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Doc. 160.-the fight at Franklin, Tenn.

Despatch of General Rosecrans.

Murfreesboro, Tenn., April 11, 1863.
Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief:
the following despatch was received from General Granger on the tenth instant:

Van Dorn made his promised attack to-day, at one o'clock directly in front and on the town. The infantry regiments on guard in town, with the cavalry pickets, held him at bay until their ammunition was exhausted. The dense smoke and atmosphere favored their operations, enabling them to approach very near without our being able to observe them. Our siege-guns and our light batteries opened upon them with murderous [519] effect, literally strewing the ground with men and horses. I had halted Stanley four miles out on the Murfreesboro road. He at once crossed his forces over at Heights's Mills, vigorously attacking Forrest's divisions, moving down on the Lewisburgh pike, capturing six pieces of artillery and some two hundred prisoners; but, owing to the unfavorable nature of the country, was unable to hold them, being attacked by greatly superior numbers, outflanked and nearly surrounded. Our loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners is less than one hundred, while the enemy's cannot be less than three times that number. They were repulsed on all sides, and driven until darkness prevented the pursuit. Captain McIntyre, of the Fourth regulars, took the battery and prisoners, bringing off thirty odd of the latter.

G. Granger, Major-General. W. S. Rosecrans, Major-General.

Captain Matchett's report.

camp of the Fortieth O. V.I., near Franklin, Tenn., April 11, 1863.
Colonel S. D. Atkins, Commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, Army of Kentucky:
Colonel: I have the honor of submitting to you the following report of the engagement had by the Fortieth O. V. I. under my command with the combined rebel forces of Van Dorn, Cosby, and Brig.-General Jackson, on yesterday, (April tenth, 1863,) while on picket-duty. The Colonel and Major of the regiment being sick, and I being the ranking Captain of the regiment reported for duty, the command of the regiment for that day was assigned to me.

At twenty minutes past twelve o'clock M. the enemy commenced the engagement by attacking the outpost guards on, and adjacent to, the Columbia pike, with a large advance-guard. Companies E and K (First Lieutenants James Allen and David Roop, respectively) were in charge of that section of our line, with First Lieutenant David Roop commanding. The guards of that section were rallied on their reserve, where they gallantly repulsed two attacks of the enemy's advance before reenforcements reached them. Before the attack began I ordered company H, Capt. Meagher, and First Lieut. John W. Smith, company I, forward to strengthen Lieut. Roop's reserve. Seeing the strength of the enemy's advance-guard greatly outnumbered Lieut. Roop's reserve, I immediately sent company B, Captain Charles Ent, forward also to take position on the left of Lieut. Roop's reserve. A moment's glance at the enemy's force convinced me that the limited force under my command could maintain their lines but a short time against the numbers of the enemy in front. I therefore ordered my last company of reserves, (company A, under command of Second Lieut. Hart of company B,) to take position in the wood at the left of the railroad in order to strengthen company C, Second Lieut. J. C. Peck, who had been posted on our extreme left section of the guard, on the Lewisburgh pike. At the same time I sent for the provost-guards of Franklin, (company G, Second Lieut. J. A. Fisher commanding,) ordering them to reenforce my left by way of the Lewisburgh pike with all their force, excepting one relief of the prison-guards. This order was not obeyed. My messenger in a few minutes informed me that Lieut. Fisher and the Provost-Marshal, Capt. Avery, of Gen. Granger's staff, refused to send me the company. Company G, therefore, was not sent out of the town. With this disposition of my force, and with only seven companies of infantry — less than three hundred men — we maintained our lines, of more than one fourth of a mile in extent, for more than two hours against vastly superior numbers. Twice did they attempt to rout us with their cavalry, and as often were they repulsed with loss.

They next advanced several mounted companies as skirmishers, deployed in sections and platoons, and at the same time began to form a consolidated line on rear of his skirmishers for a charge. We held our lines thus long, momentarily expecting reenforcements. None, however, arrived, and I was informed that none were on their way. From the length of time that we were engaged, it was reasonable to suppose that we were not to be reenforced, but rather that it was the wish of the Commanding General for us to fall back. No order or intimation to that effect, however, reached me.

Our lines up to this time had been maintained in the skirts of a wood. To the rear of us for a distance of more than a half a mile, lay an open cotton-field without an obstacle or a shelter on it. A formidable line of cavalry, composed of three regiments, of from one thousand five hundred to two thousand five hundred men, as we learned from prisoners afterward taken by us, were just beyond the range of our guns to the front of us. The fences and houses of the town were our nearest shelter in rear. A force sufficiently strong to flank us were menacing our right and left. The woods must soon be yielded up to overwhelming numbers. From this critical position the men were relieved by the most noble daring and bravery that ever graced any arms. I gave the order to fall back on double-quick. His mounted skirmishers followed us. When they had advanced into the open field we halted, came to an “about,” and gave them a fire which soon sent them reeling on their main line. Taking advantage of their retreat, we fell back. His skirmishers soon recovered, and again charged us as before, and we again “faced about” and repulsed them. We again fell back as they fell back. This manoeuvre was repeated with equal success on our side until we gained about two thirds of the distance from our outpost line to the village, when the main line of the enemy's cavalry charged us. When within range of our arms, we kept up a continuous fire on him, which caused him to move toward us at a slow and cautious pace. At this time I caused the men to retire from front to the rear by the company. This order was executed in admirable style, the front company retiring on double-quick to the rear of the other companies, where they came to an “about,” and deliberately [520] delivered their fire, until they again became the front company, when they again retired as before. In this manner, though exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy, we kept them on a pace less than double-quick, until we gained the town, where we took advantage of houses, yard-fences, hedges, etc., which we converted into rifle-pits, from whence we poured into the enemy's ranks a murderous fire. The right and left regiments of his line were repulsed, and they retreated to his main reserve; his centre only passing into the town. For this they were severely punished by our continuous fire and soon retreated in the utmost confusion. We saluted their retreating and confused ranks as we had welcomed their approaching line of battle, with a murderous fire. After they had fallen back, several pieces of his artillery, which he had placed in battery near our picket post on the Columbia road, opened on us with grape and shell. Our batteries and siege-guns at the fortifications then opened on them and drove them from the field.

At five o'clock P. M., our regiment was again formed near the pontoon-bridge, from whence in a few minutes we moved forward and again took our former position at our guard-lines.

During the action every officer and man did his duty nobly. My commands were promptly obeyed and executed under a heavy fire of the enemy, with a promptness that would do credit to the ordinary drill on the parade-ground. Capts. Meagher and Ent, First Lieuts. Roop, Allen, and Smith, and Second Lieuts. Peck and Harp, each commanding a company, and the only companies engaged, deserve particular mention.

Our loss was, killed, three; wounded four; and missing ten. Their names accompany this report. The enemy's loss was: killed, two captains and fifteen men; wounded, one major and thirteen men, and thirteen prisoners, beside over one hundred horses, riderless, escaped within our lines and were taken.

In reporting their loss, I only mention those who fell in our (Fortieth Ohio's) hands, except the horses. He took with him the greater part of his killed and wounded. His total loss may be safely estimated at one hundred and fifty in killed and wounded.

I have the honor to be, Colonel, your obedient servant,

Chas. G. Matchett, Captain Commanding Fortieth Ohio. April 10, 1863.

Official list of killed, wounded, and missing of the Fortieth Ohio volunteer infantry, in the engagement at Franklin, Tenn., April tenth, 1863:

killed--Orderly Sergeant Wilson Burrows, company A; privates Washington Link and Thomas Huntington, company C.

wounded--Privates Alpheus Babb, company B; Martin Woolether, company C; Samuel I. Morrow, company B; and James Bradley, company C.

missing--Sergeant Jesse Norain, Elwood Hale, and John Fleming, company B; Albert Williams, Wilson Olney, Oscar Duvall, and Samuel Hubbard, company A; Adam Suverly, Wallace Bennett, and Michael Madigan, company C.

Nashville Union account.

Franklin, Tennessee, April 11, 1863.
We have been so much accustomed of late to skirmishing, that any serious thought of an attack on this place was not entertained, and even when, on yesterday, about one P. M., the firing became continuous, no excitement was manifest either in the citizens or soldiers. Not until the loud yells of the advancing rebels, and the furious flight of some of our cavalry through town, accompanied by numbers of riderless horses, were we aroused to the belief that any thing more than a demonstration was intended on our front, and ere we had time to take a calm glance at the subject, the matter was decided by seeing our own and the rebel cavalry coming down our main street pell-mell, ours slightly in advance, but the rebels “gaining on ‘em” every jump. They dashed through town, and some of them reached the pontoon-bridge, under the very muzzles of our guns.

So sudden and impetuous was the charge, that every one was taken by surprise, and no doubt its very boldness saved them to some extent. Dearly, however, they paid for it, as a very small proportion of them escaped either death or capture. Van Dorn advanced on the Columbia pike with a battery of artillery. Cosby came by the Lewisburgh pike, while Starnes and Forrest were essaying to make the rear of our works by a road crossing the Harpeth three miles east of town, and known as the Nichol Mill Road. In anticipation of this move on their part, Gen. Granger had sent a large body of cavalry, under Gen. Stanley, to guard that crossing and check their advance. Meantime Cosby's force advanced on our pickets, (Fortieth Ohio,) who fought them most handsomely for an hour or more, but finally fell back under cover of our guns. The rebels formed and advanced until within range of our siege-pieces in the fort, planting their battery west of the Columbia pike and firing into the town. Our battery fired shell into their lines, and succeeded in forcing them back and breaking them. We had some fine artillery practice, indicating great skill on the part of our gunners.

When they had fallen back from our front we heard continuous firing from the forces of Stanley. Here the Fourth regulars distinguished themselves by one of the finest charges of the war, capturing the rebel artillery and two hundred prisoners, but which unfortunately we could not hold, and all the artillery, with most of the prisoners, were retaken. Our loss on this part of the field was slight, not amounting to more than twenty, that of the rebels unknown, as they carried off their dead. Infantry reenforcements were sent out from here, but the rebels fell back toward Spring Hill. The fight near town resulted in the loss to the rebels of fifteen killed, including two captains and one lieutenant, six wounded, and taken, including a major, and twelve prisoners. The total number of prisoners taken here and by Stanley is about seventy; among them several officers. Captain Freeman, of Freeman's battery, (rebel,) is among the killed. [521] Federal loss here four killed, four wounded, and three missing, all belonging to the Fortieth Ohio. A reconnoissance from the front has just returned, and the rebels have disappeared.

Most of the prisoners taken here belong to the Twenty-eighth Mississippi mounted infantry. Many of those captured by Stanley are Tennesseeans.


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