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BATTLE OF FRANKLIN.
421 rushed forward upon Schofield's center (composed of the divisions of Ruger and Cox, of the Twenty-third Corps, about ten thousand strong), with the greatest impetuosity, in columns four deep, with a cloud of skirmishers in their front. Their appearance, so soon, was unexpected to Schofield, and it amounted to
FRANI almost a surprise. He was at Fort Granger, across the river, when the attack commenced, and could not return to his lines, so the command in the battle devolved on General Stanley, and Schofield could only watch the struggle from the ramparts, which he did with great anxiety.
Two brigades of Wagner's division of the Fourth Corps, were thrown forward, and held some slight breastworks a few hundred yards in front of the main line, whose key-point was Carter's Hill, a gentle eminence crossed by the Columbia and Nashville pike, leading through Franklin. Behind the main line at this point was Opdyke's brigade of Wood's division. Toward that hill, the National center, the heaviest blow was directed. The charge of Hood's columns was so impetuous and weighty, notwithstanding it was met by a fearful fire of musketry and artillery, that it was irresistible. The Union advance was hurled back in utter confusion upon the main line, and all but those who were killed or made prisoners, were driven through it. It not only opened to receive the fugitives, but it kept crumbling into a wider breach after they had passed by. The outworks held by Wagner, were gained, and his division was driven back on the stronger lines still held by Cox and Ruger. The hill was lost, and, with it, eight guns. The victors pressed on, and after a most desperate contest, forced their way within the second line and planted the Confederate flag upon the intrenchments.
All now seemed to be lost, and as the Confederates re-formed to follow up their victory, large numbers of the Nationals, inspired with a sense of defeat, were seen thronging toward the bridges over the Harpeth. At that critical moment Stanley rode forward to the head of Opdyke's brigade, in reserve, and ordered it, with Conrad's in support, to endeavor to stem the tumultuous torrent of pursued and pursuers. Opdyke's voice was instantly heard ringing out clearly above the tumult in an order for an advance. That order was instantly obeyed. Swiftly, steadily, and irresistibly, his men charged the exultant columns and drove them back with fearful slaughter. Conrad was close by to give assistance. The works and the guns were
THE BATTLE-FIELD AT FRANKLIN.
recovered, and three hundred prisoners and ten battle-flags were captured. The Union line was restored, and was not again broken. Again and again, IIood hurled his men against it, but it did not even bend. The struggle continued until long after dark, the Confederates working their way around to the National right, where Stanley's first division (Kimball's) gallantly repulsed them. It was almost midnight before the last shot was fired, and the Confederates, sorely disappointed and chagrined, gave up the contest. The advantage was with Schofield. Hood was checked, and had lost heavily. Ile was bereaved of thirteen general officers and over six thousand
Schofield had lost a little more than twenty-three hundred. Thomas thought it not prudent for him to risk another battle in the morning, and ordered him to retreat to Nashville. A little after midnight he left Franklin, and, notwithstanding they were sharply followed by Forrest after daybreak, the troops, with all their trains were safely within the lines at Nashville by noon on the day after the battle. The result of the contest, known as The BATTLE OF FRANKLIN, was quite as disastrous to Hood in the breaking of the spirit of his followers as in the loss of men. They were discouraged, and began to reflect again upon Hood's reckless waste of life at Atlanta, and the probabilities of defeat in all the future.
The writer visited the battle-field of Franklin early in May, 1866. He went down from Nashville by railway, at evening, with General James Brownlow, then adjutant-general of Tennessee, who was severely wounded in that battle while tighting for the Union. He was carried to the house of Dr. R. B. Cliffe (Schofield's head-quarters), where he was skillfully treated and tenderly nursed, until his recovery; soon after which he married the beautiful young daughter of his surgeon, who had been his attentive companion during his tedious weeks of suffering and convalescence. On the following morning I rode over the battle-field on horseback, with Captain James R. Cliffe, of the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry. The battle was fought chiefly on the farm of General Carter, who was wounded in sight of his own house, seen toward the left in the picture on the next page. After making that sketch, taken from the National line of breastworks, at the point where the Confederates broke through, we rode back to the village, crossed the Harpeth over a long bridge, and visited Fort Granger and the place near it where young Williams and Peter, the spies, were hung.“ We then returned to the village, where I dined with the family of Dr. Cliffe, who was absent.
1 In an official communication, recommending Opdyke for promotion, General Thomas said he - ** displayed the very highest qualities as a coinmander. It is not saying too much," he continued, " to declare that but for the skillful dispositions made by General Opdyke (all of which was done entirely on his own judgment), the promptness and readiness with which he brought his command into action at the critical and decisive moment, and the signal personal gallantry he displayed in a counter assault on the enemy, when he had broken our lines, disaster instead of victory would have fallen on us at Franklin.”
? The Nationals lost 189 killed, 1,033 wounded, and 1,104 missing, making a total of 2,326. General Stanley had a horse shot under him, and was severely wounded. General Bradly was also wounded, but less severely. Hood reported his entire loss, in round numbers, at 4,500. General Thomas officially reported it at 1,75 killed, 3,500 wounded, and 702 prisoners, making a total of 6,252. Hood lost the following general officers Cleburne, Williams, Adams, Gist, Strahl, and Granberry, killed; Brown, Carter, Manigault, Quarles. Cocker ell, and Scott wounded, and Gordon captured. Cleburne was called “the Stonewall Jackson of the West," and his loss was severely felt.
3 The building with machinery, seen in the foreground of the picture, was a cotton-press, from the frame of which we took several bullets. It stood upon the site of the severe struggle between the Confederates and Opdyke's brigade. Between it and the house in the distance, the fight was hottest.
• See page 120.
His accomplished wife was a most active patriot during the war. Dr. Cliffe's was almost the only Union family in Franklin. He was compelled to flee
for his life, at one time, but his patriotic wife remained and served the country and its cause nobly, in various ways. She kept up a continual communication with the Union commanders at Nashville, often going thither in per son with important information. On such occasions she rode an old blind mare, and traveled along unfrequented ways. She was several times arrested on suspicion of being an “enemy to the Confederacy,” but proof was always wanting. She was once in Forrest's custody; and at one time she was confined a week at Bragg's head-quarters in Murfreesboro', where she was paroled to report when called for, to be sent to Atlanta. Rosecrans sent Bragg in that direction so suddenly that he seems to have forgotten Mrs. Cliffe. Under every circumstance of peril, disdain and weariness, that noble woman stood firm in her allegiance to the Government and to Christian duty; and by her manifold public services, and labors and sacrifices for the comfort of the sick, and wounded, and dying Union soldiers, she won an unfading chaplet of honor and gratitude from her countrymen, which ought not to be unnoticed by the chronicler. That Christian matron, Mrs. V. C. Cliffe, belongs to the glorious army of patriotic women who gave their services to their imperiled country, and should never be forgotten.
When General Schofield reached Nashville, General A. J. Smith had arrived, with his two divisions, from Missouri, and by noon that day, the forces in the vicinity were put in battle array in an irreg. ular semicircular line upon the hills around the city, on the suuthern side of the Cumberland River. General A. J. Smith's troops (detachment of the Army of the Tennessee) were on the right, resting on the river; the Fourth Corps-commanded by General T. J. Wood, in the absence of the wounded Stanley—in the center; and the Twenty-third Corps, under General J. M. Schofield, on the left, also resting on the Cumberland. General Steedman had been called up from Chattanooga, with detachments of Sherman's army, and a brigade of negro troops under Colonel Thompson, in all five thousand men; and these were posted on the left of Schofield, to supply the place of the cavalry under Wilson, which was stationed at Edgefield, on the north side of the Cumberland. To these were added the pops composing the
• Dec. 1,
HOOD INVESTS NASHVILLE.
garrison of Nashville. Wood's line was in advance of all others, crossing the Granny White and Hillsboro' pikes; and his head-quarters were at the elegant residence of Mrs. Ackling, between those highways, a short distance from the city.'
Thomas was now superior to Hood in the number and character of his infantry, but was yet so deficient in cavalry, that he withheld his intended
blow against his adversary for about a fortnight, that he might strengthen that arm of the service, and be well provided with means for transportation. He expected to drive Hood, and he desired ample means for following and destroying his fugitive army. His delay was misunderstood and misinterpreted at Washington, and even at the head-quarters of the army. At each there was amazement and perplexity, because of Hood's audacious penetration of l'ennessee to its very heart, while the fate, and even the position, of Sheiman in Georgia was a hidden fact and problem. Grant finally started from City Point for Nashville, to seek a solution of the riddle that puzzled him; but at Washington City he was met by electrographs from the West that convinced him that Thomas was “the right man in the right place,” and he returned to his quarters satisfied that all was well in Tennessee.
Hood pressed up in full strength to invest Nashville, and on the morning of the 4th of December had formed his line, with his salient on Montgomery Hill, not more than six hundred yards from Wood's, at Thomas's center. His main line occupied the high ground on the southeast side of Brown's Creek, with his right resting on the Nolensville pike, and his left behind Richland Creek, retiring on the Hillsboro' pike, with cavalry on both flanks, extending to the river.
i General Thomas's army, before Nashville, was composed of the Fourth Corps, commanded by Geners) T. J. Wood, with Generals N. Kimball, W. L. Elliott, and S. Beatty as division commanders; the Twenty-third Corps, General J. M. Schofield, with Generals D. M. Couch and J. D. Cox as division commanders; detachment of the Army of the Tennessee, under General A. J. Smith, with Generals J. McArthur, K. Garrard, and J. B. Moore as division commanders; a provisional detachment under General J. B. Steedman, with Generals C. Crut and J. F. Miller as assistants. The negro brigade was commanded by Colonel Thompson, the garrison of Nashville by General J. F. Miller, and the quartermaster's division by General J. L. Donaldson. The cavalry corps was under the command of General J. H. Wilson, assisted by Generals J. T. Croston, Edward Hatch, P. W. Johnson, and J. T. Knipe.
? This is from a sketch made by the writer, at sunset, early in May, 1866, when the beautiful grounde around the mansion, which had been disfigured during the war, were restored, in a great degree, to their former appearance.
THOMAS MAKING READY FOR ACTION.
Dec. 4, 1864.
On the same day, there was a smart contest at the railway crossing of Overall's Creek, five miles north of Murfreesboro', where there was a blockhouse well-manned and armed. General Thomas was unwilling to relax his hold upon Chattanooga, and endeavored to keep open the railway communication between himself and Granger, at Stevenson. For that purpose, he placed General Rousseau, with eight thousand troops, in Fort Rosecrans, at Murfreesboro'. When the block-house at Overall's Creek was attacked by Bate's division of Cheatham's corps, General Milroy was sent out from Fort Rosecrans with a small force to its assistance. The little garrison held it firmly until Milroy came, when the assailants were quickly driven away.
During the next three days, Bate was re-enforced by two divisions of infantry and about twenty-five hundred cavalry, and then menaced Fort Rosecrans, but did not actually assail it. Buford's cavalry, after its batteries had opened briskly upon Murfreesboro', dashed into the town, but they were quickly expelled by a regiment of infantry, when they swept around by way of Lebanon, to the Cumberland, with the intention of getting upon Thomas's communications with Louisville by rail. The gunboats patrolling the river foiled their designs. On the same day, Milroy went out again with a stronger force, and fought the Confederates on the Wilkeson pike, routing them, with a loss on his part of two hundred and five men killed and wounded, and capturing from his antagonist over two hundred men and two guns.
For a week after this the cold was intense, and little of importance was done. The soldiers of both armies felt its severity much; but the Confederates, more thinly clad and more exposed than the Nationals, suffered most. The torpor of that week was advantageous to Thomas, and when, on the 14th, the cold abated, he was ready to take the offensive, and gave orders accordingly. Hood was then behind strong intrenchments, extending from the Hillsboro' pike around to the Murfreesboro' railroad.
Thomas ordered a general advance upon Hood from his right, early on the morning of the 15th,' while Steedman should make a vigorous demonstration from his left upon Hood's right, to distract him. The country that morning was covered with a dense fog, and it did not rise until near noon. This, with the hilly character of the ground, gave Thomas a great advantage, and Steedman's attack, east of the Nolensville pike, caused Hood to strengthen his right at the expense of his left and center, where the main blow was to be struck. When Steedman had completed his prescribed movement, with some loss, General Smith pressed forward, en echelon, along the line of the Hardin pike, while Wilson's cavalry made a wide circuit to gain the flank of Hood's infantry on his left. Johnson's division moved along the Charlotte pike, on the extreme right, and attacked and routed Chalmer's cavalry; and late in the afternoon they assaulted a battery at Bell's Landing, eight miles below Nashville, in conjunction with gun-boats under Lieutenant-commander Fitch. The battery was not captured, but it was abandoned that night.
Meanwhile, Hatch's division, moving on Smith's flank, with General
1 See note, page 549, volume II.