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A Severe Battle at Franklin, Tenn.
HOOD DEFEATED BY THOMAS.
The Rebels Desperately Assault Our Works.
They are Repulsed with Fearful Carnage.
Six Thousand Rebels Killed and Wounded.
TWELVE HUNDRED PRISONERS CAPTURED
Our Loss Less Than One Thousand.
MAGNIFICENT BEHAVIOR OF OUR TROOPS
Full and Graphic Account from Our Special Correspondent.
Washington, Thursday, Dec.1.
The following official dispatch concerning the report of the victory in Tennessee, has been received at headquarters:
FRANKLIN, Tenn., Wednesday, Nov.30.
The enemy made a heavy and persistent attack with two corps, commencing at 4 P.M., and lasting till after dark. He was repulsed at all points with heavy loss — probably of five or six thousand men. Our loss is probably not more than one-fourth of that number. We have captured about one thousand prisoners, including one Brigadier-General.
(Signed,) JOHN SCHOFIELD
OUR SPECIAL ACCOUNT.
Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.
FOUR MILES SOUTH OF NASHVILLE.
Gen. SCHOFIELD yesterday fought one of the prettiest fights of the war, resulting most disastrously to the rebels, with little loss to ourselves. After three days’ skirmishing, the rebels crowded our first line of works yesterday afternoon, and at 4 P.M. made a most desperate attack on our right and centre, forcing our lines to our breastworks, which were thrown up from river to river in an open field on the Cumberland Pike, which ran through the centre of the field.
At least half the rebel force engaged endeavored to pierce our centre, and come down viciously on WAGNER’S Division, which, after desperate fighting, fell back, and MANY’S rebel division, of FRANK CHEATAM’S corps, got inside our works and captured two guns. Our centre was not broken, however, and, better still, Gen. WAGNER successfully rallied our troops, who charged on the enemy, recaptured the two guns, and drove the division over the breastworks, capturing one entire brigade and its commander.
At 4:30 o’clock the battle was waged with unabating vigor, the enemy having made during a half hour several attempts to break our centre.
The Federal position was a magnificent one, and the result of these four days’ work were magnificently grand.
All this while the rebels had appeared in front of our right. The plan was to pierce our centre and crush our right wing before dark. A portion of our infantry were engaged three-quarters of an hour firing on the rebel columns who stood their ground like madmen. During the every charge made on our right and centre, volleys of grape and canister were hurled into their lines, and only darkness prevented their sacrifice being more awful. It is said that no canister shot was used by the rebels during the day, but fired shot and shell.
After the first break of WAGNER’S division and its recovery, our line never budged a step. All was quiet after 10 P.M. It was not only one of the prettiest but cleanest battles of the war. The excessive slaughter of the enemy was owing to our wholesale use of canister and grape, and our selection of ground. The battle was fought in an open field, with no trees or undergrowth, or other interruption. The enemy’s loss in killed and wounded approximates 7,000, and we have over 1,200 prisoners, and one general officer and several field officers. The Colonel of the Fifteenth Mississippi, a Northern man, of Illinois, was wounded and taken prisoner. Four-fifths of his regiment were killed, wounded or captured. Our loss does not reach a thousand, hors du cambat. Gen. Bradley, of Illinois, while gallantly leading his troops, was severely wounded in the shoulder. Our loss in field officers is very small. Our troops behaved handsomely. SCHOFIELD commanded on the field, STANLEY on the right, and Cox on the left. Gen. Stanley was wounded slightly in the neck, but remained on the field and is all right to-day.
I have told you all along the programme of Gen. Thomas would electrify you, and this is but the epilogue of the battle to come off.
After our dead, wounded and prisoners were cared for, our army fell back to this point, and are in line of battle while I write. Up to this time, 3 P.M., the enemy has not made his appearance. The Third Corps of Veterans are in readiness, and a battle is expected before daylight to-morrow. All Government work is suspended, and all are under arms, from Gen. DONALDSON down to the unscientific laborers.
The falling back of our troops was accomplished at 8 o’clock this morning, and bridges burned across Harpeth River to retard the transportation of rebel supplies. The cavalry was handled prettily by Gen. WILSON, between Spring Hill and Triune.
A.J. SMITH’s corps is in line of battle, and the situation is particularly grand. Forts Negley, Morton, Cairo and Houston are alive, and the infantry movement perfectly satisfactory. Something must immediately transpire, as Gen. THOMAS is ready to strike no matter how the rebels move.
BENJ. C. TRUMAN
The 4th and 23rd Corps (U.S.), respectively served at Franklin.
Here’s some background the 4th Corps during the Civil War:
Missionary Ridge; Orchard Knob; Dandridge; Dalton; Rocky Face Ridge; Resaca; Cassville; Adairsville; New Hope Church; Pickett’s Mills; Kenesaw Mountain; Smyrna Camp Ground; Vining’s Station; Peach Tree Creek; Siege Of Atlanta; Jonesboro; Lovejoy’s Station; Spring Hill; Franklin; Nashville; Occupation Of Texas.
This corps was composed of fighting regiments. Of the regiments in the Western armies, take the ones that sustained the greatest losses in battle, and it will be found that more of them were in the Fourth Corps than in any other. Although all of their fighting was not done while in the Fourth Corps, it was done either in it or in the two corps which were consolidated in order to form the Fourth.
On October 9, 1863, the Fourth Corps was organized by the consolidation of the Twentieth (McCook’s) and Twenty-first (Crittenden’s) Corps, in compliance with the President’s order of September 28th. Though newly-formed, it was composed of veteran brigades whose battle flags were scarred with the marks of hard fought fields; within this new command they were destined to wave amid the smoke and fire of many more. The command of the Fourth Corps was given to General Gordon Granger, the man who marched his division to Chickamauga with no other orders or direction than “the sound of the enemy’s cannon.” The three divisions of this new corps were placed under the commands of Generals Palmer, Sheridan, and Wood. Soon after its organization the corps went into action at Missionary Ridge, where it distinguished itself by its brilliant and successful charge up the heights. In this battle the two divisions of Sheridan and Wood lost 280 killed, 2,078 wounded, and 12 missing; total, 2,370, or more than half the casualties at Missionary Ridge. The first division, under command of General Cruft, was also engaged.
During the following winter the corps marched to the relief of Knoxville, a campaign memorable for the suffering, hunger, and hardships endured by the men. In May, 1864, it moved on the Atlanta campaign, General Howard commanding the corps, and Generals Stanley, Newton, and Wood the divisions. Its hardest fighting during that campaign occurred at Pickett’s Mills, and in the unsuccessful assault on Kenesaw Mountain.
After the evacuation of Atlanta, the Fourth and Twenty-third Corps, under General Thomas, marched northward to confront Hood’s forces, while Sherman, with the main army, wended his way, unmolested, to the sea. General Stanley was then in command of the Fourth Corps, General Howard haying been promoted to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, upon the death of Mac Pherson; Kimball, Wagner, and Wood were in command of the divisions. On November 20, 1864, a few days before the battle of Spring Hill, the corps numbered 14,715 present for duty; about 2,200 more joined before the battle of Franklin. In that battle the Confederates received the bloodiest repulse of the war, their men fighting with unusual desperation, while twelve of their generals were killed or wounded in their unsuccessful attack on the Union intrenchments. At Franklin, Opdycke’s Brigade of the Fourth Corps won special distinction by its promptness and gallantry in retaking a part of the works which the enemy had seized. General Stanley was severely wounded in this action, and General Thomas J. Wood succeeded to his place.
General Wood had served with honor in the armies of the Ohio, and the Cumberland, from the commencement of the war. He commanded the Fourth Corps in its last battle –its last victory, at Nashville. His division generals in that engagement were Kimball, Elliott, and Beatty; the casualties in the corps were 135 killed, 834 wounded and 22 missing; total, 991. The corps joined in the pursuit of Hood’s defeated army, after which General Wood assembled it at Huntsville, Ala., arriving there January 5, 1865. On March 15th it moved into East Tennessee, in order to prevent the possible escape of Lee’s and Johnston’s armies, returning in April to Nashville, where it remained until June 16th, when it was ordered to New Orleans, en route for Texas. Although the war had virtually ended, the Fourth Corps remained in Texas during the rest of 1865, forming a part of Sheridan’s Army of Occupation. The most of the regiments were, however, mustered out in December, 1865, in time for the men to spend Christmas in their homes.
Author Benson Bobrick has recently completed a biography on Union General George H. Thomas titled Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas.
It has been many years since an authoritative and reliable biography on George H. Thomas has been published. Bobrick’s work will fill that gap. The author considers Thomas to be one of the best Union generals.
Here is a link to a recent interview with Bobrick about his new book. Look for a book review coming soon.
The Federal Army suffered roughly 200 killed in the Battle of Franklin (30 November 1864). Most of these men were taken to Murfreesboro and interred in the Stone’s River National Cemetery.