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150th Anniversary (1864–2014) This Month in the Civil War: Battle of Franklin

Civil War Collection 150th Anniversary

The Battle of Franklin, on November 30, 1864, was the second engagement in two days between John Bell Hood‘s troops and John M. Schofield‘s, the first being the Battle of Spring Hill on the 29th. Following Spring Hill, however, Schofield and his Union soldiers slipped through Hood’s grasp during the night. Schofield’s aim was to join up with George H. Thomas‘s troops in Nashville, but he was slowed in Franklin, Tennessee, by the damaged bridges over the Harpeth River. Schofield’s men repaired the bridges, and the Union wagons were almost all across when Hood and his troops arrived in pursuit.

Battle of Franklin Battle MapDespite the fact that the open terrain was a disadvantage to the Confederates, Hood ordered a frontal attack against the Union defenses that commenced at 4 p.m. After initial, temporary success in breaking through the Union lines, each ensuing Confederate attempt was repulsed. When the battle slowed to a stop long after dark, Hood intended to restart the battle in the morning, but he discovered the next day that Schofield had again slipped away in the night. Hood pursued Schofield but couldn’t catch up to him before his arrival at Nashville.

The battle proved disastrous for Hood’s army. Between Spring Hill and Franklin, casualties for Hood’s troops totaled 7,500 (compared to Schofield’s 2,500), with heavy casualties among the Confederate leadership as well. When combined with the ensuing Battle of Nashville, it was the end of the war in the West for the Confederates.

35 Comments

  1. Thank you so very much for this description of battles fought by Hood. My Great Grandfather was in Hood’s Texas Brigade. Now I want to find out if he was in this exact battle. Horrible, fascinating, sad. Again, thanks.

    • Barbara, ….if you look up the “Order-of-Battle”, that will help you. That will break it down to individual regiments. If he was in a particular regiment, then most likely he was there.

    • If you have never visited the McGavock Confedrate cemetery in Franklin you should and visit Carnton plantation where the cemetery is located. Also, you should read “Widow of the South.” It is a wonderful book although the romance between Carrie and the confederate soldier isn’t true. The military facts and descriptions are.

    • Hey Barbara, the Texas brigade was a very prestigious unit, but outside of the Chickamauga campaign in late 1863, it served exclusively with the Army of Northern Virginia, even after Hood himself was transferred to the Army of Tennessee. So the answer is no, if he was in Hood’s Texas brigade specifically, he was most likely not at the Battle of Franklin.

    • Was he married to Leila Clay? Was his name Harry?

    • My uncle Henry Oldham Robertson fought with HTB and was captured 3 days after Gettysburg and was a POW at Point Lookout in MD. I am a 5th generation Texan, living in Md right now, and have visited Point Lookout. Incredibly desolate, miles from anything, the men were housed in tents alone in the harsh winter, if they were sick and coughed, they were beaten. Many had no blankets. Their form of punishment was starvation. The north’s version of Andersonville. He made it home alive to Texas after the war ended, unrecognizable to even his own mother and lived a full life.

  2. My ancestor Lt. Albert Crowther died during the Battle of Franklin and is buried there.

  3. My great grandfather was in Lanes brigade and was wounded in this battle.

  4. At least four of my cousin’s were in this battle. They were: Major General Edward C. Walthall, Commander Walthall’s Division. He had two horses shot out from under him, and was badly wounded, but refused to leave the field. Up on his third horse, he continued the charge. He was very close to General Cleburne, at the time of Cleburne’s death. ~ Also, his brother, Lt. Benjamin A. Walthall, was Aide-de-Camp in Walthall’s Division. ~ Also, another brother, David M. Walthall, Pvt. was in Company C, of General Chalmers escort company, under General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Command. ~ Also, another Walthall cousin was in the 4th Alabama Cavalry, under NB Forrest. General Forrest and General Walthall covered the retreat after the battle.

    • Good ol’ Nathan Bedford Forrest, alleged perpetrator of the massacre of black Union soldiers and a founder of the KKK. But a great cavalry tactician. He’s definitely my kind of role model.

  5. My great-great-grandfather Lt. Marshall Scruggs of the Missouri Brigade died in this battle.

  6. Hello all – I have several ancestors in the Civil War – ALL OF THEM WAR BLUE AND CARRIED THE RED-WHITE-AND BLUE! Now, assuming that Ms. Rephlo’s ancestor, from Missouri, was also a Confederate – isn’t anybody looking for the men in blue at those battles? I will work on it and let you know. I know of two who were in Tennesse (Michigan’s 2nd calvary) -Howe- and another who made it with Sherman to Georgia…B. Hal Miner

    • On the 7th of May, 1864, the 11th Michigan Infantry entered the Georgia campaign under Sherman. My gg grandfather, G.V. Bland, was in that infantry and survived to tell the story.

    • You have quite a history from the Illegal Armed Invasion of the North into the South.

    • So sorry they were color blind and didn’t know the difference between blue and gray. Both sides lost an incredible numbers of men.

  7. Howdy! My great grandfather, Joseph George, was a member of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry at the Battle of Franklin. That unit was led by Colonel Arthur McArthur.

  8. My hubby’s gggrandfather fought at Franklin with Cleburn, He was severely wounded at the cotton gin. He spent the night in the field and was taken to a local house where two ‘spinster ladies’ nursed him until he was well enough to be taken to Camp Chase, Ohio where he stayed until the end of the war. He later practiced law in north Alabama and served as a US Representative for one term. Interesting guy.

  9. I lived in Brentwood, TN only a few miles from the Franklin Battlefield during the 1980’s and went to several re-enactments. During this time I received a packet of my ancestor, Thomas Hicks, civil war records. They recorded on a couple that he was on patrol. He was stationed in the Union forces that guarded the Railroad that heads West out of Nashville near where the Harpeth River and Cumberland River meet. There are photos of the train trestles the troops helped guard by a famous civil war photographer. This location was not a far ride to Franklin. A three month patrol seemed strange, but then I’ve never been a military buff. Hmmmm

  10. When will you hayseeds remember,the south was defeated ask Robert E Lee

  11. Lance,

    You need to get your facts straight and quit perpetuating those supposed reconstruction myths that are continually repeated and have been since 1865. There is no basis in fact regarding your comments.

  12. To Larry Becker: Oh don’t worry, Larry, Southerners (there’s “hayseeds” in both N & S – I know, I’ve lived up N too.) know very well that we were defeated – & punished!!! The whole war was fought on Southern soil where people, farm animals, buildings, towns, commercial enterprises as well as the actual dirt was injured or destroyed. After the war we were punishment for standing up for our personal rights, freedoms, & beliefs. We were heavily taxed, livestock & properties seized, people jailed for barely a reason. The South made a slow recovery because of such impediments. And even though 200 years have passed & we’ve made a grand recovery, almost everyone in this country – especially Northeners – think of us as backward, ignorant hayseeds. You visit the South someday, Larry, & open your eyes & mind & discover what a varied, beautiful, interesting, historical place is here – same for our people. There’s good & bad people EVERYWHERE on this Earth, Larry. Drop your prejudices & open your mind & heart. There’s probably someone somewhere that thinks you’re a hayseed!

  13. My great grandfather Isaac King was captured at Franklin and survived imprisonment at Andersonville. I went to Franklin this summer.

  14. The south lost the war? So how is the Union Federal government treating you now? No the people of these United States lost!

  15. My great grandfather was captured during battle. William Yarbrough. Bolivar county , ms daily report says he was missing and wanted to locate his horse.

  16. I am trying to find my Family ancestry and they were in world war two there names are
    William Arthur Fox and William Lewellyn Fox. They were both in would war two in the air force I would appreciate it if you could help me.

  17. My 2nd great-grandfather, PFC Michael Welch, an Irish immigrant from County Mayo, fought and was wounded in the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864 while serving with the Ohio 100/183 Infantry. He enlisted in the Ohio 100 Volunteer Infantry at age 40 in 1863. He served to the conclusion of the War, but was permanently disabled. He never rejoined his family likely due to his disability, and spent the remainder of his life at the Dayton Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers where he died on March 8, 1903. He is interred at the Dayton National Cemetery; Dayton, Ohio. One of his daughters, Maggie, is my great-grandmother.

  18. Vicki Fox: First join Ancestry.com for a year. Look in the 1940 Census for the two names. Then track back through 1930, 1920, etc back until you find what you are looking for. ESS

  19. My ggrandfather was Pvt. William Henry Harrison Green.
    He was in an Confedrate artillery unit along the Mississippi river in the state of Arkansas. I have for many years tired to fine which
    unit he was in and his records. Can anyone help
    I am a USMC Vietnam Vet and was a FO
    for Artillery in Vietnam 1967 to 1968

    Jim Green
    P.S. any info please send to [email protected]

  20. I live in Melbourne Australia as did my grand-father, my mother’s father. In 1915 he and thousands of other young Aussies enlisted in the AIF (Australian Infantry Forces) and sailed to Europe to fight with the British in the Great War (WW1). As 17 year olds they “prepared” for a couple of weeks in Egypt and then stormed the Golipoli beach in Turkey. Tactical and geographical ineptness of the British command led to slaughter of thousands of our young guys before they even made it to the dry sand above the high tide line. In the weeks that followed the rain of fire from the hills above the featureless beach ended the lives of thousands of others before the survivors were evacuated. These “lucky” ones were shipped to western Europe to experience similar dismal military commanders. My grandfather survived the Western Front in Posirs France, despite being completely buried by earth during one of the heavy and frequent German artiliary barrages. He returned home in 1919 after 4 years of war and never spoke of his experiences. They say that war is HELL, and I suppose he didn’t want to be reminded of it. Many of our country towns have “avenues of honour” on the main roads leading into and out of town that consist of elm, oak or poplar trees at 40 foot intervals on both sides of the road. These avenues stretch on for miles either side of these towns. One tree for each of our “fallen” country boys. So inconsolably sad to think of the waste of young life and the futility of the pregnancy and child birth that mothers across the country endured to bring those unfortunate young guys into the world.

  21. Mostly great Southern heros!

  22. My g-grandfather was at Franklin with Granbury’s Brigade, practically right in the middle of the Confederate attack, and saw many of his companions killed. He told a story of standing at the Federal earthworks for hours, with other troops loading and handing him rifles, which he then rose up and fired over the berm.

    Hood was a pretty good commander up to the division level, but his leadership of the Army of Tennessee was disastrous, as so well evidenced by his costly failures at Atlanta, Franklin, and Nashville. He literally destroyed the Army of Tennessee with inappropriate strategy and tactics.

    My g-grandfather and his comrades never ceased to admire the leadership of the man that Hood replaced … Gen. Joseph Johnston. They forever referred to themselves as “Johnston’s Boys” or as “Johnston’s Army”. Johnston was always deeply considerate of his men, while Hood actually blamed his subordinates and soldiers for all his shortcomings and failures.

  23. when will you be posting Vietnam services

  24. Just toured the Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN with my granddaughter. This mansion was used as headquarters for Union during the Civil War. It remained relatively undamaged although grounds were trampled. Union paid for repair of the grounds.