The battle of Franklin--an Authentic Description.
The South Carolinian
is indebted to an officer of the late General Gist
's staff, who has just arrived from the Army of Tennessee, for the following clear and comprehensive account of the battle at Franklin
It is a fight that requires a good deal of explanation, and anything throwing light on it is valuable:
, was first threatened by Lee
's corps arrived.
On Sunday evening, November 27 the enemy commenced to evacuate, and on Monday morning our pickets entered and took possession of the town.
was at this time across the river, on the pike between Columbia
Our pontoons not having arrived, it was impossible to cross the river at once; but meanwhile Lee
made a feint as if he intended to do so, and, under cover of his fire, Cheatham
's and Stewart
's corps moved to a point seven miles below, and passed the river there.
Without halting the commands last named pushed rapidly forward, with the view of reaching the rear of the column skirmishing with Lee
on the river banks — supposed to be about thirteen thousand strong — and cutting them off from retreat.
But on reaching Spring Hill
— the point aimed at — it was found that the Federal
had been notified by their cavalry of the movement, and had reached that locality in advance.
It should be added, however, that their line of march was over eleven miles of smooth road, while our line of march was over seventeen miles of rugged country.
"On arriving at Spring Hill
, the Federal
were discovered to be in battle array and fortified.
, with a part of his dismounted cavalry, led the charge in person; and that night the breastworks were in our possession.
The enemy, after burning their supply train, had evacuated the position and moved on. The next morning (Wednesday) our troops were early on the march.
next, and Cheatham
following — Lee
was still in the rear, but coming up. The enemy were closely pushed, retreated rapidly, and left evidences of their haste on every side — wagons half burned, or with wheels cut, and animals, weltering in their own fresh blood, were strewn along the road.
After traveling in this manner for about
seven miles, Stewart
sent word to the rear that he had brought the Federal
to bay, and they were two miles in his front, in line of battle, occupying a ridge of hills.
"By the time a disposition of our forces was made for an assault, the Yankee
columns broke into marching order and moved on as before.
A short distance ahead the Federal
again made a stand.
We prepared as before to attack.
No sooner were the preparations complete, however, than the Yankees
resumed their march, and thus gained time for their wagon trains and artillery.
On reaching the last named ridge, on which the enemy had halted, we saw before us the town of Franklin
, and in front of it three strong lines of battle, in three heavy series of breastworks.
"At first it was thought best, by reason of the lateness of the hour — it now being afternoon — to delay the attack until daylight of the following morning, and then to open with a park of one hundred pieces of artillery, and follow this cannonade with a charge; but the object of General Hood
was to defeat the Yankee
army before it reached the outskirts of Nashville
, and he feared, from its demoralized condition, that it would escape during the night.
An attack was, therefore, ordered to be made at once.
made a detour to the right, and by 5 o'clock had struck the enemy a stunning blow on his left frank.
now moved up, and joining his right as near as practicable to Stewart
's left, the battle was joined and waged with fierceness on both sides.
"Thousands of our soldiers were standing once more on their own native soil, and some in sight of their own homes, and they fought with every incentive in their hearts that can urge manhood to do noble deeds.
The enthusiasm of the troops was glorious — the country a vast unbroken plain, as level as a table — and the sight of those long dark lines, fringed with fire and smoke, with twenty-thousand rifles mingling their sharp notes with the deeper thunders of the artillery, was well calculated to inspire the heroism which impelled our army on to victory; major-generals
, brigadiers and colonels rode in front of their commands, waving hats and urging on the troops.--Men fell wounded and dead — great rents were tore — but, with the steadiness of veterans, the gaps were filled by the living, and the column moved on.
"The first line of breastworks was swept clean.
Our loss had been great.
The noble Cleburne
fell, shot through the head with four balls, and died on the ramparts.
, previously wounded in the leg, had refused to leave the field, limping along on foot, cheering his men, finally received a ball through the breast, that took away his precious life; while Brown
, and scores of field and staff officers, who had exposed themselves at the head of their troops, were either killed or wounded.--Still our men faltered not. Dashing on, they reached the second line.
The Federal were stubborn.
On the right they had charged Bate
's division and gained a momentary advantage; but recovering that gallant officer was again at the front, and, with his brave Tennesseans, doing splendid service.
"For a time the Yankees
held their breastworks, and the fighting was hand-to-hand between those in the ditch on the outside and those behind the entrenchments.
But the struggle was not long, and again the foe was flying across the field.
It was night, however, and the difficulties of continuing the battle so great, that at 2 o'clock A. M., save the occasional spattering of musketry, the grand chorus of battle was at an end. The next morning it was discovered that the Federal
had evacuated the position and were in full retreat to Nashville
It was likewise discovered that Thomas
had been largely reinforced, and thus enabled to make the stubborn resistance which had not been anticipated by General Hood