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The Late Battle at Franklin.


November and December 1864

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, December 3, 1864.





NASHVILLE, Dec. 2.—I have received full accounts of the late battle at Franklin. It is one which must be chronicled is one of the most brilliant of the war. For three days sharp skirmishing was kept up during the retirement of our army from Duck river to Franklin, during which time a multiplicity of exploits and successes resulted to the national arms.

General Cox conducted the movement of the 29th ult., and claimed a splendid victory at Spring Hill, which General Wilson’s cavalry gained, and a series of important successes over General Forrest’s advance, under Roddy, on the Pike road, between Triune and Spring Hill.

During the afternoon of the 30th, the rebel army sorely pressed us under Hood, who had Cheatham’s and Stewart’s corps, and portion of Dick Taylor’s command, numbering in all over 22,000 men.

Owing to Cox’s gallant check at Spring Hill, a portion of the 4th and 23d corps were enabled to gain Franklin early in the day, when they threw up a line of works extending from one end to the other of the curves of the river, behind which our entire infantry command took position.

At precisely four P. M., the entire rebel force made a charge, and succeeding [sic] in making a temporary break in our center, commanded by Wagner. With characteristic impetuosity the enemy, composing Cheatham’s corps, dashed into the breastworks, and operating with the attacking party on their left, attempted to envelope [sic] and destroy our right.

In the nick of time the troops of Wagner were rallied, and throwing their whole force upon the rebel columns, drove back the storming party in great disorder, capturing several hundred prisoners.

Four times after the rebels charged in three lines, but were repulsed as often with great slaughter. The rebels numbered at least two to our one. Nearly half of the 4th and 23d Corps were in reserve and our breastworks were not over knee high, and the rebel loss in killed his three times our own, while our their wounded is at least six times more than ours; most of our men being wounded in the head, arms and body.

The artillery fire of the enemy was made with great precision, but their ammunition consisted chiefly of shot and shell, while, for two hours, immense quantities of more murderous missiles were hurled with fearful fury into the rebel lines.

All attempts of the rebels to gain a permanent advance were frustrated, and at dark the Federal position was unchanged, while the rebels retired under cover of the woods south of the Columbia pike.

The rebel loss, as before stated is fully 4,000, including over 1,000 prisoners, an unusual number of which were officers.

Our loss reached a total of about 1,000.

An artillery duel was kept up until midnight, when our troops commenced crossing the Harpeth river, bringing all our trains and paraphernalia over in safety before daylight. The army then retired to within four miles of this city, at which point our front line confronts the enemy.

The falling back of the army is in accordance with the programme, and the battle of Franklin, although one of the most brilliant of the war, was an impromptu affair, and brought about owing to the necessity to check the rebels, and ensure the safe crossing of the river by our trains.

Late additional reports received increase the magnitude of this late victory at Franklin. Thirty stands of colors were captured by the Union forces.

General Stanley, commanding the 4th Corps, had a very narrow escape, having had his horse killed under him, and was shot in the right shoulder, the ball traversing the back and going out at the left shoulder. He is in the city, and although suffering considerably, is still attending to duty.

Is confirmed that Pat Clebourn or Claibourne [sic-Cleburne], of Tennessee, is killed.

General Kimball is commanding on our front and right flank.

Commodore Fitch is here with a fleet of boats and ironclads. Sufficient forces have arrived to ensure not only the safety of Nashville, but another Union victory in case of battle under any circumstances.

Military men all unite in the opinion that Generals Stanley and Schofield conducted the retirement from Pulaski in the face of the enemy with admirable skill, crowning all with the magnificent Union victory at Franklin.