previous next

The death of Generals Cleburne and Adams.

In the “Bivouac” for October, 1885, James Barr, of Company E, 65th Illinois Volunteers, writing from Barwell, Kansas, said:
I was somewhat interested in that terrible affair at Franklin. I was a prisoner near the cotton-gin for about three or four minutes, was ordered to the rear by some of the Confederates, and would have had a trip to Andersonville had it not been for that “devil-may-care ” counter-charge made by Illinoisans and Kentuckians. Our Colonel Stewart (65th Illinois) tried hard to save the life of General John Adams, of Mississippi. Colonel Stewart called to our men not to fire on him, but it was too late. Adams rode his horse over the ditch to the top of the parapet, undertook to grasp the “old flag” from the hands of our color-sergeant, when he fell, horse and all, shot by the color-guard.

I was a reenlisted veteran, and went through twenty-seven general engagements, but I am sure that Franklin was the hardest-fought field that I ever stood upon. General J. D. Cox [in his “ Franklin and Nashville” ] censures General Wagner for holding to his advanced position too long, calls his action a gross blunder, etc.; but, as one of Cox's men, I looked upon the matter in a different light. I think if Cleburne had not struck Wagner's two brigades as he did that his brave lads would have broken our line successfully; but, as it was, his men were badly winded with his work with Wagner, which gave Opdycke's and White's men a better chance to check him at the cotton-gin. The way I saw it was this: I was acting as orderly and standing a few paces east of the cotton-gin. The first Confederate troops that; came in view were Stewart's corps on our left with Cheatham's corps to the left of Stewart. The Confederate line moved easily and steadily on, until Cleburne was checked for the time by Wagner. The short time lost by Cleburne threw Stewart's line too far in advance. Stewart was first to receive the fire from our main line, and was unable to carry our works, his men who were not killed or wounded being compelled to retire. Now Cleburne, who had been delayed by Wagner, came up just in time to receive a heavy right oblique fire from the men who had repulsed Stewart's corps. I never saw men put in such a terrible position as Cleburne's division was in for a few minutes. The wonder is that any of them escaped death or capture.

In the “Bivouac” for November, 1885, John McQuaide, of Vicksburg, Miss., wrote:

Some time since I called attention to the inaccuracies of current history in regard to the manner of General Patrick Cleburne's death at Franklin. The subject has been brought to my mind again by Mr. James Barr's letter. It has been stated that Cleburne and horse were killed on top of the works, which is incorrect. It was General John Adams, of Loring's division, Stewart's corps. Early next morning I assisted in putting his body in an ambulance; also the body of General Cleburne. Adams's horse was a bay. It 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 to 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.


Defending an embrasure.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November, 1885 AD (1)
October, 1885 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: