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Capt. William F. Gibson, Co I, 8th Arkansas Infantry

A descendant of William F. Gibson sent me this picture of the Arkansas Confederate who served in Govan’s Brigade, Cleburne’s Division while at Franklin. The 8th Arkansas Infantry fought near the Cotton Gin.

According to family records and post-war accounts, Gibson was carrying the colors of the 8th Arkansas when the Confederate assault upon the Cotton Gin took place.  He was shot through the face with a ball, and in the stomach.  Lying on the field, and bleeding to death, a Union soldier noticed the wounded Confederate and was apparently going to finish him off when another Union soldier noticed Gibson was wearing a Masonic pin [see pic of an 1863 Masonic pin]. Despite being enemies on the field their Masonic fraternity rose beyond the blood of the battlefield.

The nearly fatally wounded Gibson was allowed to be carried to a local resident’s home, the Cummins’ – whose house was used as a civilian post-battle hospital. A local resident named Laura attended to Gibson and saved his life.  Mrs. Lucy Cummins attempted to disguise the Confederate soldier from Arkansas who wanted to escape from Franklin and take his chances of recovering further south.

However, his flight to Columbia took place the same time the Federal Army came back through Franklin in mid December as they were chasing Hood’s whipped Army of Tennessee that had just been decimated at Franklin and Nashville (Dec 15-16, 1864).  Gibson was captured and sent to Camp Chase in Ohio as a Union prisoner of war.

Gibson survived the war and moved back to Arkansas where he died in 1907. There is a lot more to this story. Stay tuned.

The Cummins’ home

John L. Russell fought with the 6th Arkansas Company C., at Franklin. He was part of Cleburne’s Division, Govan’s Brigade. Company C was known as the Dallas Rifles.

The 6th Arkansas also fought with the 2nd-15th, 5th-13th, 7th, 8th, and 19th-24th Arkansas regiments. This regiment saw heavy action around the Coton Gin at Franklin.

The 6th Arkansas regimental flag looked like this is in the Autumn of 1862.

Picture Credit: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy (p. 259).

Forty-three of Govan’s Brigade are buried at McGavock, fifteen of those are from the 6th Arkansas; the most of all the Arkansas regiments.

Speaking of the action the Arkansas regiments saw at Franklin, including Russell’s 6th, Jacobson writes:

“Rebel troops, likely from Cleburne’s Division, pounced on the battery’s four guns [i.e., the guns of the 1st Battery, Kentucky Light Artillery] and hurriedly began turning them around to fire on the Federals. But the Confederates had a serious problem on their hands. When the Yankee artillerists had bounded away, they took with them the friction primers needed to fire the rifled guns. The crafty Southern infantrymen looked to improvise. A Federal officer nearby saw them pouring gunpowder ‘from their musket cartridges’ into the vent holes.”

A friction primer (above) was a small brass tube filled with powder, inserted in the vent and used to ignite the main charge.

John Russell, 6th Arkansas

Frank Gray and John Russell of Co. C. 6th Arkansas Infantry.  Twenty Nine year old John Russell was the Uncle of 21 year old Frank Gray. They are buried side by side in the Arkansas Section, Grave 12 & 11 respectfully.  Source attribute for this info: T. Burgess.

Extra notes:

According to this web site: John L. Russell was a private when he enlisted on 3 June 1861 at Little Rock, Arkansas; in the Dallas Rifles. He was transferred from Co I, 30 June 1862. Russell was captured 10 October 1862 at Harrodsburg, KY. Then sent to Vicksburg, MS for exchange 5 Dec 1862. He was 26 years old when he was exchanged 22 Dec 1862.

Additional reading:

Calvin L. Collier, First In – Last Out: The Capitol Guards, Arkansas Brigade (Unit history and muster rolls for Company A.)

The 8th Arkansas fought for Govan’s Brigade, Cleburne”s Division at Franklin.  Four known-dead are buried at McGavock Cemetery. The Captain of the 8th Arkansas, Samuel L. McAllester was captured at Franklin. The colors of the 8th, below, were presented to the 8th by the women of Jacksonport, Arkansas in the summer of 1862.

There is a golden embroidered inscription in the center of the flag that reads, “March on! March on! All hearts are resolved on victory or death!”

The boys of the 8th Arkansas marched this flag into the Federal line just west of the Cotton Gin as they took fire from the 104th Ohio and the 6th Ohio Battery.

Picture credit: Arms and Equipment of The Confederacy (p. 258)

The 8th Arkansas fought for Govan’s Brigade, Cleburne”s Division at Franklin.  Four known-dead are buried at McGavock Cemetery. The Captain of the 8th Arkansas, Samuel L. McAllester was captured at Franklin. The colors of the 8th, below, were presented to the 8th by the women of Jacksonport, Arkansas in the summer of 1862.

There is a golden embroidered inscription in the center of the flag that reads, “March on! March on! All hearts are resolved on victory or death!”

The boys of the 8th Arkansas marched this flag into the Federal line just west of the Cotton Gin as they took fire from the 104th Ohio and the 6th Ohio Battery.

Picture credit: Arms and Equipment of The Confederacy (p. 258)

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Kraig McNutt is the author and publisher of this blog. He has been blogging on Franklin for over five years and on the Civil War in general since 1995. Email him.

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Summary of the Battle of Franklin

The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864 in Franklin, Tennessee; in Williamson County. John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee (around 33,000 men) faced off with John M. Schofield's Army of the Ohio and the Cumberland (around 30,000 men). Often cited as "the bloodiest five hours" during the American Civil War, the Confederates lost between 6,500 - 7,500 men, with 1,750 dead. The Federals lost around 2,000 - 2,500 men, with just 250 or less killed. Hood lost 30,000 men in just six months (from July 1864 until December 15). The Battle of Franklin was fought mostly at night. Several Confederate Generals were killed, including Patrick Cleburne, and the Rebels also lost 50% of their field commanders. Hood would limp into Nashville two weeks later before suffering his final defeat before retreating to Pulaski in mid December. Hundreds of wounded Confederate soldiers were taken to the John and Carrie McGavock home - Carnton - after the battle. She became known as the Widow of the South. The McGavock's eventually donated two acres to inter the Confederate dead. Almost 1,500 Rebel soldiers are buried in McGavock Confederate Cemetery, just in view of the Carnton house.

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