Battle of Franklin

On November 30, 1864, the Battle of Franklin was a 5 hour battle that started at 4 pm with two armies totaling 54,000 soldiers on the southern side of Franklin, Tennessee. The Confederate Army is chasing the Union Army with the intent of destroying it before it reached Nashville.

The Union Army with Union General John Schofield, was fleeing back to Nashville, where the Union Army of Major General George H. Thomas was stationed. The Union Army of 27,000 men verses the Confederate Army of 27,000 men.

In Spring Hill, almost getting trapped, the Union Army escaped during the night and took the road to Franklin, Tennessee. This Union Army walked right past the Confederates while they slept.




The Confederate Commanding Officer, General Hood just lost a good opportunity to significantly hurt the Union Army. General Hood was a graduate of the US Military Academy, a firm believer in frontal attacks and was known for his superb record with his "Texas Brigade".

The Confederates marched in rapid pursuit of the retreating Union Army. The Confederate Cavalry would harass the marching army trying to slow it down.


The Union Army reached Franklin, Tennessee around 1 am on November 30, 1864. The Carter House was used as General Schofield's Headquarters. The Union Army quickly formed a defensive line on the southern edge of town in the old defenses built by the Union Army in the spring of 1863. The army had to stop at Franklin because of bridges that needed to be replanked in order for the 800 wagon supply train to cross.

The Union Army had small groups of soldiers stay behind and skirmish with the Confederates to slow their march.

Around 4 pm the Battle of Franklin began with a frontal attack against the Union perimeter. Two Union brigades of about 2000 soldiers under control of Land and Conrad had originally set up defenses in front of the main Union defense and were suppose to fall back and combine.

The Confederate General Hood saw this small line of defense and knew what to do. The Confederates charged and overran the Union front line causing their retreat back to the main lines. The Confederates followed them, using them as a shield to penetrate the lines.

The air was still and the smoke from the cannon and gun fire hung in the air, making it hard to see very far. Once inside there was brutal hand to hand combat. The breached line of defense was resealed and the trapped attackers were captured, killed, or repelled by a spontaneous counter-attack.

The above picture was behind the Union front line at the breach where the Confederate soldiers were trapped and killed. This was where the most brutal fighting took place. It was hand to hand fighting, and men were getting bayoneted, clubbed, and choked. You couldn't walk without stepping on someone.

Around midnight, with the bridge replanked, the Federal Army retreated to Nashville to join the forces of Major General George Thomas. The Confederate Army was still trying to eliminate the Union Army and followed to fight The Battle of Nashville.

The Confederate losses at the Battle of Franklin were 7,000 men. The biggest loss was in the commanders. There were 15 of the 28 Generals lost and 65 field grade officers were lost. After this battle and the next battle at Nashville, the Confederate Tennessee Army will be reduced to less than half of its original size and destroyed as a fighting force for the rest of the war.

There were more men killed in this 5 hour battle than in the 2 day Battle of Shiloh, the 3 day Battle of Stones River, and the 7 day Campaign in Virginia for the Federal Army.

The Union casualties were 2,500 men. 189 men were killed, 1,033 were wounded, 1,104 captured and 287 cavalry casualties. Only 1 Federal General was wounded and that was Major General David Stanley.

The Battle of Franklin has been called bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It was also known as the Gettysburg of the West. It was one of the few night battles and was one of the smallest battlefields measuring 2 miles long by 1 and 1/2 miles wide.

In the spring of 1866, the McGavock Family of Franklin donated 2 acres near Carnton for a Confederate Cemetery where 1,481 Confederate soldiers were laid to rest.

The Union soldiers were buried in trenches on the battlefield, and some time later was removed to Stones River National Cemetery at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

On the original site of the Battle of Franklin is a Visitors Center and museum. You will watch a film to prepare you for the tour, and afterwards walk through the museum.

The address is 1140 Columbia Ave, Franklin, TN, 37064, or call 615-791-1861. You can park behind the Carter House, where the Franklin Battlefield Visitors Center is located. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm.


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