to give me only a glancing blow upon the shoulder, saying as he did so: ‘Don’t strike him. He is surrendering.’ I was immediately placed in charge of two soldiers, who were ordered to hurry me to the rear. There was great confusion … in the enemy’s ranks, even after we surrendered. I heard officers cursing their men and saw them striking them with their swords to hold them at the works. And when I arrived … at the pontoon bridge across (the) Harpeth River, about a half mile from where I was captured, I saw hundreds of stragglers from the Federal army huddled and attempting to cross the stream, but were kept back by officers with drawn swords and pistols, who were urging them to return to the field.”
The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864, by Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox. Gordon spoke at the unveiling of a statue of Gen. Cleburne in Helena, Ark. His address was published May 11, 1891, in the Memphis Appeal.
“When we had arrived within about four hundred paces of the enemy’s advanced line of intrenchments, – Wagner’s two brigades – our columns were halted and deployed into two lines of battle preparatory to the charge. The advanced position of the enemy was not a continuous, but a detached line, manned by two brigades, and situated about six hundred paces in front of his main line … , and was immediately in front of Cleburne’s left and Cheatham’s (Brown’s) right. When all was ready the charge was ordered. With a wild shout, we dashed forward upon this line. The enemy delivered one volley at our rushing ranks and … fled for refuge to his main and rear line. The shout was raised, ‘Go into the works with them.’ … We rushed on … killing some in our running, fire, and capturing others who were slow of foot, sustaining but small losses ourselves until we arrived within about one hundred paces of their main line. …
“The enemy had thus long reserved their fire for the safety of their routed comrades, who were flying to them for protection, and who were just in front of and mingled with the pursuing Confederates. When it became no longer safe for themselves to reserve their fire, they opened upon us – regardless of their own men who were mingled with us – … a hailstorm of shot and shell, musketry and canister. …
“Amid this scene General Cleburne came charging down our line to the left, and diagonally toward the enemy’s works, his horse running at full speed, and if I had not … checked my pace as I ran on foot, he would have plunged over and trampled me to the earth. On he dashed, but for an instant longer, when rider and horse both fell. …
“On we rushed, his men of Granbury’s brigade and mine having mingled as we closed on the line, until we reached the enemy’s works; but being now so exhausted and so few in numbers, we halted in the ditch on the outside of the breastworks among dead and dying men, both Federals and Confederates. A few charged over, but were clubbed down with muskets or pierced with bayonets.
“For some time we fought them across the breastworks, both sides lying low and putting their guns under the head-logs upon the works, firing rapidly and at random and not exposing any part of the body except the hand that fired the gun. …
“At length they heard us and understood us, ceased their fire, and we crossed their works and surrendered. It was fatal to leave the ditch and endeavor to escape to the rear. Every man who attempted it – and a number did – was at once exposed and shot down without exception. …
“The left of my brigade, under command of Colonel Horace Rice – I was on the right – successfully broke the line, and some of my … men were killed fifty paces or more within the works. But just at this critical juncture a reinforcement of a Federal brigade confronted them with a heavy fire, and being few in numbers, they were driven back to the opposite side of the works, behind which they took position and bravely held the line they had previously taken.”
Re position of Gordon’s brigade, according to Cox:
The left was at the break in Strickland’s line on the west of the turnpike; his right extended across the road to the east, into part of the ground occupied by Granbury’s brigade of Cleburne’s division.
Cox says Gordon’s account supports opinion that Cleburne fell east of the pike, nearly in front of the cotton-gin and a few rods from the federal breastworks
Cox says Gordon and men he surrendered with came over the works in Reilly’s brigade and not far from the cotton-gin
Cox says the head logs Gordon mentions were really embrasures for the cannon.
Cox also says statement by “Mr. John McQuaide of Vicksburg, one of the party which found the body” also supports this position for Cleburne’s death. See McQuaide’s account.
Cleburne and His Command, by Capt. Irving A. Buck; 1908
From letter written to Buck by Gen. D.C. Govan, dated Sept. 3, 1907:
“Our division occupied a position on Winstead’s Hill from which we were expected to advance. General Cleburne had just returned from a consultation with General Hood and the other generals, all of whom were opposed to attacking (along) the main pike entering the town, as the enemy could have been flanked and compelled to abandon his strongly fortified position. General Hood had directed General Cleburne to call his brigade commanders together and give specific instructions as to the method of attack. … We were directed to advance by the head of columns, and as soon as we came under fire, to fix bayonets, charge, and go over the breastworks and break the enemy’s line at all hazards.
“General Cleburne seemed to be more despondent than I ever saw him. I was the last one to receive any instructions from him, and as I saluted and bade him good-bye I remarked, ‘Well, General, there will not be many of us that will get back to Arkansas,’ and he replied, ‘Well, Govan, if we are to die, let us die like men.’
“After receiving his final orders we were directed to advance, which was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. We had to advance across an old open common, subjected to the heavy fire of the Federal forces. We met the enemy in a short space of time and carried the first line commanded by General Wagner. When that line was broken, General Cleburne’s object seemed to be to run into the rear line with the fleeing Federals from Wagner’s division.
“About that time General Cleburne’s horse was killed. His courier brought him another, and as he was in the act of mounting, this horse was killed. He then disappeared in the smoke of battle, and that was the last time I ever saw him alive.”
From letter Govan wrote to Capt. James Dinkins:
“I was very near him when his first horse was killed. The impetus at which he was moving carried the horse forward after his death wound, and he fell almost in the ditch on the outside of the entrenchments. One of the couriers dismounted and gave him his horse, and while in the act of mounting, this second horse was killed by a cannon ball fired from the gin-house. General Cleburne then moved forward on foot, waving his cap, and I lost sight of him in the smoke and din of battle, and he must have met his death in a few seconds afterwards. All of this occurred near the intersection of the pike, and his body was found within 20 yards of where I saw him last waving his cap and urging his command forward.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. III, page 252
Editor’s note: Hawks does not identify his regiment.
“Two young ladies … were so kind to me while lying wounded in the basement of the Court House at Franklin. … Miss Sue McEwen … was sent in by Dr.Plunkett, her cousin, the second day after the battle. She visited me nearly every day … , often bringing me clothing and always something good to eat. Miss Sallie Jordan took my coat, torn with bullets and saturated with blood, and washed and patched it. …
“Hearing that our army was falling back, I, although unable to walk, with twenty-two other wounded of our regiment, undertook to make my way South. … That … morning, about two o’clock, some of the boys brought a horse to the door. They then picked me up, put me in the saddle, and placed a pillow under my arm. We made our way our safely to Corinth, Miss., without any medical attention whatever, or anything in the way of rations, except the little found by those who could ‘forage.’”
Editor’s note: Two sources
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 21, page 76:
“The advance of Loring’s Division was obstructed by a deep railroad cut, by an abatis, and by a hedge of osage orange. This abatis was most elaborate, the boughs of the osage hedge being interlocked; while the sharpened planks, sloped so as to strike the breast, were set deep in the ground, nailed to crosspieces. It was impossible to get through this hedge, and our heaviest loss was occasioned while our men were trying to pull away the abatis. … This hedge and abatis were only about thirty feet in front of the enemy’s intrenchment, which was protected by head logs. …
“When the left wing of Adams’s Brigade reached the abatis under the most galling fire, literally in their faces – the enemy being armed with repeating rifles – and an enfilade fire from the fort beyond the Harpeth River, these … men tried in vain to pull up the obstruction or force their way through it. … Many of our men got through and into the ditch around their works, where they remained until the enemy withdrew about midnight. …
“Night closed the battle for those not in the ditch. … Those in the ditch, and there were many from all commands, kept up a steady fire until the enemy withdrew.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 26, page 11:
“About ten o’clock that night I received orders to report to Maj. R.W. Milsaps, inspector general of Major General Loring’s division. Arriving at General Loring’s headquarters, I found the inspectors of the other brigades. Major Milsaps informed us that we were to report to General Hood. … General Hood received us with great courtesy, remarked on the battle, and announced that the corps of Gen. Stephen D. Lee had come up from Columbia … , bringing the artillery of the army; that he desired each brigade inspector to place his respective brigade as near the position it occupied in the battle as possible under cover of darkness, … that he proposed at dawn to open on the enemy with two hundred guns, firing without cessation till sunrise, … when, under the smoke from the batteries, a general assault would be made on the works of the enemy. …
“I determined to familiarize myself with the route of the brigade to its position before promulgating the order to the troops, as they were resting and getting rations. Taking with me my personal friend, Courier Joe McCain, … we picked our way … through the darkness to the battlefield, directed by the occasional report of a rifle. Just before reaching the field the firing ceased, and we found little torchlights flitting about in our front. Hailing one of these torchbearers, I asked: ‘What do these lights mean?’ The reply was: ‘The enemy has evacuated the works, and we are looking for the wounded.’
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 17, page 14
“I was seriously wounded in my right leg, which was amputated next day on the field near the Federal breastworks close to the cotton gin. … My wound was so serious that I could not crawl or get away, and while … on ground I was shot through the fore arm, the ball shattering both bones, and a few minutes thereafter I was shot again in my left shoulder. …
“Col. Hugh Garland … was killed by a second shot while prostrated on the ground. …
“I was within six feet of Colonel Garland when a Federal soldier gave him water from his canteen and straightened him out on the ground, relieving him somewhat from the weight of other dying or dead comrades. …
“About ten o’clock at night, when the battle was somewhat over, the roar of cannon and small arms had in a measure ceased, and nothing could be heard but the wails of the wounded and the dying, some calling for their friends, some praying to be relieved of their awful suffering, and thousands in the deep, agonizing throes of death filled the air with mournful sounds and dying groans. …
“My right leg was amputated … on the field near the Federal breastworks close to the cotton gin.”
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, by Mamie Yeary; 1912.
“My arm (was) broken between the shoulder and the elbow by a canister ball. The doctors split my arm from one joint to the other and removed all the shattered bones. I was two years before I could use it. Had my middle finger shot off by a minie ball.
“Was left in the hospital at Franklin when the army fell back. Was carried to Nashville on Christmas eve night and remained there for about one month, then sent to Camp Chase, Ohio.”
Note: Camp Chase was a prisoner of war camp.
“History of the 18th Alabama Regiment,” by Jones; July 6, July 13, July 20 and July 27, 1905, Jones Valley Times (Birmingham, Alabama). Also available as History of the 18th Alabama Infantry Regiment – CSA, by Reverend Edgar W. Jones; 1994; Zane Geier, editor; Stephen P. Barber, Web editor.
Nov. 30, 1864, at Franklin:
“At about 10 o’clock the firing from the enemy grew weaker, and it was discovered that they were evacuating the town. When this was known the 18th was ordered forward from the hill along the pike and into the town. By the light of the stars we saw many ghastly sights. The dead and dying lay thick and many dead on every hand. We crossed the works and halted just inside along the pike. We were not certain as to the whereabouts of the foe, but we soon ascertained that he had at least crossed Little Harpeth River, and so close was he pressed that he did not destroy the bridge. The soldiers soon spread over the town and many of the citizens asked for a guard, lest the men might depredate upon them.”
Dec. 1 in Franklin:
“The morning was quite cold and frosty and I observed frost on the brows of many of the dead. The wounded had suffered with cold during the night beside their wounds. I approached one wounded Federal and did what I could for him. …
“I was greatly impressed with the large number of Federals killed in the retreat from the outer to the inner works. … I went round and inspected the line of works, and looked at the dead Yankees as they lay in heaps upon heaps in the ditches. I never witnessed such destruction of life anywhere else, not even in the open. Here in splendid works lay the dead as many as five piled on each other and this, too, for long distances. …
“Our men looking upon this dreadful carnage in good breastworks were more or less demoralized by it. We had concluded that we were almost invulnerable to bullets when we were in breastworks. We had been charged so often and especially during the Dalton-Atlanta campaign, without much loss to ourselves that we had concluded that men in good breastworks could not be hurt much. This slaughter of men behind works at Franklin was an eye-opener to us and I noticed that our men were not near so confident after looking upon this awful destruction of human life. …
“Soon after sun-up Hood was putting his army in motion toward Nashville with Holtzclaw’s Brigade in front and the 18th leading.”
The War Memoirs of Captain John W. Lavender, C.S.A., edited by Ted R. Worley. W.M. Hackett and D.R. Perdue, publishers; Pine Bluff, Ark., The Southern Press, 1956. (Sub title:They Never Came Back, the story of Co. F. Fourth Arkansas Infantry.)
“Our lines of Battle was formed something over one mile from their works in the woods Rather behind a hill. When our Forces advanced in two lines and Passed over the Hill near one mile a way there was but little timber and was in Plain view of their works.
“At this point they opened fire with the artilery. Our artillery having been Planted on the Hill opened on the. So a Desperate artilery Duell went on but they used their artilery on our advancing lines with Deadly affect.
“This went on until our lines was in aboute four Hundred yards when Their Infantry opened on us from Their Breastworks. Our lines could not Fire to have any affect but (were) ordered to Trail arms and go in Double Quick which they did. The nearer we got the more Desperate Their Fire became.
“When in About 100 yds of their works our men opened fire and Rushed like Demons on to their works. We Found the Ditch on the out side and went in it, nothing between the two armies in Deadly Combat but a huge Pile of Dirt. Numbers of our men climbed on top of the works to be instantly Killed or mortally wounded. We Kept up a heavy Fire over the works in to their men who was Massed behind the works. …
“This fight was Kept up until late at night when the Federals Gradually with Drew and lef the Confederates victorious but the victory was Dearly bought. The Game was never worth one tenth the cost. The Darkness hid the Desperate Seen until day light come, then the Butchery was sickning. … Every thing was full of Bullets. There was an old Gin House to the right of our Regt that was litterly honey combed with Bullets. There stood a lare Gate Post aboute 12 inches Square and aboute 8 ft. high a few yards in Front of the workd where our Regiment Struck them that was litterly Shot to splinters on the two sides. …
“This Great and Distructive Battle was the least called for and most useless Sacrifice of men of any that was Fought in the Middle or Department of Tennessee. As Every Priveet Soldier Saw afterwards, a slight Flank Movement would have Forced the Enemy out of their works without loosing a man. Our Ranks was So Badly Reduced and seing it Brought on by such useless Reckless Generalship Caused Grate Dissatisfaction in our Ranks. … They Could see the serious mistakes made that cost our army such serious loss and no material to recruit from. They could all see that the time was near that our Strength would be exhausted.”
Editor’s notes: Mrs James L. Bodie, of Lavender’s family, has the manuscript. David R. Perdue of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, has a microfilm of a transcript. Two copies of the book are in the Mt Ida County library, and one copy is in the museum in Mt. Ida. A copy is in the Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Public Library, 200 East Eighth Ave., Pine Bluff, AR 71601
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 10, pages 500-501
“We were ordered to omit the usual ‘yell,’ conceal our approach under cover of darkness and make a spirited dash for the works. My own path lay through the north edge of the famed ‘locust grove.’ Our progress was retarded by the brush which had been cut down. We clambered over, pulled through, or crawled under on hands and knees. … We reached the works just a little to the left of the Carter brick dwelling. … When we came to the works we found the enemy there to greet us. At once there was a fierce struggle across the embankment as to which should hold the ground. Our approach under cover of darkness had somewhat favored us. …
“Our first clash was a fierce struggle across the works, at the very muzzles of our guns. … The enemy in our immediate front were forced back, and the flag of the 41st Mississippi Regiment was borne across the works to the pursuit some distance to the front, a squad of us aligning ourselves with our colors. … The rally for an advance was not general, and we returned under cover of the embankment. The enemy again returned to contest for the works. … There was a brief but fierce clash again, and another shout for an advance. Captain Spooner … mounted the works and walked to and fro, waving his sword and encouraging the men. His symmetric form could be seen through the darkness by the light from the perpetual flash of our guns. …
“Some one – I think it was Ensign (E.L.) Russell – assisted me … to bring a cartouch of ammunition, left by the enemy, across to our side. This gave us an abundant supply of ammunition, and we settled down to a steady fusillade to our front and left. … To our left … the other side of the ditch was filled with bluecoats just a few rods from us. … We could shelter under the works and pour an enfilade fire down their line. This was too much for them and one desperate effort after another was made by them to force their up the ditch to our immediate front. As we poured our deadly fire down their line, we could distinctly hear the death groan and agonizing cries of the wounded. … The contest was thus continued for hours – it seemed an age, and we began to feel ourselves in great straits. We had been long without orders, not the voice of a commanding officer could be heard. We were hard pressed. What should we do? At this time, in an interval between the onslaughts, Capt. John Reed called a few heads together to decide whether we should hold out, retreat, or surrender. The decision was to fight to the bitter end.”
“Late along toward midnight, as the firing began to slacken, … a bright flame broke out down in the town. We supposed they were evacuating, and burning what they could not carry away. … Every object was brought distinctly to view between us and this light. … I saw a fellow pushing down a cartridge, saw the ramrod. I leveled my rifle till the outline darkened the sight and fired. I feel sure the ball he pushed never whistled by a Rebel’s ear to make him dodge. …
“After this it became apparent that the enemy were not so aggressive. The firing slackened. There were intervals of dead silence to be broken again by the crack of the rifles. … A death-like silence was pervading the hush of night … when a clear voice from one of our watchmen rang out: ‘Look at that Yankee right there!’ Pop! pop! pop! rang out a number of rifles. With the stealth of an Indian he had designed to creep upon us and give us a farewell shot, and was discovered within a few yards of our line. His life paid the forfeit of his folly.”
A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill Counties, Texas; 1892; pages 139-142
“The morning after the battle information came to our headquarters that General Cleburne’s body had been found. I immediately went in search of it and found it laid out on the gallery of the McGavock brick house, with boots, pocket-book, diary and sword-belt gone. His face was covered with a lady’s finely embroidered handkerchief. … The general received but one wound, and that was from a minie ball through the body. I procured the coffins for Generals Cleburne and Granbury, and Colonel Young of the Tenth Texas carried their remains to Columbia for interment. …
“The remains of these heroes lay in the parlor of Mrs. Mary R. Polk. … Funeral rites were performed the next day by Rev. Bishop Quintard. After the burial in the Columbia cemetery, I discovered that these gallant men were buried in that portion of the cemetery known as the ‘potter’s field.’ … I felt very indignant, and so expressed myself. … Lucius Polk, brother of General and Bishop Leonidas Polk, was present and most kindly offered me a lot in the Ashwood cemetery, six miles south of Columbia, which generous offer I most thankfully accepted; and accordingly the bodies were buried in a most beautiful spot.
“In 1869, at the request of many friends and of the Ladies’ Confederate Memorial Association of Phillips county, Arkansas, Dr. H.N. Grant, an old friend of General Cleburne, and myself brought the remains from Ashwood to Helena, and buried them in the Confederate burying-ground, satisfactorily to General Cleburne’s friends.”
Note: The “Ashwood cemetery” is the cemetery behind St. John’s Episcopal Church, a rare plantation church, between Columbia and Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee.
From Carnton Plantation archives’ transcript of “Reminiscences of the Battle of Franklin,” for the Southern Presbyterian, Oct. 3, 1893. Folder: Confed. Reunion/ Franklin
Transcript provided by James Redford in May 2011. When I typed this copy, I included everything, including the ellipses.
“It was the writer’s office to select houses in town for the wounded of Loring’s Division, his brigade (Featherston’s), with Adams, and Scott’s, comprising that division, and take the oversight of their removal in the brigade ambulances. Our division field hospital, where our wounded were placed during the fight, was on the wide galleries and broad grounds and in other houses on the estate of Col. John McGavock, where the fight began. When all but the twenty-nine (the worst wounded) were removed, he said, ‘Let these stay.’ They were kept in his house. … The writer’s quarters were with these men through the fortnight following. The duty assigned him was to remain and look after the hospital service, there and in the town.
“Mrs. McGavock was the daughter of Mrs. Martha Winder of Bayou Terrebonne, in Louisiana. Mrs. Winder, Col. McGavock, and Maj. Jno. C. Potts were neighbor sugar planters along the bayou. Before the war, Col. McGavock moved back to Tennessee.
“Advancing in line of battle, the McGavock house had to be passed. As the line parted right and left, a soldier’s gun was by accident discharged as he climbed a fence. Two ladies were at the gate. They retreated to the house. The writer, at the opening of actions, acted on the General’s staff, until needed in care of the wounded, he having charge of the litter bearers. Being at the gate when the ladies withdrew, he rode after them to assure them as to the location of the battle. They had reached the porch. … Mrs. McGavock called my name. We had known each other in Louisiana.
“This recognition, so welcome and so grateful in that strait, led to this selection of our division field hospital, and secured for our suffering men the shelter and care of as noble a home and the ministering attentions of as princely a man and as queenly a woman as it has been the writer’s privilege to know. All that was theirs in that great house was ours. And knowing as they did they would be marked for vengeance, they opened their hearts and their home.”
This is from Carnton Plantation archives: a transcript from an undated and unidentified Mississippi newspaper article in the Confederate Cemetery Folder
“The night after the battle of Franklin, Col. McGavock received into his house and grounds over three hundred wounded men, of Loring’s division of Mississippi troops. After all had been removed, who could be taken to the hospital buildings in the town, more than twenty were left, with their surgeons, nurses and servants in his house.”
Carnton Plantation archives copy of typed transcript of letter written by McCain to “Miss Annie M. Nelson,” and dated July 12, 1878
“At the suggestion of Col. Nelson he and I both dismounted and went into the battle on foot, and from the time we commenced to advance on the enemy until we got within a few yards of the enemy’s works, I did not see him any more, his position being at the center of the Regement (sic) and mine near the center of the right wing. During the charge however, we were brought in contact with each other owing to the change of direction of the charge, and the first I saw of him he was on the ground laying on his back apparently in great agony. He looked at me as I passed him as though he wished to say something to me, but knowing that I was next in command, and any failure of the Regement (sic) to perform its duty would be alledged to me, I pressed on with the command an soon afterwards was wounded myself, which resulted in the loss of a leg and the entire line giving way. … I was left on the battlefield all night, however your father was taken off the field before the line retreated. The next morning I was taken to Col. McGavock’s dwelling where my limb was amputated. On arriving there, that noble and good lady … Mrs. McGavock pointed to a corpse and says that is Col. Nelson.”
Editor’s note: See Confederate Thomas P. Ailes, 12th Louisiana
“Reminiscences of War of 1861,” by McMillan; Alabama Department of Archives and History, SG024896, Folder 5
Editor’s notes: I learned about McMillan’s account of Franklin in The Seventeenth Alabama History, by Illene and Wilbur Thompson; 2001. Using their citation, I requested copies of the portion covering Franklin, but was told the manuscript could not be located in the archives. I wrote to the Thompsons in December 2002 and asked if there was an error in their citation. Illene replied by e-mail on Dec. 18 that the citation is correct for the manuscript, which was donated to the archives in 1901. She and Wilbur found the mss there in 1996 when they were gathering material for their book, and had a copy made. After the Thompsons learned the archives’ mss was missing, they made a copy of their copy and sent it to the archives, which in turn provided me with a copy.
Words I deliberately omitted are indicated by …
Words that could not be read are indicated by ***
“This was to be my last battle in this might war in which we were engaged, and I approach a description of it with a heavy heart, as the recollection of it will call up sad feelings to my mind, as it was also the last battle of one whom I loved more than all else in the world, my dear Brother Ben. He was instantly killed, I suppose so, because he was struck with several balls, one passing through his head. …
“It was about 4 o’clock, I suppose, before the troops were in position and ordered to charge. …
“They rushed upon the first line and swept the enemy before them, and with loud huzzas approached the stronger and inner works. They were met by murderous fire of shell, grape & musketry but still they went on, hundreds giving their lives before the tremendous hailstorm of lead. … The works were reached and captured in some places, but the Southern troops were finally repulsed. I had gotten within about 10 paces of the works, and so thoroughly excited, that I had forgotten the surrounding danger and was thinking of what I should do on reaching the ditch. I had concluded to pick up one of the muskets lying around and use the bayonet on the blue coats, when I was struck in the left thigh with a musket ball, making a severe wound about 10 inches in length but not breaking the bone, although completely paralyzing the whole limb. I was running at the time and as the ball struck me I fell, my face striking the ground. My first impression was that I had been struck by a cannon ball, as I was near in front of a piece, constantly firing. I knew that I was past locomotion. ***
“Being unable to walk, I stretched myself on the ground with my head on my arm to rest, as I was exhausted. *** A ball passing thru (?) my right hand or wrist inflicting a very painful wound, cutting the ulnar artery from which I lost a great deal of blood. Another ball passed through my blanket just grazing my ribs; another glanced my left shoulder but neither of the last did much damage.
“I lay in this position through the whole fight, with my teeth firmly clenched. I looked at the stream of fire under the head logs, expecting every moment to be my last. Besides the balls which struck me, others were constantly striking the earth near enough to throw dirt in my face. … After the repulse of our men, they fell back to the outer line, which had been captured and still kept up firing. I had a mortal dread of being captured, and determined to keep my position until dark – it was then about sundown and crawl back to our line, but as the firing grew slack the men behind the Yankee ditches began to peep over the breastworks, and seeing me alive, ordered me to go over, threatening to shoot me if I did not. Nothing was left me but to comply, and as I was crawling over the breastwork, a cowardly little scoundrel who was afraid to risk his head high enough to see what he was shooting at fired his piece in my face, burning me considerably with the powder. I abused him for shooting a man after he had surrendered, but he disclaimed any intention of shooting me, and about that time our men opening a brisk fire, I was hurried to the rear, an Irishman under each arm supporting me. I was carried through the town and across the Harpeth River, and placed under guard together with 20 or 30 others. I found several of my Regt. And among them my Sergt. Jas. M. Davison. I felt very much exhausted from fatigue and the excitement, together with … the shock from my wounds, as well as the loss of blood. The Yankees had no stimulant or opium, or at least would give me none, and would not allow us to build a fire, for fear of attracting the fire of the Southern troops. The ground was wet. *** Davison spread his blanket on the ground, and we both lay on it and covered with mine, but it seemed I would freeze. I don’t think I ever spent a more miserable night. …
“About midnight all who were able to walk were sent back to Nashville; the guard was withdrawn from the rest, and it was *** were preparing to retreat. The last of them retired, and set fire to the R.R. bridge. The squad of disabled men, among whom I was, were in rear of the bridge, & in line of the fire. The shells burst uncomfortably near to us, but with Davison’s assistance I crawled a few feet and got behind a ledge of rocks which protected me from further harm. After daylight, Davison, who was always an indefatigable forager, found coffee, sugar, coffee pot and cups; indeed he soon had a pretty respectable start for a commissary collected around us from the debris of he Yankee camp. Some of those who were best able, built us a fire. *** We almost forgot the terrors of the night before, and were comparatively comfortable & happy.
“Our men were engaged burying the dead and collecting the wounded on the other side of the river. It was near night on the 1st Dec. before I was taken to town, and cared for, but even then I only rec’d a drink of whisky, and dose of morphine, passing the night on a hard floor, surrounded by 20 or 30 wounded groaning men.
“We had no hospital stores, but the generous citizens of Franklin *** open their doors and fed and nursed us. On the morning of the 2nd Dec. the Surgeon of our Regt. Found me and moved me to the hotel of Mr. Crutcher, where I remained until the 25th Dec. I am deeply indebted to Mr. C & family for their kindness, which could not have been exceeded by my own family. … I had heard of my brother’s death, and was suffering severely with my wounds, but the idea of being in the hands of our people, and kindly cared for, went far to sustain me in my severe trials. …
After the Battle of Nashville on Dec. 15 and 16:
“Hood’s army had been routed; he had retreated across the Tenn. and I was again a prisoner. On the morning of Dec. 25th I was sent by R.R. to Nashville, where I began an existence as *** miserable as it is possible for man to experience. Although I had two supporating wounds and required nutritious diet, I as placed on a cracker and water 3 time per day. We were quartered in the 3rd story of a building, formerly used as a female school, near the River, and with the exception of the systematic *** of Starvation pursued towards us, were tolerably well. … But O! the pangs of Hunger! I remained at Nashville until Mar. 1st, 1865, by which time I was able to walk on crutches. I was then sent to Lousiville, Ky. And kept in the Military Barracks 10 days; from there I was sent to Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio, by way of Indianapolis Ind. I remained there only 7 days, when I was paroled and sent to Richmond by way of Baltimore.”
Note: There is more about his travels
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 26, pages 116-118
“Our skirmishers soon cleared the woods in front of us, and our line rushed forward in the charge. With the litter bearers I was following them, when suddenly one of General Loring’s brigades came rushing back in confusion. They had attacked at a point where an osage orange hedge had been cut down, and its thorny branches formed an impenetrable abatis. They had been repulsed with heavy loss. As they streamed back General Loring was riding among them trying to rally them. He was commanding, exhorting, entreating, denouncing … but to no purpose, for the bullets were flying thick over and among them. Then … General Loring … turned his horse to face the enemy. He was in full uniform that glittered with golden adornments. His sword belt around him and the broad band across his shoulder and breast were gleaming in gold; his spurs were gilt; his sword and scabbard were polished to the utmost brightness; over his hat drooped a great dark plume of ostrich feathers. … He sat perfectly motionless, with his sword … lifted high above his head and glittering in the light of the sinking sun. As the bullets hissed about him thick as hail, he seemed to court or defy death. His face wore a look of grief and of scorn as he looked on the mass of fugitives, and he cried out in anguish: ‘Great God! Do I command cowards?’ … Then he galloped after them and, out of range of the enemy, reformed them. …
“The dead were piled up in the trenches almost to the top of the earthworks. I remember seeing a horse dead across the works. I was told that it was the horse of Gen. John Adams. … Near the ginhouse … I found my brother’s body. …
“The men seemed to realize that our charge on the enemy’s works would be attended with heavy slaughter, and several of them came to me bringing watches, jewelry, letters, and photographs, asking me to take charge of them and send them to their families if they were killed. I had to decline, as I was going with them and would be exposed to the same danger. It was vividly recalled to me the next morning, for I believe every one who made this request of me was killed. …
“After I had put my wounded in temporary quarters in various outhouses on Colonel McGavock’s place, I started out to get for them such comforts in clothing and delicacies as I could find.
“To understand my story, it will be necessary to describe my garb. Beginning at the top, I wore a hat of brown jeans quilted. … I had on a checked shirt that would not button at the throat. My jacket of cotton goods had a big round hole six inches wide made by a shell exploding over it as it lay on the ground. I had thrown it off so as to help a wounded comrade, and a fragment of the shell with a spark set it afire. My trousers hung from my knees to my ankles in ribbons. As we came into Tennessee there was some quite cold weather for a few days, and as we stood around our bivouac fires the wind often whipped the blaze about our legs and scorched our trousers into these ornamental fringes. My feet were incased in a pair of almost footless socks and a pair of shoes in which sole and body were held together by strings. …
“I soon found a house where a dozen ladies had gathered. They were busy rolling bandages and putting up packages of food. They were under the direction of an old lady of commanding manner, with a voice positive and strong. She wore a pair of specks, with glasses that looked like the headlights of a locomotive.
“I walked in, never thinking of my garb, but only of my boys. With my best bow I said to her: ‘Madam, I am looking for supplies for my wounded. I would be obliged for clothing, wines, cordials, things that a wounded man could eat.’
“She said: ‘Yes, you look like you needed these things yourself.’
“I said: ‘Madam, I don’t want them for myself. I have a great many wounded, and it is for them that I am seeking supplies.’
“She said: ‘O yes, but how am I to know that the wounded will ever get the supplies if we give them to you?’
“I then said: ‘Madam, I am the chaplain of Quarles’s Brigade, which suffered so greatly in the battle. I can assure you that the boys will get whatever you give me.’
“Again she said: ‘Yes, but how am I to know that your are a chaplain? Some of the boys that look like you are claiming to be major generals.’
“The ladies were tittering. I was confused and was just going to beat a retreat when I put my hand to my breast to make my bow more impressive, and I felt my commission, signed by the Secretary of War and with the great seal of the Confederacy. I at once drew it out and handed it to her, saying: ‘Madam, I am sorry that you should think I would deceive you in such a matter. Before I go will you look at my commission as chaplain?’
“That big red seal dazzled her like a sunburst, and her manner changed. She literally loaded me with all I had asked for. She followed me to the door, and in a whisper that could be heard a block away she said: ‘Preacher, I do hope you’ll excuse me; for if I had been looking for a preacher, you are the last man I would have picked out.’
“I thought so, too.”
Editor’s note: Two sources re Franklin; a third source lists men in the battery
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 7, page 272
“When … darkness … had spread … over the bloody field … , our artillery was moved up to pointblank range of the enemy’s works, with instructions to open fire on them at earliest daybreak. … A very short time before the firing was to commence, and the cannoneers were all at their guns, the order was countermanded, … I presumed it indicated that the enemy had evacuated Franklin.
“With permission I mounted my horse and started off to learn the situation, but I soon got in among the heap of slain, and it was with difficulty I could pick my way through them on horseback. … I recognized the body of Gen. (Patrick) Cleburne, who, so far, had been reported among the missing. There was not a sign of life anywhere, and the deathly silence was oppressive, I bent down, and as I looked into the marble features of our hero, our ideal soldier, my first thought was to have the body taken to a place of safety. …
“I still could see no living thing anywhere but my horse and a moving object in the distance in the shadows of the breastworks, and taking the chances that it was a friend I advanced, and found it was my dear friend, Dr. Markham. … He had an ambulance and two brave members of the ambulance corps. … As I came up they were in the act of lifting up the body of Gen. John Adams. … I told Dr. Markham that Gen. Cleburne had been killed, and his body lay upon the field, pointing in the direction, and asked him to come with me and take charge of it. We went together and put it in the ambulance beside Adams. …
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 10, page 155
“Adams’ horse was dead upon the works, with its front legs toward the inner side of the works. Adams’s body was lying outside, at the base of the works, when I helped pick it up. Cleburne’s body was not less than fifty or sixty yards from the works and on nearly a straight line from where Adams fell. This may appear strange, as the two Generals belonged to different divisions and different corps; but there were repeated charges made upon the works; when one command was repulsed another would be thrown forward.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 15, page 410.
Contains a list of names in Cowan’s Battery
Experiences and Recollections of R.B. Meadows, A Private in the Confederate Army, by Meadows; circa 1915
“Myself and my mess mate, Milton Gray, went out on the field, and found our beloved comrade and mess mate, Sargeant J.W. Sandlan. He with other members of our regiment had been gathered up and placed in an old cellar about four feet deep. The building over it had been moved away. It was just an old waste hole in the ground, and they were filling up the hole. We could see Sandlan’s blanket in places that were not covered up. Sandlan and Gray lived in Lawrence County, and I in Limestone County, Alabama. They were neighbor boys. I said to Gray, ‘You may live to get home and see Jim Sandlan’s wife, mother, and father. You would hate to have to tell them Jim was buried in an old cellar. If you will help me, we will take him out of that hole and dig a grave for him.’ He said he would do it. Down in the cellar I went and moved the dirt from over him with my hands. I got his head and Gray at his feet and took hold of the blanket he was wrapped in and dragged him up on the bank. We dug a grave by the side of him. … I unwrapped his blanket from around him and brushed the dirt all out of his hair and from off his face. We let him down in his grave, put his little haversack with some underwear in it under his head for a pillow, and wrapped him in his blanket again. While filling up his grave, Sargeant C.W. LeMay, of Company I, came along. We got him to cut J.W. Sandlan’s name on a piece of plank. We set it at the head of his grave. …
He says the headboard survived to identify Sandlan when the Confederate dead were moved to the McGavock family cemetery at Carnton.
“I know quite a number of our regiment were taken home for burial.” (That is, after the war)
Editor’s note: Two sources
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 5, page 600
“Gen. Thomas M. Scott, of Louisiana, … (I) and several other wounded officers of the staff and line, were quartered at the McGavock home after the battle. …
“Col. W.S. Nelson, of the Twelfth Louisiana, … lay dying, torn to pieces by a discharge of grape and canister at close range. … Both legs were crushed by a cannon ball and his bowels torn by iron grape. Poor fellow! Such agony for several hours few men ever endured. His eyes, through exhaustion caused by pain, sank deep back into his head. … ‘Give me forty rains of morphine!’ he called out all through the night. ‘Give me forty grains of morphine and let me die! Oh, can’t I die? My poor wife and child! My poor wife and child! … O M—! Can you not get the surgeons to administer some drug that will relieve me of this torture?’ I did try, though my appeals were in vain. … Cold perspiration gathered in knots on his brow, and, of course, (he) knew that death was inevitable. …
“Capt. Jones, from Grenada, Miss., … was lying on the floor. One of his thighs had been shattered by a cannon ball; the bone of the other had been laid bare by a like discharge. One of his arms was shattered and, as I recall it, one of his hands had been torn away. He was the worst wounded man I ever saw, except that no vital organs had been lacerated … At Capt. Jones’ side knelt Dr. George C. Phillips, of Lexington, Miss., the manly surgeon of the Twenty-Second Mississippi, ministering to his wounds. ‘Captain, it would subject you to useless pain to amputate your leg,’ said the tender-hearted young surgeon. ‘The wound is fatal, or would be by amputation.’
“ ‘You are right, Doctor,’ replied Capt. Jones; ‘but I don’t intend to have that leg cut off, and I don’t intend to die. I want to hold on to what is left of me. Why, bless your soul!’ he added, holding up his shattered hand, as a smile passed over his face, ‘There is enough left of me to make a first-class cavalryman.’ This was said in reference to the old joke which infantry soldiers good-naturedly were used to getting off on the brave riders of the Confederacy. … I have heard that his fractured leg grew together after a fashion.”
Editor’s note: I suspect the lamentation “O M—!” was “O Merde!” and I understand that is a French word for “shit.”
Carnton Plantation archives, “Fearful Franklin,” an undated article in the Nashville World re the agony of Col. W.S. Nelson:
“I went down the steps and far out beneath the silence of the stars to escape his piteous prayers.”
Carter House archives copy of transcript of “Sketch of Battle of Franklin,” Mintz’s memoir, published about 1918 in the Cleveland Star
“When our division took its position on the line, Gen. Cleburne’s order was for the men to load, fix bayonets, and carry their pieces at right shoulder shift, and not stop to fire a shot but move on in quick time and attack … with the bayonet. … In case the Yankees would leave the (first line of) works the Confederates (were) to discharge their pieces into the … retreating Yankees, rush to the evacuated works and reform our line.
“Waiting for the rest of the troops to take their place in line … , I walked to the crest of the highlands where I could see the ground over which we had to pass. In front of it was open land and mostly level. We had to pass through a stalk field first, then it seemed to be a stubble field to the Yankees’ line.
“The sun looked red and was sinking behind the western hills. I walked hurriedly back to rejoin my company before the advance order was given. …
“The … bugler sounded the forward command. Our colonel gave the command – ‘Right shoulder, shift arms. Forward. Quick time. March.’ On we went up the hill. When we reached the cleared land the command ‘Right dress’ was given. … The line seemed in perfect order. I could see the line the full , lengths of our division … the men … keeping in step, bayonets fixed, carrying their pieces at right shoulder shift. …
“Soon as we came in range of the Yankees opened fire on us from behind their entrenchments and were first killing and wounded our men. My color bearer was shot and the flag fell. … Col. V.P. Greene … grasped the flag staff and said … , ‘Damn, I’ll carry the flag. Look after your own company.’ Col. Greene carried the flag through the fight without a scratch. They were killing and wounding our men so fast from the breast-works the order ‘Charge!’ was given. We raised the Rebel Yell and moved in double quick time but before we reached the works the Yankees fled in disorder.
“Our boys emptied their … guns into the … fleeing troops and rushed to the … works to reform our line. Just then I noticed General Cleburne on a little gray horse that belonged to one of his couriers. Cleburne’s horse (had been) shot from under him. … (Cleburne), with hat in hand and waving it above his head, scaled the works. … I could not hear what he was saying, but knew he meant to go forward. … Again we raised the Rebel Yell and renewed the charge to storm the enemy’s last line of works.
“In our front was an obstruction of brush and stakes. … I saw a break in it (and turned) to the left to pass through. … Just at that instant a sheet of flame and smoke rose from … the … breastworks and … I (was) … shot, the ball entering the outer corner of the right eye, passing through the left eyeball and fracturing the left cheek. …
“When I regained consciousness, I was lying in a ditch … of running water, (and) could feel the loose dirt fall in on me when the Yankee bullets would strike the top of the ditch-bank. … I became thirsty, but had fallen on my canteen, but could not get to it. I drank of the water in the ditch. The water was cold and good. … I … knew then my sight was destroyed. I placed my hands under my forehead to keep my face above water. … I fell asleep, and did not awake till aroused by the jar and heavy report of the artillery.
“I heard a man moaning in the ditch below me. I asked him who held the battlefield. He said, ‘We hold the field, and that is our artillery firing after the retreating Yankees.’ … As well as he could judge from the stars it was then about two o’clock.
“I could hear the wounded calling for help in every direction. I again wanted water and thought I would again drink of the water in the ditch, but this time it tasted of blood and I managed to get my canteen from under me and drank from it
“About one hour before daylight a man passed near me. I spoke to him, and he very kindly helped me out of the ditch. He was a Georgian and belonged to Stovall’s Brigade. (He) said they had good fires about 200 yards down the pike and if I could walk he would assist me to a fire.
“The next day I was taken to a private house, where I remained till I was sent to Fort Delaware, the latter part of January, 1865. …
“All the churches and vacant houses in Franklin were converted into hospitals, but could not accommodate near all the wounded. The remainder were cared for in cloth tents.”
Carter House archives photocopies of typed transcript that is not identified. The first sheet is headed EXPERIENCE FOLLOWING THE BATTLE OF NASHVILLE
“I went into the battle of Franklin with the Twentieth Tennessee regiment and remained through the entire battle looking after the wounded. On the morning following the battle, just a little before day, after the yankees had fallen back, I met Col. Shy on the battle field; and he seemed surprised to see me still living and said: ‘I didn’t expect to see your alive this morning.’ And I said to him, ‘How is it with you Colonel. I see you are still here,’ and he replied: ‘The Yankee bullet was never moulded to kill me’, and said further to me, ‘As soon as you are through here, go home and get you some clothes and when you hear where the regiment forms you can come to us.’
“I then went on aiding and looking after the wounded then on the battle field, among the number being ‘Tod’ Carter, who was wounded between the lines of the contending forces and had lain where he was wounded, late the preceeding evening, until the early morning, it being impossible for us to get to him during the night. After we had carried Carter into his father’s house, he being wounded close to his father’s garden while trying to lead his Command over the Yankee breastworks, which breastworks ran through said garden.
“I made two attempts to get through the lines during the night to get to the body of Carter, but our front line would not let me pass, giving as a reason, if I got in between the lines it would attract the attention of the enemy who were just in front of us, and cause them to fire on us and probably kill a large number of our men. … As early as we could we carried Carter into the house and also four others who were wounded on the battlefield. After doing this, and performing other duties that were necessary to be done, I went home, as instructed by Colonel Shy, got such clothing as I could. …
“During the battle of Franklin I wore the jacket of Colonel Shy, he having given me the same between Franklin and Spring Hill under the following conditions: He, Colonel Shy, came riding down the line and saw me in my shirt sleeves in line and said to me, ‘What are you doing here in your shirt-sleeves’? and I said to him, ‘I got my jacket burned up last night’, and he said ‘you go back to the wagon-train’, and I said, ‘Colonel, that would do no good; I would still be in my shirt-sleeves’; he then dismounted, pulled off his large coat and also his small coat or jacket, and handed the jacket to me saying: ‘If you insist in staying in the line, put this jacket on; no man like you shall be without a coat while I have two’. Thus it was that I wore the Colonel’s jacket into and through the battle of Franklin, and wore it home as per instruction of the Colonel, where I got some better clothes afterwards, together with comrade Jim Cooper, reported to the Command and went into the battle of Nashville in my old capacity in charge of the litter bearer, it being my duty to see that the wounded were properly cared for and carried off the field of battle.”
Editor’s note: Three sources
Typed transcript of letter written Dec. 6, 1864, while in camp near Nashville, and published in the Sept. 12, 1913, edition of Western Enterprise, in Anson, Jones County, Texas. Copy provided by Paul Petree, Fort Worth, Texas.
Writing to his sister, Mrs. Margaret Munroe, about the death of their brother William:
“He was killed the night of the 30th of November. … We had charged and taken one line of the enemy’s breastworks, when they fell back to another line about 40 yards in rear; the order was given to charge, when William, Bud and myself and Robt. Street was all of our Company that crossed the breastworks. We crossed over into the ditch, and seeing that no person else was coming, we was obliged to sit down in the ditch to protect ourselves, but the ditch was not deep enough to shelter us. He was struck just under the right eye, the ball ranging down and coming out between his shoulders. He did not speak after he was shot. I did not know he was killed for some time after it was done. Our color bearer was the only man between me and him, but it was very dark and I could not see. After it was done, I set in the ditch and shot for some time. I then crawled back across the breastworks, when I met up with Bud, and he told me of it. As soon as I could, I crawled back to where he was and straightened him out. I got all of his things, that I could carry. This was done about midnight, and we buried him the next day about 10 o’clock. We did the best for him that we could. …
He describes how the battle opened and progressed
“We came up about two hours by sun on the evening of the 30th Nov. The line was formed in a few minutes. Bates’ Division, French’s Division and Cleburne’s Division led the way. Our Division was to support Bates’. We drove them from one line of works and had charged them in the second line, but his ammunition being exhausted, we was ordered up to take his place. We rushed upon them and drove them from their position. It was then that William was killed. We lay there and fought them about two hours, when they took advantage of the darkness and withdrew their forces in the direction of Nashville. …
“We lay there until the 2nd day of Dec., when we moved up and formed around Nashville. We have very good works here. I think if we fight here, we will do it in our own way. The Yanks are shelling us all the time, but are doing no damage.
“We are living very well at the present time, getting plenty of pork and bread, turnips and cabbage. This is undoubtedly the best country I ever saw. The people live better here than thy ever did in our country.
“I forgot to say that William Harrell was wounded slightly in the hand. Powell Smith was wounded in the hip, but not severe, William Lowery in the hand. Our Regiment lost only one killed and thirteen wounded.
“Margaret, I want you all to pray for us. I now feel the need of your prayers more than ever before. Pray that we may be spared to return home in peace and enjoy the sweet society of our father and sisters.”
From a typed transcript of a letter dated Jan. 25, 1925, written from Anson, Texas, to his niece, Mrs. Claudia Hefley, in Bessemer, Ala. The transcript was provided by Paul Petree, Fort Worth, Texas.
He gives more information about the burial of his brother, William, the day after the battle
“The next morning when preparations were being made to bury the dead I went to my captain and got permission to bury him in a separate grave. I got Wm. Little to help Bud and myself dig the grave off fifty or more yards from the ditch they were digging for the other dead; we wrapped the body in his blanket and layed him away. I got a piece of pine plank and cut his name, company and regiment on it; also the name and number of the Masonic Lodge to which he belonged and planted it at the head of the grave.
“On our retreat from Nashville in December I went out to the grave and there was a nice rail pen built around it. This was the only battle of any note that he fought in.”
Editor’s note: A photo of Calvin J.C. Munroe is posted on the Monroe Genealogy of Cumberland, Moore and Roberson County website. He is seated, with legs crossed, his canteen in his lap, and his left hand holding a rifle, with its butt on the ground or floor.
From a typed transcript of a letter dated Feb. 3, 1926, written from Anson, Texas, to his niece, Mrs. Claudia Hefley; copied March 27, 2002, from the Monroe Genealogy of Cumberland, Moore and Roberson County Web site.
He comments on the rail pen found around the grave of his brother, William:
“I suppose it was done by the Masonic fraternity, as I put his name and the number of the lodge to which he belonged on a board at the grave.”
Murphey Diary #534; in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. Transcribed from microfilm
“I was captured in the conclusion of the battle at Franklin Tenn Nov 30th 1864 about 7 P.M. … (I) was in the front line and remained in the thickest of this grand terrific combat for two hours. When our line was shattered and disunited by the heavy musketry which poured into us, I sought shelter under the cover of the works, and sat down at the mouth of an embrasure. With a few comrades we soon rendered their artillery useless and superfluous. They were shotted and men more bold and audacious than cautious or discreet advanced with lighted primers to fire them, but fell to rise no more. Finally when our cartridges were exhausted and our men were robbing a dead Yankee of an additional supply the Yanks succeeded by violent exertions in running back one piece and their not being able to elevate or aim it fired it directly through the works. Huge fragments of timber was vomited forth, particles of earth literally covered us limbs were wrenched from their stems and nine of our men swept unheralded into eternity. To remain in this … dangerous position was worse than death. The fire measurably slackened and organizing the surviving men, a bold effort was made to enter, capture and drive the defenders from their position. Forward was the word and the men bounded over like infuriated demons and were … either shot down on the summit of the works or were … transfixed on bayonets. The conflict was brief bloody and decisive. I was a prisoner. …
“I was conducted by my captor Capt Crozier to the presence of Col Rousseau 16th Kentucky Infantry and placed under guard in rear of the position we had assailed. I immediately experienced a sense of loneliness despondency. … Capt Crozier treated me with great politeness and respect – as did Col Rousseau – inquired after his brother Maj Crozier 4th Kentucky CSA complimented our courage in the most extravagant style and blasphemed the cowardly Ohians for abandoning in fright their position, guns & colors. …
“After remaining stationary an hour in the cold, thinly clad I was conducted thru mud and water – by Capt C – to the Hdqtrs of Gen Riley. A mounted orderly was at the door of a handsome brick residence and in answer to Capt C inquiries said ‘Gen R was out on the field.’ ‘Yes’ said Capt C – ‘after the battle is over.’ Although almost inaudible this sarcasm did not pass my ear unheeded. I then accompanied him down in to the town of Franklin and after many fruitless inquiries for some general officer, I was turned over to a drunken boisterous Lt Colonel who was rude and garrulous but vigilant and friendly. … After walking a mile besieged with innumerable questions we reached the Hdqrs of Gen Schofield the commander of that army. An immense number of Staff officers orderlies and messengers chatting talking and hurrying to & fro were in the front yard of the house. I was elbowed through them by my indefatigable chaperon, entered the house and was ushered into a room full of officers with the announcement ‘Rebel Col Murphey.’ I was the cynosure of all eyes but endeavored to maintain a proud mien & calm composure. Black begrimed with powder, my clothes tattered … , my hair disheveled, my face pale, and shivering with cold, I was in a bad plight for inspection by critical eyes. A coat was tendered me and accepted. I gave them when interrogated my name regt corps. …
“An elderly officer with evident complacency and self-congratulation made among other observations the following: ‘Col you have suffered severely – referring to the battle – Hood has had another killing. He is a butcher and his men have the courage to respond to his demands. You cannot do us a greater favor than retain him in command. You have dishonored and ostracized an able crafty strategist and a perfect master of the art of war and placed in command a reckless bold and gallant soldier without discretion.
“ ‘ I was in a perilous position last night and if attacked at Spring Hill the army would have been … annihilated. It was a critical moment. Your campfires were in plain view as we passed on the pike and we anticipated momentarily a volley of musketry. You cannot imagine my relief when the army passed by safe and no attack was made.’
“I explained that a grave responsibility rested upon the General who failed to make the attack as we knew our advantage and Hood had ordered the attack. That my government had placed Hood in command and as such I yielded to him my confidence and cordial co-operation. It was fortunate that he pleased both parties. That in his ‘killings’ there was always a considerable mixture of our enemies.
“ ‘Col your loss here must be 5 or 6,000.’
“ ‘No sir I think abut half. Hood has captured more prisoners.’
“ ‘No Col I have lost but few prisoners.’ …
“The conversation continued several minutes longer. … The officer was in buoyant spirits & felt that his conceptions had been masterly, his maneuvers adroit and successful and his general management brilliant. …
“The indications were apparent and palpable that orders were issued for retreat upon Nashville and I ????? him with the laconic remark that victors usually held the field not the vanquished. He said he was wooing Hood to his destruction. I was tendered and accepted a glass of whiskey, which stimulated and invigorated my exhausted condition and then turned over to the tender mercies of the Provost Marshall. He informed me that the officer with whom I was conversing was Maj Gen Schofield.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 11, page 274
“I saw in the CONFEDERATE VETERAN of March, 1903, a communication from Mr. Roland Gooch, Royse City, Tex., in which he asks for news of a lad who scaled the works at the battle of Franklin, Tenn., near the cotton gin. I am pleased to inform the gentleman.
“At that memorable battle Col. Elijah Gates’s Missouri Regiment covered that part of the works where stood the cotton gin. In the charge upon that almost impregnable place, Company H, Capt. Burns’s, to which the lad belonged, covered the location of the gin. In our charge across the open field we were cut up so badly that when we reached the breastworks we not strong enough to take them.
“Nevertheless, the battle raged fiercely right across the works. We fought with pick, shovel, musket, and saber, thinking to dislodge the Federals. In this terrible onslaught of Gates’s indomitable heroes, the lad under review scaled the works, with his rifle in club musket form, endeavoring to beat down his assailants; but they laid hold on him, drawing him across to their side, during which time a ball struck his left arm near the shoulder, shattering it very badly. When in the midst of the enemy, some wanted to run him through with the bayonet, but one more humane took charge of him and gave him protection. This man, seeing he was only a boy and badly wounded, took his own blankets and spread them upon the ground beside the cotton gin and placed the lad upon them. After the battle was over I sought the lad, who was my brother, four years my junior. I found him as above stated, took him to the hospital, and cared for him until the army fell back from Nashville. Being appointed hospital steward, I remained behind to care for the wounded. There we fell into the hands of the enemy, were moved to Nashville, and placed in the ‘Zollicoffer Barracks.’ From there the lad was taken to Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, where he was kept until May, when he was paroled and sent back to Missouri.
“On his arrival in Missouri a gang of jayhawkers conferred with a view to forcing him to leave the State. The wife of the leader of the mob prevailed on them not to do so, telling them that if they did so ‘some would surely be killed, as they well knew who they would face.’ That night he slept with two good revolvers by his side; and if he had been molested, as sure as fate some of them would never have returned.
“The next morning the lad started to Fremont County, Ia., a southwest county of the State, which was at that time called ‘Rebel Heaven,’ being mostly settled by Southern people who had been run out of Missouri during the war. He went to school there. In the fall of 1872 he married a lady of old Virginia blood.
“The next spring he moved to Colorado, and soon afterwards he lost his wife. In 1874 he located in Graham County, Ariz., where he has since lived, a law-abiding, honored citizen. As County Treasurer he has served the people, and as a citizen he is honored and esteemed by all who know him.
“At the battle of Franklin my brother, Thomas Jefferson Neese, was about seventeen years old. A good likeness of him, which was taken about two years after the close of the war, accompanies this sketch.”
NOTE: See Roland Gooch, 42nd Tennessee.
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 9, page 17
“When we reached the first line of breastworks, the men seemed to think the trouble was over, and fell down to avoid the bullets. The command ‘Forward!’ was given, but the men did not go. I climbed on top of the breastworks and repeated the command several times without effect, and, seeing the line on my right going forward, I hastened to attach myself to it.
“On reaching the second line of the works, in which the Federals were standing and firing with all the rapidity possible, I fell down behind it and ceased to be an actor in the great tragedy of war. … For more than an hour two lines of men fought with but a pile of dirt between them. In firing, the muzzles of the guns would pass each other, and nine times out of ten, when a man rose to fire, he fell back dead.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 14, pages 261-262.
“Dr. Wall, surgeon of the 33rd Mississippi Regiment, who always worked with me at the field hospital, proposed that we ride to the top of the hill and see the battle; and we did so. … The Confederate army just below us was passing along the (Columbia) pike, one part filing to the right, the other to the left at the foot of the hill. …
“Our forces advanced in three lines of battle, apparently about three hundred yards apart. Our bands played ‘Dixie,’ ‘Bonnie Blue Flag’ and ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me.’ This was the first and only time I ever heard our bands playing upon a battlefield and at the beginning of a charge.”
Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee, Being His Story of the War (1861-1865), edited by the Rev. Arthur Howard Noll; 1905
“Captain Gibson, General Adams’ aid and Brigade Inspector, although badly wounded, accompanied the body of his commander to the residence of the General’s brother, Major Nathan Adams, in Pulaski. I officiated at the funeral and his mortal remains were placed in the cemetery by the side of those of his father and mother. …
“I went back to Columbia, hired a negro to make some plain coffins, helped him to put them into a wagon, drove with him about sixteen miles, and buried these brave men, – Strahl, Gist and Granberry, – under the shadow of the ivy-mantled tower of St. John’s Church, Ashwood, – with the services of the Church. Then I returned to the field.
“Major-General John C. Brown, General George Gordon [this is an error; Gordon was captured], and General Carter were seriously wounded, – the last named, mortally. After ministering to these and many another, I returned to Columbia to the hospital in the Columbia Institute. Here I found Captain William Flournoy and Adjutant McKinney of the First Tennessee Regiment, both severely wounded. There were hundreds of wounded in the Institute.
“I buried Major-General Cleburne from the residence of Mrs. William Polk. A military escort was furnished by Captain Long and every token of respect was shown to the memory of the glorious dead. … Returning to Columbia, I met Captain Stepleton and through him paid the burial expenses of my dear friend, John Marsh, – three hundred dollars. …
“While in Columbia I sent wagons down to the Webster settlement to procure supplies for our wounded at Franklin. Having visited the sick and wounded in the hospitals at Columbia, I went with Captain Stepleton towards Franklin. I reached the house of Mr. Harrison, about three miles from Franklin, at dark, and stopped to see my friends, General Carter, General Quarles, Captain Tom Henry, and Captain Matt Pilcher. Captain Pilcher was shot in the side. Captain Henry was wounded slightly in the head. Both were doing well. General Quarles had his left arm shattered. General Carter was shot through the body and his wound was mortal. I knelt by the side of the wounded and commended them to God. I had prayers with the family before retiring. All that night we could hear the guns around Nashville very distinctly. …
“The following day was the Second Sunday in Advent, December 4th. I rode to Franklin to see Dr. Buist, the Post Surgeon. All along the way were abundant marks of the terrific battle, – dead horses and burnt wagons, – but at the line of the breastworks near Mr. Carter’s house, where the heaviest fighting was done, there was a great number of horses piled almost one upon another. …
“Returning to Mr. Harrison’s house with Dr. Buist, who went down to attend to the wounded, I visited them all and had prayers with them. The Doctor and myself returned to Franklin in the evening and William Clouston called and took me to his house for the night.
“There I found General Cockrill of Missouri, wounded in the legs and in the right arm but full of life and very cheerful. Lieutenant Anderson, one of his staff, who had lost a part of one foot at Vicksburg, was now wounded in the other. Captain John Hickey, in command of a company in a Missouri regiment, while charging the main lines of the works just in front of the cotton gin, was desperately wounded, his leg being shattered. He fell into the mud and while in this deplorable condition, his left arm was badly broken by a minnie ball and soon afterwards he was shot in the shoulder. … He lay upon the field of battle for fifteen hours, without food, water or shelter, in the freezing cold, and half of that time exposed to the plunging shot and shell of both friend and foe.
“I devoted my time while in Franklin, to visiting the hospitals, in one room of Brown’s Division hospital, in the Court House, I dressed a goodly number of wounds, after which I went to visit General Cockrill and thence to army headquarters at the residence of John Overton (near Nashville). …
“On Wednesday, I rode with Governor Harris to Franklin and thence to Mr. Harrison’s, to be with General C. Carter, who was nearing his end. I found General Quarles and Captain Pilcher doing well. Major Dunlap was also improving. Lieutenant-Colonel Jones of the Twenty-fourth South Carolina, however, was not doing so well, having had a profuse hemorrhage.
“On visiting General Carter, I read a short passage of Holy Scripture and had prayers with him. … In his lucid moments my conversation with him was exceedingly interesting. But his paroxysms of pain were frequent and intense and he craved for chloroform and it was freely administered to him. He could not be convinced that he was going to die. ‘But,’ I said, ‘General, if you should die, what do you wish me to say t0 your wife?’ ‘Tell her,’ he replied, ‘that I have always loved her devotedly and regret leaving her more than I can express.’
“I had prayers with all the wounded and with the family of Mr. Harrison, and sat up with General Carter until half past twelve o’clock. Lieutenant-colonel Jones died some time in the night. General Carter died the following Saturday. I wrote to the Rev. Pise at Columbia to attend his funeral as his body was to be taken there for temporary burial. It was bitterly cold and the road were very slippery. …
Quintard returns to army headquarters at the Overtons. He leaves on the Tuesday after Carter’s death:
“I left headquarters the following day in Dr. Foard’s ambulance for Franklin and on the way picked up a couple of wounded men and carried them to the hospital. … I spent the evening at Mrs. Carter’s [does he mean Sallie Carter Gaut???] with my friends, Colonel Rice and Captain Tom Henry. The next day I made efforts to purchase shoes for my family. The merchants had hidden their goods and were unwilling to dispose of them for Confederate money. But by offering to pay in greenbacks, I not only secured shoes but all sorts of goods.
“Meeting Captain Kelly, of the Rock City Guard, then off duty in consequence of wounds received in the recent battle, I proposed to him to go to Georgia for clothing for the soldiers. To this he agreed and we left for Columbia. While there I attended a meeting of the ladies, the object of which was to organize a Relief Association.
“Distressing reports began to come in of a reverse to our arms at Nashville. At first I did not credit them, but later I met Colonel Harvie, the Inspector General, who not only confirmed the very worst of the reports, but expressed both indignation and disgust at the conduct of our troops.”
Memoirs of a Confederate Staff Officer from Bethel to Bentonville, Evelyn Sieburg and James E. Hansen II; 1999
“After the firing had ceased, about midnight, I was sent along our corps front with orders from General Lee to the Brigadiers and Major-Generals to get ready for a renewal of the fight at daylight. … I found General Brantley, who had commanded a Mississippi brigade, sitting almost stupefied on the ground near the line of battle. I gave him the order, but he seemed not to hear me. I put my hand on his shoulder and tried to rouse him, repeating the instructions for his brigade. He mumbled, ‘I have no brigade.’ I asked him where the men were, and he replied, ‘They’re all dead.’ I said, ‘Surely not all,’ and added that if he did not make some effort to get his men together, I would be compelled to report it to General Lee. He roused himself then and said, ‘I’ll see if there are any left.’ … The next morning he had gathered up about two hundred men – all that remained of a whole brigade that went into the fight.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 30, page 288
“I tried hard to keep a level head, but scarcely knew what to do. I was close up to the breastworks when the thought occurred to me that there was more danger in returning, so I continued until I fell in to the big long ditch outside the breastworks. I then got up to the works so that the Yankees could not bring their pieces to bear upon me. … I stuck hard and fast to my position. The ditch was … full of men, dead, living, and wounded. If I ever prayed earnestly in my life it was then. It seemed to me that the Federals had concluded to kill every man in that ditch. They began enfilading us and to shoot us in every way they could. …
“It was the happiest time of my life when I was finally able to get out from under that pile of dead and wounded men. … A fierce gale was blowing, and it was freezing cold. I was stiff and could hardly walk. Looking over the breastworks, I saw an old ginhouse and a dead Confederate general just in front of me. Of course, the Federals had retreated. I was a little dazed and began looking about. It seemed to be dark, very dark. Soon I began to see lights appear, and the battle field began to show signs of life; little fires were started here and there, a few lanterns began to shine, and a few people began to move around. Finally there were many persons visible, and very soon thereafter the citizens of Franklin, including the women and children, were on the battle field seeking relatives who had fallen. I myself sought a friendly fire. …
“We collected all those dead heroes and buried them … in long trenches on either side of the Franklin and Columbia Pikes.”
A History of the Henry County Commands which Served in the Confederate States Army, by Lt. Edwin H. Rennolds, Co. K, Fifth Tennessee Infantry; 1904
“The long lines of infantry moved steadily and grandly forward through the open fields. … The band of the Fifth struck up ‘Dixie,’ and one of Cleburne’s the ‘Bonnie Blue Flag,’ and for once, and only once, we went into battle cheered by the sound of martial music. It was the grandest sight I ever beheld.
“A battery went galloping up the pike, and, turning aside, unlimbered on a little knoll and opened fire, as the infantry passed, limbering up and advancing again.
“The enemy’s main line was posted in substantial breastworks, which circled around the edge of the town, reaching from the Harpeth River above to the river below. Four or five hundred yards in front of this was a line of advanced works, extending for some distance to the left of the pike, and occupied by a line of infantry. These opened fire on our front line as soon as it came within range. Cheatham’s first line hardly took time to return the fire, but raised the ‘rebel yell’ and charged at double-quick. When the Federals saw them nearing the rifle pits without any sign of halting, they abandoned their defenses and fled toward the second line of intrenchments. Soon after we passed the first line of rifle pits, Capt. B.F. Peeples said … ‘Look how thick the Yankees are coming.’ I replied: ‘But they are unarmed, Captain.’ He took a second look, and said, ‘That’s so.’ The charging Tennesseans had overtaken many of them, demanded their surrender, ordered them to throw down their arms and started them to the rear. The fear of being killed or wounded by the fire of their own men lent wings to their feet, and they rushed through our ranks wherever they could find an opening.
“By this time our lines had become broken, and the men rushed onward regardless of order, converging toward the pike till they became solid masses, all anxious to reach, as soon as possible, the breastworks, where their comrades were engaged in hand-to-hand fight. The first men of our front line reached the works, and fought their foes across them, others reaching the ditch in front scrambled across it, and fell down exhausted and out of breath. Others, as they came up, followed their example, till they soon extended several yards wide along the outer side of the works.
“When the Federals saw the second line of Confederates – or, more properly, masses of men – approaching, they abandoned the position in our immediate front. Ensign … Flowers of the Fourth mounted the parapet and waved his flag. W.D. Street, Seth Speight, Jeff Olive and a few others of the bravest spirits crossed the entrenchment and advanced a few yards, but finding themselves surrounded by Federals and facing a deadly hail of mini balls they retired behind the entrenchment, but kept up a fire on the enemy. In vain did the officers urge their men to cross the breastworks; they were too nearly exhausted and the fire was too deadly. …
“Just across the pike, about thirty yards away, the works obliqued slightly to the front, and just in their rear stood a large cotton gin. A heavy force of Federals was posted in this building, thus making the strength of the defending force much greater here than elsewhere. The heavy firing from both the works and cotton gin, supplemented by a battery, rendered it utterly impossible for Cleburne’s division to carry the position. … Many … went down before the murderous fire, grape and canister. … Those who escaped finally retired. This heavy force then turned their fire upon Cheatham’s Division, across the pike. Those who were nearest the works fired at the Federals wherever seen and passed their guns back to their comrades to be reloaded. General Strahl and other officers assisted in passing the guns back and forth. General Strahl was severely wounded, and while some of his men were trying to remove him, was struck in the head by a minnie ball and killed. …
“For three or four hours the brave men of Cheatham’s Division fought in the face of death. Seeing their comrades killed or wounded in great numbers, those that had escaped the deadly fire began, singly and in groups to seek safety in the rear, until after awhile most of them were gone.
“When … (I) saw that all the men able to travel, on (my) … right, front and rear, and many to (my) … left, were gone, (I), too thought it time to seek safety in flight. The enemy in and around the cotton gin were firing heavy volleys at every man, and group of men, whom they could discern in the smoky moonlight. Watching for a lull in the firing, I started at a rapid gait, but had not gone more than fifty yards before one of the heaviest volleys was fired, and the whizzing of balls flew thicker than I had ever heard them. My speed was increased to the highest possible limit, but several more volleys were fired before reaching the enemy’s first line of works, to say nothing of the continued whirr of minnies in lesser numbers. Reaching the rifle pits, I fell over the embankment utterly exhausted. …
“The enemy evacuated the works and town before morning, and retired to Nashville. …
“Next morning we found the dead lying so thick that we could have walked on them without stepping on the ground a sight I never saw elsewhere. … (I was) the only one of (my) … company present for duty. …
“We spent the day after the battle in burying the dead and caring for the wounded. On the second day we buried the Federal dead, and at 9 a.m. took up our line of march toward Nashville, marching seventeen miles.”
“Field and Temporary Hospitals,” by Deering J. Roberts, surgeon, Confederate States Army, The Photographic History of the Civil War, Francis T. Miller, editor in chief; Vol. 7, pages 256-264; 1911
“On the morning of December 1, 1864, I received orders to go to Franklin, Tennessee, and make arrangements for the wounded of General Bate’s division. I did so, taking with me my hospital steward, a detail of ten men, and two wagons.
“I found an old carriage- and wagon-shop about sixty by one hundred feet, two stories high. It had a good roof, plenty of windows above and below, an incline leading up to the upper floor on the outside, and a good well. This I immediately placarded ‘Bate’s Division hospital,’ and put part of the detail to work cleaning out the work-benches, old lumber and other debris.
“Further up the same street, I found an unoccupied brick store, two stories high, eighty by twenty feet, and, on the corner of the square, the Chancery Court room, about forty feet square, both of which I took possession of, and put the remainder of the detail at work cleaning out the counters, shelving, empty boxes and barrels from the one, and the desk, rostrum, and benches from the other, sending the wagons into the country for clean straw.
“Two assistant surgeons with additional detailed men reported to me and all worked diligently, so that, by the middle of the afternoon, the buildings were fairly well cleaned … and each floor was soon covered with clean wheat-straw ten or twelve inches deep; and before midnight all the wounded were transferred from the field hospital. …
“Several carpenters in my detail were put to work constructing rough bunks of such lumber as could be found, placing in them the more severely wounded. By the end of my first week’s service, I had permitted about one-third of the wounded to take up their quarters in the residences of willing citizens of the town and immediate vicinity. Those who could do so were required to report at the hospital every day, or on alternate days; one of the assistant surgeons or myself visited, from time to time, such as could not walk to the hospital. …
“In my hospital … only seven men died; two from abdominal wounds, three from gunshot wounds in the head, one with amputation of thigh, and one who refused to submit to amputation … after the nature of his case had been fully explained to him. Despite all arguments and reasoning, this man refused amputation, was greatly depressed and despondent from the first, and died on December 23d, as I had expected, from gunshot injury to forearm complicated by nostalgia and despondency in an old man. …
“The shattering, splintering, and splitting of a long bone by the impact of the minie or Enfield ball were, in many instances, both remarkable and frightful, and early experience (had) taught surgeons that amputation was the only means of saving life. … Wounds in the abdomen were nearly always fatal … (because) the intestines … were generally perforated. … In wounds of the chest, … the … swiftly moving conical ball often produced a clean-cut wound.
“On December 25, 1864, my associates and myself, with the wounded of Bate’s division, were all moved to Nashville, and placed in the large building on South College Street, … where I, as the ranking surgeon, assumed charge of the twelve hundred wounded there assembled from the battlefields of Franklin and Nashville.”
Editor’s note: Dr. Roberts was summoned to the Carter House to tend mortally wounded Tod Carter; see Alice M. Nichol. See Col. M.D.L. Stephens re dispute over aputating the colonel’s leg.
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, edited by Mamie Yeary; 1912
“Most of our commanding officers had been killed or wounded, and we did not know who was in command.
“When we took their breastworks our color bearer stuck his flag staff in the top of the works and Company C, Ninety-seventh Ohio Regiment, tried to take the flag from him. After firing three rounds, they lay down in the ditches, and we would get the guns of the wounded men, put the bayonets on them and pitch them point foremost on them. Then we pushed the logs from the top of the works, which were from ten to twelve inches thick, onto them. They remained in the ditch till we started to charge their second line, and when we jumped into the ditches we took them prisoners.”
Note: 97th Ohio was in Lane’s Brigade
Carter House archives
“The … morning after the battle I was detailed to help bury the dead. … In places the dead were piled upon each other three and four deep. Sometimes we would find a poor wounded comrade pinned down by several dead comrades lying on him. … We dug trenches two and one half feet deep and wide enough for two to lay side by side. A piece of oil cloth or blanket was spread over their faces and covered up. Every one that could be identified a small piece of plank was placed on their head with their names on it.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 15, pages 125-126
“We were from a half to a mile in advance … (and) soon advanced to the top of a high, rocky hill about a thousand or twelve hundred yards south of Franklin and on the west of the turnpike, which is known as Merrill’s or Murrell’s Hill. Here we had a fine view of the Federal works and the open field in front of them, but not a Federal could be seen.
“While waiting, Gen. Pat Cleburne rode up to where we were standing and remarked that he had left his field glasses behind and that he wished the use of a telescope. Lieutenant Ozanne … quickly detached the long telescope from his gun, adjusted the focus, and handed it to General Cleburne, who laid the telescope across a stump and looked long and carefully over the field, and remarked, ‘They have three lines of works,’ and then, sweeping the field again as if to make himself certain, said, ‘and they are all completed.’ He then returned the telescope, thanked Lieutenant Ozanne for its use, and with kindling eye and rapid movement mounted his horse and rode rapidly back to where his division was forming. …
“There was the boom of a Napoleon gun near the Carter residence and the swish, swish of a shell high up overhead. Soon another and another gun opened until each one of us had a battery all to ourselves. We were firing at the gunners as best we could, when I saw them running out a big gun by hand down the turnpike toward us. It soon turned off the road to the southeast, and I saw that it was making straight for a knoll about four hundred yards south of the old gin house and about two hundred yards east of the pike and in nearly half a mile from my position, which was in a rock quarry on the northeast apex of the hill.
“Lieutenant (John M.) Ozanne was on top of the hill above me and the other three men to his left. I called out: ‘Lieutenant, do you see those Yankees running that gun out yonder to my right?’ He replied: ‘Yes; and do you direct your fire on it and drive it back.’ … Soon the little elevation was reached, the gun charged, and Gunner Henry Fox stepped to his position to sight the gun, but I was in time for him and shot him in the shoulder. As soon as I could load and look Jake Holderman was sighting the gun, and I wounded him; next John Delph tried it, and I got him.
“While loading and looking at my gun their fourth gunner, Burrell Dunn, aimed the gun at me, and the shell struck the pile of beat-up road rock that I was behind and exploded within a few feet of my face with a terrific force, which knocked a bushel or so of the rocks over my head and all over the top of the hill. I was enveloped in smoke, dust, and small gravel, and was nearly knocked off my feet. Lieutenant Ozanne called out: ‘Are you hurt, Ike?’ I replied: ‘No, not hurt, but scared.’
“In a few moments I got over my fright and shot at Dunn, but missed him. I reloaded, took careful aim, and fired again, when I saw him reel. Soon they started back to their works with the gun. Thus at about half a mile distance at five shots I disabled four gunners and drove a gun to the rear, which, if it had not been molested, must have killed scores of Cleburne’s Division.
“This was gun No. 1 of Company A, Captain Catron of the 2d Regiment Missouri Artillery. This specific information was … given to me by First Gunner Henry Fox’s brother, who lives at Goodlettsville, my post office. …
“I found out that one Dobe White had been trading with the Yankees, and that there was perhaps a lot of contraband articles in his house. … I told (Lt. Col. C.S. Hunt), and he detailed the detachment to search the premises. It was hastily mustered, and down to Dobe White’s we went. … I knocked at the door, and a tall, fine-looking lady opened it, and I made known my business. She asked me to come in. … Upstairs we found some barrels of flour, and in the cellar four full barrels and a part of another barrel of whisky and a five-gallon demijohn of blackberry cordial. She pleaded with me for the flour and cordial, and I promised to leave them with her.
“Then she asked me to leave her the remnant of whisky (a very few gallons); but I told her that we must compromise that by filling our canteens first, and then she could have the rest. She consented; all filled our canteens and sent a man to Colonel Hunt to report the capture and ask him to send a wagon quick for the four barrels. … As everything was quiet, we concluded to sample the whisky. … So we all sampled our canteens and pronounced it very fine and good. Soon … we took another drink. … Soon it was stated that … as we had nothing to do, we might as well take another drink. … So the third round was swallowed, … and everything seemed to wear a lovelier hue, and I had about forgotten which outranked, General Cheatham or myself. …
“Mrs. White requested that we remain at her house and guard it from further search, which we did, and we fared well while we remained in town.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 10, pages 501 and 502
“I was met by a person on horseback inquiring for General Sharp. I made myself known, when he said, ‘General Bates … says that if you will let your left rest on the (widow Bostick’s) brick house and swing around as you move forward, you will take the enemy’s works.’ I sent my different staff officers, except my aide, Captain Harris, to caution the men not to fire. …
“We were within thirty paces of the enemy’s works when the darkness was lighted up as if by an electric display. … The enemy was there to greet us. … Our brave boys gave a yell, scrambled through the locust grove, and went into the works. …
“I was shot just below the knee, and it seemed as if my leg was shivered into splinters. I directed Captain Harris to report to Colonel Bishop that I was wounded, and direct him to assume command of the brigade. … Colonel Bishop was killed at the works, and Colonel Simms’s leg was broken; Colonel Calhoun was … wounded; and from that on it seems to have been managed by the company officers and the … men that were spared.”
Carnton Plantation archives
“In the charge bearing our regimental flag, I was shot down about 100 yards from the enemy’s breastworks. My thigh was broken half way between the knee and hip joint. … The wound bled very little. … I thought when shot about sunset, I would crawl away as soon as it was dark. I made but one effort for I found that I could not move an inch. The ground was damp and cold and I soon began to feel chilly. I had only a thin woolen blanket, that my mother had woven for me, which I managed to get off my shoulder and unfold the best I could, and spread it over my shoulders, all the time growing colder and more uncomfortable. … I then tried folding my blanket in a thick narrow fold and wound it tightly around my nose and head, and this made my breathing difficult, which kept me from freezing. While lying there in range of a battery, a cannon ball ploughed in the ground close enough to throw a half a peck of dirt on me. Another time a shell burst close enough to me for the concussion to raise my head up off my arm upon which it was resting.
“After the battle was over, and things began to quiet down, I called to the Federals, wanting them to come and get me, but they began shooting at me every time I called. Finally Maj. Rona of the 15th Miss regiment, hunting for his wounded and dead, (came) across me. … I almost went into ecstasies, and began to plead earnestly and piteously for him to have me carried off the field. He promised me he would, and in about an hour between 3 and 4 A.M. four men came with a litter and put me on it, and fearing being shot at by the enemy, they told me if I screamed they would throw me down. They carried me a short distance to an ambulance driven by Buck Chiles, a member of the 13th Miss regiment. …
“He carried me to Col. John W. McGavock’s house. … It was now about 4 A.M. I was taken in a room and laid on the floor in front of the fire place. Mrs McGavock soon brought me some wine which was all the attention she had time to pay me until about noon, as her house was full of wounded. I was carried to another room and put on a cot, and laid on my back. I soon began to feel somewhat comfortable lying perfectly still on my back. I did not dare to try to move, for when I did it pained me greatly.
“I had to use a bedpan in vacating my bowels, and when urinating the nurse gave me a large mouth bottle. I had scarcely no pain lying perfectly still, and soon began to eat heartily, and my wound began to heal. … A regimental surgeon, Dr. Trip, from a Louisiana regiment, attended the wounded of our room regularly every day. He made no attempt to set my leg until the 25th of December, … placing it in a box the length of my leg, and kept in this about four weeks. Though somewhat uncomfortable, I slept fairly well. … When it was removed about the middle of February it had knitted well enough for me to get up and walk a little on my crutches. As soon as the Federal officer in charge found this out, he had me sent to Nashville and placed in B.B. Breeds hospital. While at Col. McGavock’s, he and his wife were very kind and attentive to us and fed us a good deal at his own expense.”
Transcript of diary in Carter House files. Courtesy of Allen B. Latimer, Horn Lake, Mississippi.
“I … was severely wounded in the right thigh and hip, near the enemy’s breastworks, with the flag in my hand, and in an attempt to stick the flag staff in the enemy works. As I fell, Sergt. Hunter rushed up to me. I handed him the flag, and as he grasped it in his right hand he was shot in his right arm, and dropped the flag. I told him to change hands and take out the flag, which he did. …
“The 15th Mississippi regiment, which supported my regiment, rapidly formed by their Col. Farrell, who gave the command to charge, and it seemed to me that the regiment was crushed like a dry leaf; they lay so thick, killed and wounded. … What was living and unhurt of them fell back and the battle for the time was over, on our part of the line.
“A soldier from the ranks of the enemy leaped over the breastworks and came to me, saying, ‘I fear you are dying.’ The blood was spouting from my mouth, and I was attempting to stanch the blood with my finger. … Taking out his knife, (he) cut the tail of my coat off, made a bandage and adjusted it around my leg to stanch the blood. … He said to me, ‘Rest easy a moment and I will remove you back behind our breastworks.’ He soon came back with a litter and three other men. They laid me on the litter, took me over the breastworks and delivered me to Col. Stewart of (an) … Illinois regiment. The colonel … said, ‘Let me send you further back. If your men charge again they will kill you with their stray bullets.’ I told him no, I would rest there. Our men made another desperate charge and covered me with dirt from their bullets, as I was lying on rising ground. … This assault, like the other, was repulsed. … Col. Stewart then came to me and said, ‘Colonel, you must be removed or you will be killed by your own men.’ Then they took me on the litter down the hill and put me in an ambulance and then took me across the river. Soon after our arrival I heard a considerable stir among the wagons and ambulances, and they picked me up and laid me on the road side. I then learned that the cause of the confusion was that Gen. Forrest was in their rear, at or near Brentwood.
“The ground upon which I laid was hard frozen. … The wind was coming … from the north, and I soon became very cold. About this time the army of the enemy came by in full retreat. As they passed me someone cursed and abused me: others spoke kindly to me and one soldier said to me, ‘You will freeze here before morning.’ … He pulled from his soldiers a pair of heavy blankets and placed them over me. I asked him his name. ‘My name is H.A. Barr. My home is at Willow Springs, Nebraska. I do not blame you for fighting for the South. I am fighting for the North because my home and family resides there. Good-bye. God bless you.’
“Soon along came another soldier and said, ‘You will freeze here if not protected from that cold wind,’ and (began) placing boxes of crackers and other army supplies around me, to protect me from the North wind. Others passed around, abusing and cursing me, some threatening to bayonet me. Soon another soldier came along and run his hand around my coat collar and said, ‘This will never do. You will freeze here.’ … Gathering some kindling wood, (he) split boxes and made a good fire at my feet and passed on. To these three men I no doubt owe my life. The army passed by and at early dawn I saw a tall man looking in every direction over the field. At last he seemed to recognize me and came rushing to me, fell on his knees by my side and said, ‘Thank God, I have found you, Colonel, after a long search this night.’ I recognized him as Major Pullian, of my regiment. Several of my soldiers came to us with an ambulance. They placed me in the ambulance and started to cross the river, back to Franklin. I said to the men, pick up boxes of crackers and all kind of commissaries and place around me. As we crossed the river we met a dear old Irish soldier. He recognized me and said, ‘My dear Colonel, I have something good for you,’ and handed me a canteen of good whiskey, and said, drink and I drank freely and felt much improved. We soon arrived at the camp of the remnant of my … regiment. The boys all gathered around me … saying, ‘Where have you been, Colonel?’ I told them that I had been out to gather up some supplies for them, told them to help themselves. They soon had the ambulance emptied of all the boxes of supplies.
“Major Pullian then directed the ambulance to move on to Col. McGavock’s residence. … I was placed in a room with Capt. R. W. Jones of Yalobusha County, in charge of Dr. Wall. Dr. Roberts, my regimental surgeon, came in and gave me a thorough examination, and he whispered to Dr. Wall … and said, ‘I will attend to this matter this evening.’ …
“I asked Dr. Wall what Dr. Roberts was going to do, and he said, ‘He is going to take your leg off at the hip joint.’ I said, ‘Dr. Wall, as you know, I am a physician, and when the war ends everything I have will be gone, but my wife and two children. I will be a very poor man and dependent on my profession for the support of myself and family, and if Dr. Roberts takes off my leg, … I can never ride a horse, consequently … I cannot practice. … Promise me that you will not let Dr. Roberts take off my leg.’
“He said, ‘Col., I think like the Dr., that your leg had better come off.’
“I said to him, ‘I … have made up my mind to go with my leg, and I want you to promise me before God, that you will not let him take off my leg.’ I grasped his hand with tears in my eyes and asked him, ‘Will you promise?’
“He said, ‘I do, and will see that your leg is not removed.’
“Dr. Roberts came in the evening and spread out his instruments on a little table on which sat a bottle of chloroform. Dr. Roberts then undressed me and directed his attendant to place me under the influence of chloroform. Dr. Wall said, ‘I promised Col. Stephens, that his leg should not come off.’ ‘Oh, that is foolishness,’ said Dr. Roberts. ‘He will die sure if it is not removed.’ ‘Dr. Roberts, I have promised Col. Stephens that his leg would not come off.’ … Said Dr. Roberts, ’Give him the chloroform,’ and he commenced preparing the necessary bandages.
“Wall said, ‘Roberts, I promised Col. Stephens his leg should not come off, and if you stick a knife in it, I’ll stick a bullet in your head.’ The Dr. then folded up his instruments and retired, saying, ‘Let him die.’
“Dr. Wall then examined my leg and dredged the wound, and I told him that I had an uncle living five miles from there, and … I would go to his house and remain until I got well, … as he was a fine physician.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 21, page 582
“I was … in the last charge, about sundown. … It seemed to me that the air was all red and blue flames, with shells and bullets screeching and howling everywhere, over and through us, as we rushed across the cotton fields strewn with fallen men. Wounded and dying men lay all about in ghastly piles, and when we reached the works at the old cotton gin gatepost, only two or three of my companions were with me. They went into the ditch, but I was tumbled over by a Yankee bullet and was dragged over and laid a prisoner by the old gin house.
“That night I was put into an ambulance and taken to Nashville and placed in a hospital, where I, and other prisoners, was kept on a diet of bread and water in retaliation for what was claimed to be Confederate cruelties practiced on Federal officers at Charleston.”
From typescript of his memoir in the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Ac No 99-078
Editor’s note: Talley’s memoirs also appeared in “Fishing Creek South,” by Hugh Walker; Tennessean Magazine, Feb. 17, 1963, and “The Long-Spun Line,” by Hugh Walker, Tennessean Magazine, Feb. 24, 1963.
“We could have made a flank movement and gone around them and forced them to fight us in the open but our leader failed to use this strategy and attack them in the trenches. Our battle lines were formed about a half mile in their front. Our brass bands were playing ‘Dixie’ while the cannons gushing thunder from both sides was almost deafening. The order to charge was given. The rebel yell was terrifying as we never heard it before. We rushed on and on through a field and opening in which was no protection. The battle raged with fury and swiftness from start to finish. Our men were mowed down like grain before the sickle. Our company started in this fray with fifty seven fighting men and only eight or nine escaped death or being crippled and wounded. Captain Holman was killed in the midst of the charge, leaving the company in my command. We rushed through the locust thicket to the breast works where I fell with a broken skull. It was now between sundown and dark, and I lay as I fell in an unconscious condition until about midnight when I came to myself, I realized that I was wounded in the head. I made many efforts to rise up on my feet, but in every attempt I would fall back to the ground. My vision was impaired and it seemed that I must climb a very steep hill. The ground and everything I could see was right up in front of me and I could only be convinced of my impaired vision by trying to place my hands on objects that I apparently saw.
“I was just recovering from the shock and could stand on my knees some bit before I could on my feet, as stated above we were in a locust thicket and it was by holding to these little bullet shattered trees that I could stand and stagger along by holding to them. The moon shown brightly and I could see the ground covered with the dead and dying, over which I had to pass in making my way out. Once out of this thicket I was soon in the hands of our litter corps who helped me into an ambulance of wounded men, which took us to the field hospital where Dr. O.C. Kidder examined my wound and removed some of the sharp splints that would prevent healing, and I was glad when he said you will soon get over this provided the inner bone lying next to the brain is not fractured. The next day I could walk about without any assistance, and went back on the battlefield to see that Captain Holman’s grave was plainly marked and easily located. About a year after the close of the war his remains were brought back in interred in the family graveyard, not far from Hunter’s Point on the Cumberland River.
“After the battle at Franklin, a serious problem confronted our officials. We had more than a thousand wounded soldiers on the ground, and no railroad or other means of conveying them to Southern hospitals. People for many miles around came for their relatives and friends and did much to relieve the situation. All the wounded who could walk were given ‘Leaves of Absence’ to go to their homes provided they were in any reasonable reach of the same, or friends who could care for them until able for further service. This was the best and only reasonable thing that could be done for our relief. It was the 4th day of December before this plan of relief was put in operation and on that day myself and two other wounded men of my company, John Colton of Putnam County and John Bryan of Macon County started for our homes.”
Notes: See U.S. Capt. Edwin B. Parsons, 24th Wisconsin, re death of Capt. Holman. Talley’s home was near Tucker’s Crossroads in Wilson County, Tennessee
Carnton Plantation archives transcript of letter dated December 15, 1924:
“(I) was among the wounded who was carried with other to the McGavock house. … The house was overflowing with wounded and together with other wounded. … (I) spent the night on the ground in the yard. …
“Twenty-four hours after the Battle of Franklin and while … (I) was being carried to the operating table under the trees, … (I) noticed … a pile of arms and legs, as high as the table; when … (I) was removed from the table … (my) leg topped the pile.”
Civil War Times Illustrated, Dec. 1964; page 24.
“We fought our way, pressing the Federals to where we could overtake their baggage wagons. They would shoot their fine army mules, cut the spokes out of their wagon wheels, and thus render this transportation useless to us. … The Federals also were burning many fine dwellings on the way. It was a sad sight to see helpless women and children looking on, crying to see their homes and all their possessions reduced to ashes. …
“Scott’s brigade charged the Federal fortifications but failed to take the works. Featherstone came to his support and their combined forces made a second assault and again failed. Then Adams’ brigade joined forces with the other two and made a third advance. …
“A battery on the right of … (the) river … damaged us severely, using canister. …
“Just after the three brigades combined, and in the midst of the enemy artillery fire, I was shot through the right leg. The ground about me was covered with the fallen. I managed with the assistance of the litter men to get to a point where the bullets were not flying so thick. I remained there for the remainder of the night. Suffering great pain, I was also hungry and cold, having had nothing to eat since early morning. That meal was only a piece of corn bread cooked in the ashes of our camp fire. I had but one thin blanket. I lay on part of it and drew the other part over me. The ground beneath was frozen.
“Morning found me so bad off that I cared little whether I lived or died. I was carried to an operating table where I suffered the torture of having my wound probed for the bullet. The pain was intense but I asked Dr. Aills not to give me chloroform. … I preferred the pain to the ill effects of this drug. So I gritted my teeth and held on while the doctor dug out the metal. I was then transported to the hospital in Franklin. …
“(There) I found … my brother, Captain Arthur J. Thompson, … commander of his company in the 7th Mississippi Infantry Battalion. He had lost his leg just below the knee, besides suffering other wounds. I practically forgot my own pain in my efforts to comfort him.
“That afternoon a Mrs. Baugh visited our ward. She … insisted on taking my brother and me to her house … five miles west of Franklin, where we received the kindest care.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 19, page 32
“About this time Col. Elijah Gates rode up and called our attention to two lines of infantry in front of us, at the same time saying: ‘Boys, look in your front; we won’t get a smell.’ When we saw this, we, too, thought we would have a walkover. Seeing the nice, smooth field between us and the enemy’s works, … (I) with many others called on the Colonel for music and for a brigade drill. To this he readily consented and so ordered.
“As soon as we started the band began to play, and continued until the enemy’s batteries began to rake our lines. …
“When we were near the works, the first line or advance column, which had been repulsed, met us and passed back through our lines. … The 1st Missouri continued its charge till we reached the obstruction of brush in front of the enemy’s works, where we found Texans, Arkansans, Tennesseans. We all worked together making gaps through this obstruction. Near these gaps were piled the dead in heaps of four and five, some from all the above-mentioned States. …
“(I) helped to arrange and bury our dead the next morning. We buried one hundred and nineteen of our men in one grave near the pike, between the cotton gin and pike where we did our fighting.
“There were only three commissioned officers left in our brigade, one major, two lieutenants, and about one hundred men for duty. … I never experienced anything equal to the battle of Franklin.”
Editor’s note: Two sources
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 31, page 425.
“General Hood … gave orders that not a cannon should be fired. … My 1st Missouri Battery was on our extreme right, following General Loring’s Division as it moved forward in the attack; and just south of the Harpeth River, on a high bluff one of the enemy’s batteries was located, which hurled death into our line at every discharge. We cannoneers begged our officers to let us go into battery and silence these guns, which we could have done without throwing a shell into the town. They told us they wanted to do it as bad as we did, but could not disobey orders. I saw one shell from this battery explode immediately in front of our advancing line, and at least ten men fell in a heap and never rose again, but the line never lost step.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 11, pages 273;
“My battery camped on the field. … At daylight I learned the enemy had retreated, and … I walked the breastworks toward the center and left of our line. At the end of the hedge fence another serious obstruction began and continued to the pike as far beyond as I went. … It consisted of sharpened fence rails placed in a deep ditch, at an angle of 45 degrees, as close as they could stand. … I found it a hard matter to pull one up after an opening had been made. They were about three feet high. It was full of gaps, from two to fifty feet or more, made by our men during the assault. I think about one-third were pulled up; the balance were firmly in position. …
“The casualties at this point were fearful. Hundreds had fallen before reaching there, but it was while halting and crowding through the openings that the great slaughter occurred. From that point to the enemy’s works the ground was strewn with dead. Many hundreds lay dead in the ditch on the outside, and not a few inside among the Federal dead.
“Near the pike the enemy had utilized a gin house, barricading it. They used heavy timber for head logs to their breastworks. Those logs were shot almost to pieces. The Northern dead were nearly all shot in the head or face. There were quite a number of them near the old gin house, on either side of the turnpike, within their works.
“The locust grove to our left center consisted of trees about four to twelve inches in diameter. Nearly every one was cut down by bullets from the enemy, and fell with their tops from their works. They were a mass of splinters from about two to twelve feet high. …
“I saw quite a (Confederate) youth inside the enemy’s works at this point, who had been shot in the forehead, which was quite black where the ball went in, showing he was right at the muzzle of the gun. … I also saw a number of the enemy’s dead outside their works to the left of the pike, by the cotton gin.”
“Reminiscences of the Civil War,” by T.J. Walker, Confederate Chronicles of Tennessee, Vol. I, 1986. The manuscript and a transcript are in the possession of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
“We charged the works, climbed up the steep embankment and in some places captured the line. Here it was that Gen. Gordon … was captured. … We were standing firing at the enemy on the opposite side of the embankment not over three feet apart. …
“Here it was when we first reached the works that while we were scaling the embankment that John Sweet, the last of my mess who had started out with me at the beginning of the war, was shot through the head. He was a few feet in advance of me and he fell back against me knocking me down. We both rolled into the ditch below together. … We held our position until daylight. …
“The next day after the battle, we buried our dead as they lay on the battlefield, with a few exceptions. One of the exceptions was my dearest friend, John Sweet. With a few other comrades, I conveyed his remains into the town, procured a coffin, employed a sexton to dig a grave with our assistance. We then laid him to rest and the sexton marked the grave. After the war at the request of his father, the body was disinterred and conveyed to his home where he was laid to rest with his loved ones.”
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, edited by Mamie Yeary; 1912
“Our Company B of the Seventh Texas went into the charge with eleven men and had five killed, one badly wounded, two slightly wounded, one captured and two escaped injury.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Volume II, page 186
“Capt. J.E. Simmons … said to me as we were going into the charge, … ‘Dan, I will beat you to those yankees over yonder.’ Says I, ‘Captain, I will get there by the time you do.’ The first line of works was soon reached. I fired my gun at the enemy as they were leaving these works, and was reloading when I saw our Captain on the works waving his hat to his company to ‘come on.’ He leaped over the works and called to his company. … He went over the main line of works at the gin house and was captured. I was wounded in the hip just at their abatis.”
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, edited by Mamie Yeary; 1912
“When the battle was over there were six men in my company, and we started into the fight with twenty-six.”
The Old Nineteenth Tennessee Regiment, C.S.A. June, 1861-April, 1865, by W.J. Worsham. Knoxville; 1902
“Lieut. Frank H. Hale, of Company H, succeeded in scaling the works and crawled about twenty feet inside the Federal lines to the frame (office) house … that stood in the yard of the Carter house, where he was killed, filled with bullets from the guns of his own regiment.
“Serg’t. Lum Waller, of Co. H, scaled the works and took shelter behind the brick smokehouse, just in the rear of the dwelling, where he was wounded, and also Lieut. W.W. Etter, of Co. K, succeeded in getting upon the works and jumped down among the Federals. They took off their hats to him, but did not take him prisoner, when he, too, reached the brick smokehouse, and remained unhurt until the Federals retreated, and he rejoined the regiment.
“Zack Smith, of Co. A, crawled to the top of the works from which he repeatedly fired. …
“Arthur Fulkerson, the Sergeant-Major of the regiment, fell in the charge just before reaching the works, pierced by sixteen bullets. …
“This frame (office) house that stood in the yard, next morning presented the appearance of a sieve, so full of bullet holes. …
“In the intrenchments, captured and held by Strahl’s and Carter’s brigades of Brown’s division, the dead lay in heaps, and in some places in the ditches were piled seven deep. On the dead body of Gen. Strahl fell that of Capt. Johnson and Lieut. Marsh, and others fell on them. Regimental and company officers were seen supported in an almost upright position by the dead who had fallen first.”
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865, edited by Mamie Yeary; 1912
“We charged their breastworks and fought them hand-to-hand for hours. … I discharged my gun, and the man in front of it fell, and the man behind him pointed his gun at me, and at one leap I sprang past muzzle of his gun, grasping it with the left hand. Raising my gun as club with my right, I ordered him to surrender, which he did, and I took him and his gun out of line of battle. … As my gun was raised a ball struck it and slightly bent it, so I used the captured gun the balance of the fight. Two men on each side of me and the one behind me were shot dead. We would drop and load and rise and fire. The second man on my right while I was down was shot through the head and fell dead across my body.”
Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. 19, page 55
“General Gist came up with his brigade immediately in our rear and got behind the works, and while he was trying to get his men to move forward he was killed and fell upon me.”