Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

Carter house (under steeple).

Gin-house.

Roper's Knob.

THE BATTLE-FIELD OF FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE, LOOKING NORTH FROM GENERAL CHEATHAM'S HEADQUARTERS. (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY L. T. SHULL.)

dark fringe of chestnuts along the river bank, far across the Columbia Pike, the colors gayly fluttering and the muskets gleaming brightly, and advancing steadily, in perfect order, dressed on the center, straight for the works. Meantime, General Schofield had retired to the fort, on a high bluff on the other side of the river, some two miles away, by the road, and had taken General Stanley with him.

THE CARTER HOUSE, FROM THE SIDE TOWARD THE TOWN.

manded by Generals William Grose and Walter C.Whitaker and Colonel Kirby. All the troops in the works were ordered to report to General Cox, to whom was assigned the command of the defenses. General Wood's division of the Fourth Corps had gone over the river with the trains; and two brigades of Wagner's division, which had so valiantly stood their ground at Spring Hill and covered the rear since, were halted on a slope about half a mile to the front. Opdycke had brought his brigade within the works, and held them massed, near the pike, behind the Carter house. Besides the guns on the knoll, near the railroad cut, there were 6 pieces

From the fort, the whole field of operations was plainly visible. Notwithstanding all these demonstrations, the two brigades of Wagner were left on the knoll where they had been halted, and, with scarcely an apology for works to protect

[graphic]

THE CARTER HOUSE, FROM THE CONFEDERATE SIDE.

FRONT VIEW OF THE CARTER HOUSE.

(FROM PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN IN 1884.)

in Reilly's works; 4 on Strickland's left; 2 on Moore's left, and 4 on Grose's left-in all, 26 guns in that part of the works, facing south, and 12 more in reserve, on or near the Columbia Pike.

As the bright autumn day, hazy with the golden light of an Indian summer atmosphere, wore away, the troops who had worked so hard looked hopefully forward to a prospect of ending it in peace and rest, preparatory either to a night march to Nashville, or to a reënforcement by Smith's corps and General Thomas. But about two o'clock, some suspicious movements on the hills a mile or two away-the waving of signal flags and the deployment of the enemy in line of battlecaused General Wagner to send his adjutantgeneral, from the advanced position where his two brigades had halted, to his commanding general, with the information that Hood seemed to be preparing for attack. In a very short time the whole Confederate line could be seen, stretching in battle array, from the VOL. XXXIV. -84.

them, had waited until it was too late to retreat without danger of degenerating into a rout.

On came the enemy, as steady and resistless as a tidal wave. A couple of guns, in the advance line, gave them a shot and galloped back to the works. A volley from a thin skirmish line was sent into their ranks, but without causing any delay to the massive array. A moment more, and with that wild "rebel yell" which, once heard, is never forgotten, the great human wave swept along, and seemed to ingulf the little force which had so sturdily awaited it.

The first shock came, of course, upon the two misplaced brigades of Wagner's division, which, through some one's blunder, had remained in their false position until too late to retire without disaster. They had no tools to throw up works; and when struck by the resistless sweep of Cleburne's and Brown's divisions, they had only to make their way, as best they could, back to the works. In that wild rush, in which friend and foe were intermingled, and the piercing "rebel yell" rose

[graphic]

high above the "Yankee cheer," nearly seven hundred were made prisoners. But, worst of all for the Union side, the men of Reilly's and Strickland's brigades dared not fire, lest they should shoot down their own comrades, and the guns, loaded with grape and canister, stood silent in the embrasures. With loud shouts of "Let us go into the works with them," the triumphant Confederates, now more like a wild, howling mob than an organized army, swept on to the very works, with hardly a check from any quarter. So fierce was the rush that a number of the fleeing soldiers - officers and men dropped exhausted into the ditch, and lay there while the terrific contest raged over their heads, till, under cover of darkness, they could crawl safely inside the intrenchments.

[ocr errors]

On Strickland's left, close to the Columbia Pike, was posted one of the new infantry regiments. The tremendous onset, the wild yells, the whole infernal din of the strife, were too much for such an undisciplined body. As they saw their comrades from the advance line rushing to the rear, they too turned and fled. The contagion spread, and in a few minutes a disorderly stream was pouring down the pike past the Carter house toward the town. The guns were abandoned and the works for a considerable space deserted - only to be occupied a moment later by Cleburne's and Brown's men, who swarmed into the gap. At this critical juncture, Colonel Emerson Opdycke, who, unordered, had brought his command within the works, seeing the fearful peril, ordered forward his well-disciplined brigade, which, deploying

BRIDGE AT FRANKLIN OVER THE HARPETH RIVER-
LOOKING UP-STREAM.

lin is upon the south bank. Fort Granger, where General SchoThe left of the picture is the north bank of the stream; Frankfield had his headquarters, occupied the site of the buildings on the north bank.

as it advanced, was soon involved in as fierce a hand-to-hand fight as ever soldiers engaged in. The regiments which formed Reilly's second line had remained steadfast, and also rallied to the work. A large part of Conrad's and Lane's men, as they came in, though wholly disorganized, turned about and gave the enemy a hot reception. Opdycke's horse was shot under him, and he fought on foot at the head of his brigade. General Cox was everywhere. present, encouraging and cheering on his men. General Stanley, who, from the fort where he had gone with General Schofield, had seen the opening clash, galloped to the front as soon as possible and did all that a brave man could until he was painfully wounded. Some of Opdycke's men manned the abandoned guns in Reilly's works; others filled the gap in Strickland's line. These timely movements first checked and then repulsed the assaulting foe, and soon the entire line of works was re-occupied, the enemy sullenly giving up the prize which was so nearly won. Stewart's corps, which was on Cheatham's right, filling the space to the river, kept abreast of its valiant companion, and, meeting no obstacle, reached the works near the Union left before Cheatham made the breach at the Columbia Pike. Owing to the peculiar formation of the field, the left of Stewart's line was thrown upon the same ground with the right of

[graphic]

Cheatham's; the two commands there became much

FRONT VIEW OF THE GIN-HOUSE.

The line of the Union works ran in front of, and only a few feet distant from, the Gin-house; in 1886 a faint depression along the edge of the field still indicated the position. Near the tree seen in the lower picture there is a round, deep hollow which also afforded protection to the Union soldiers. The lower picture was taken from the same point on the pike, looking a little to the right, as the view of "The Carter House, from the Confederate side," on page 605.

VIEW OF THE GIN-HOUSE, FROM THE PIKE.

intermingled. This accounts for so many of General Stewart's officers and men being killed in front of Reilly's and Casement's regiments.

Where there was nothing to hinder the Union fire, the muskets of Stiles's and Casement's brigades made fearful havoc ; while the batteries at the railroad cut plowed furrows through the ranks of the advancing foe. Time after time they came up to the very works, but they never crossed them except as prisoners. More than one color-bearer was shot down on the parapet. It is impossible to exaggerate the fierce energy with which the Confederate soldiers, that short November afternoon, threw themselves against the works, fighting with what seemed the very madness of despair. There was not a breath of wind, and the dense smoke settled down upon the field, so that, after the first assault, it was impossible to see at any distance. Through this blinding medium, assault after assault was made, several of the Union officers declaring in their reports that their lines received as many as thirteen distinct attacks. Between the gin-house and the Columbia Pike the fighting was fiercest, and the Confederate losses the greatest. Here fell most of the Confederate generals, who, that fateful afternoon, madly gave up their lives-Adams and Quarles, of Stewart's corps-Adams's horse astride the works, and himself pitched headlong into the Union lines. Cockrell, of the same corps, was severely wounded. In Cheatham's corps, Cleburne and Granberry were killed near the pike. On the west of the pike Strahl and Gist were killed, and Brown was severely wounded. General G. W. Gordon was captured by Opdycke's brigade, inside the works. The heaviest loss in all the Union regiments was in the 44th Missouri, the advance-guard of Smith's long-expected reënforcement, which had been sent to Columbia on the 27th, and was here stationed on the right of the raw regiment, which broke and ran at the first onset of the enemy. Quickly changing front, it held its ground, but with a loss of 34 killed, 37 wounded, and 92 missing, many of the latter being wounded. In the 72d Illinois, its companion, every fieldofficer was wounded, and the entire color guard, of 1 sergeant and 8 corporals, was shot down. Its losses were 10 killed, 66 wounded, and 75 missing.

some distance east of the town, with the evident purpose of getting at Schofield's wagons. But he reckoned without his host. Hatch and Croxton, by General Wilson's direction, fell upon him with such vigor that he returned to the south side, and gave our forces no further

[graphic]

BRIGADIER-GENERAL EMERSON OPDYCKE. (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH.)

While this infantry battle was going on, Forrest had crossed the river with his cavalry

trouble. At nightfall the victory was complete on every part of the Union lines. But desultory firing was kept up till long after dark here and there on the Confederate side, though with little result.

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, as the Confederate lines were forming for their great assault, General Schofield, in reply to a telegram from General Thomas, asking him if he could "hold Hood at Franklin for three days longer," replied, "I do not think I can. . . . It appears to me I ought to take position at Brentwood at once." Accordingly General Thomas, at 3:30, directed him to retire to Brentwood, which he did that night, bringing away all the wagons and other property in safety. Among the spoils of war were 33 Confederate colors, captured by our men from the enemy. The morning found the entire infantry force safe within the friendly shelter of the works at Nashville, where they also welcomed the veterans of A. J. Smith, who had just arrived from Missouri. Soon after, a body of about five thousand men came in from Chattanooga, chiefly sluggards of General Sherman's army, too late for their proper commands. These were organized into a provisional division under General J. B. Steedman,

and were posted between the Murfreesboro' Pike and the river. Cooper's brigade also came in after a narrow escape from capture, as well as several regiments of colored troops from the railroad between Nashville and Johnsonville. Their arrival completed the force on

story is too painful to dwell upon, even after the lapse of 23 years. From the 2d of December until the battle was fought on the 15th, the general-in-chief did not cease, day or night, to send him from the headquarters at City Point, Va., most urgent and often most uncalled-for orders in regard to his operations, culminating in an order on the 9th relieving him, and directing him to turn over his command and to report himself to General Schofield, who was assigned to his place; an order unprecedented in military annals, but which, if unrevoked, the great captain would have obeyed with loyal single-heartedness. This order, though made out at the Adjutant-General's office in Washington, was not sent to General Thomas, and he did not know of its existence until told of it some years later by General Halleck, at San Francisco. He felt, however, that something of the kind was impending. General Halleck dispatched to him, on the morning of the 9th: "Lieutenant-General Grant expresses much dissatisfaction at your delay in attacking the enemy." His reply shows how entirely he understood the situation: "I feel conscious I have done everything in my power, and that the troops could not have been gotten ready before this. If General Grant should order me to be relieved, I will submit without a murmur." As he was writing this,- 2 o'clock in the afternoon of December 9th,- a terrible storm of freezing rain had been pouring down since daylight, and it kept on pouring and freezing all that day and a part of the next. That night General Grant notified him that the order relieving him which he had divined

[graphic]

MAJOR-GENERAL PATRICK R. CLEBURNE, C. S. A., KILLED AT FRANKLIN, NOVEMBER 30, 1864. (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH.)

which General Thomas was to rely for the task he now placed before himself-the destruction of Hood's army. It was an ill-assorted and heterogeneous mass; not yet welded into an army, and lacking a great proportion of the outfit with which to undertake an aggressive campaign. Horses, wagons, mules, pontoons, everything needed to mobilize an army, had to be obtained. At that time they did not exist at Nashville.

The next day Hood's columns appeared before the town, and took up their positions on a line of hills nearly parallel to those occupied by the Union army, and speedily threw up works, and prepared to defend their ground. Probably no commander ever underwent two weeks of greater anxiety and distress of mind than General Thomas during the interval between Hood's arrival and his precipitate departure from the vicinity of Nashville. The

[ocr errors]

was suspended. But he did not know who had been designated as his successor, nor the humiliating nature of the order. With this threat hanging over him; with the utter impossibility, in that weather, of making any movement; with the prospect that the labors of his whole life were about to end in disappointment, if not disaster, he never, for an instant, abated his energy or his work of preparation. Not an hour, day or night, was he idle.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »