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[523] can give an idea of the sight. The dead were literally piled up, and to my sorrow I saw that our loss was much the greatest. We had pressed them into their last line, and there the dead lay mangled together. Entire companies were literally gone. And just a little back the gallant old soldier, General Pat Cleburne, lay dead. He was the idol of his command, and a better soldier never died for any cause. Brigadier-General Adams was killed, he and his horse falling together, just on the earthworks of the enemy. Our loss was about 5,000 men, including five Generals killed and six wounded.

I could not but feel that the lives of these men were a useless sacrifice. It seemed to me to be a rashness occasioned by the blunder of the day before. It was an attempt to make good by reckless daring the blunder which incapacity had occasioned the preceding day. Schofield had as many or more men in Franklin than we had. He was gathering strength from all quarters as he fell back, while we were losing.

The next morning we should have buried our dead, and those of the enemy, and retired from the State. While we held the battle-field, and the dead of our adversaries, we were disheartened and demoralized. We had witnessed on one day a brilliant flank movement terminate by lying down by the roadside in order to let the enemy pass by, and on the next day saw the army led out in a slaughter-pen to be shot down like animals. Soldiers are quick to perceive blunders, and when confidence is destroyed in a superior officer he should be removed. There is nothing so wholesome with a good soldier as perfect confidence in the courage and judgment of superior officers. While the majority of the army believed General Cheatham mainly responsible for the misfortune at Spring Hill, yet General Hood did not escape censure. And when at Franklin the attempt was made to do by storm against an entrenched and reinforced foe, what strategy failed to do the day before, the morale of the army was almost destroyed.

But instead of retreating at once and saving the remnant of a magnificent army, we moved up and formed around Nashville. Our little army, now about 23,000 strong, was stretched for miles around the city. We were on the extreme left, near the Cumberland river, and were not strong enough to make a good picket line. The rout and retreat were inevitable. Thomas accumulated an army of 82,000. The only wonder is that he did not capture us all. General Walthall, one of the bravest and best of all our gallant army, with a picked command, and aided by Forrest, covered the retreat and enabled us to get out with 18,000 men. We recrossed the Tennessee river on the 26th and 27th days of December.

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