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Also auctioned off in 2013 was this important letter from a Union cavalry soldier:

Pvt. Albert Swap, 7th Illinois Cavalry, Co C, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 30, 1864

[The 7th Illinois was part of Hatch's Division, Coon's Brigade. They served with the 2nd IA, 6th & 9th Illinois, and the 12th TN Cavs.]

“…you said you suppose Chas Dewey would arrive before I received this message of yours, so he did, but I regret to say he is among the missing on our trip to this place. We left Memphis on the 17th and was 9 days on the River there was several men drowned before we arrived at his place and C. L. D. and John R. Chapman of Co. C are among the missing. The last I saw of them was about two miles above New Madrid, Mo….

It has now been 62 days since the Regt. went out on this scout, they are now about 40 miles from this place at Columbia where they are having some very hard fighting with Hood’s Army. Genl. Thomas is out there with two corps of Infantry but the rebs still drive him back. We could hear very heavy cannonading in that direction for about an hour this morning. There is going to be some very hard fighting about this city in a short time if they keep driving our men back. We are camped about two miles from the city and they are going to move us in towards the city as they think we are exposed to a raid from the Lebanon Pike…

There is considerable excitement here today the Rebel General Hood is still driving our men they are now within 20 miles of this place. Some of our men who have come from the front seem to think that Genl. Thomas is falling back to get the rebels where he can gain some advantage over them while others seem to think they are two strong for us, if the latter there will be some hard fighting and then we will either have to fall back or be gobbled but we must always look on the bright side of everything…

But alas how many of our Brave soldiers are falling hourly as I am penning you these poor lines, the sullen booming of the cannon that I can hear very plainly speaks of death…to the soldier…”




  • Charles L. Dewey was from Mendota, Ill; he survived the war. A total of eight men with last named Dewey fought int he 7th ILL Cav; six in Company C, like Charles.
  • John R. Chapman, Co C., also survived the war.

Levi Greathouse, Co H, 42nd Illinois Infantry mustered in on October 18, 1864. hardly six weeks later he saw his first action at Franklin, then at Nashville two weeks later. He was apparently severely wounded during this action as he died of his wounds February 12, 1865 in Huntsville.


From Major Atwater’s official report after Franklin:

After dark the Forty-second Illinois was placed on picket and I was detailed as officer
of the day, and before daylight of the 30th, the army all having passed, I
withdrew the pickets an rejoined my brigade, and arrived at Franklin at
noon, where we were soon placed in position on the left of the Columbia
pike, with orders to throw up works and to hold them. Not having many told
we could not built very good works, and consequently could not hold them
long after the enemy came upon us, although we did not leave them until the
right and left both gave away, and we were obliged to fall back over a level
ground a distance of at least 600 yards and the enemy in very strong force
closely following us and continually firing upon us; upon arriving at a main
and strong line of works in our rear I halted and formed the regiment and
fought as well as possible until long after dark, with a loss of 55 killed,
wounded, and missing. During the fight of the 30th one of my recruits shot
down a rebel color-bearer and took his flag from him, but was soon ordered
by a colonel in the Twenty-third Corps to turn it over to him, which he
did and during the night two more of my regiment went out in front of the
works and found three rebel flags, which they brought in with one of
the rebel soldiers, who was on picket, as a prisoner, but as soon as they
came into our lines an officer of the Twenty-third Corps ordered them to
give him the colors, and like good soldiers they obeyed the order.

So far as the conduct of the officers and, men of the regiment is concerned
I have only to speak of it in the highest terms.

About midnight of the 30th we quietly retired from Franklin to Nashville,
where we arrived at 10 a. m., very nearly tired out.

I have the honor to be, sir, your very obedient servant,

Maj. Forty-second Illinois, Cmdg. Regt.

eBay is selling an 1864 dated GOLD Presentation Cane from 96th Illinois Infantry Regiment to Brigadier General WALTER CHILES WHITAKER.

The gold cane top is engraved: “Presented to Brig. Genl. W. C. WHITTAKER by the Enlisted Men of the 96th Regt. Ill Vol. Infy. Dec. 25, 1864″

The sides are engraved with Battle Honors of his commands:

Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Nashville; New Hope Church, Franklin; Lookout Mountain, Resaca; Chickamauga, Rocky Face Ridge.

Screen Shot 2012-12-25 at 2.58.04 PM

I love reading original letters from Civil War soldiers. Time and time again you will read that a soldier has just returned from post duty.  Perhaps a monotonous and routine task for a common soldier.

May 30, 1863 “Went on Out Post this morning we have to go on every other day while we stay out letter from Sarah”

EXCERPT from the Civil War diary of William R. Townsend, 42nd Illinois Infantry, Co. E

Artist Forbes, Edwin, 1839-1895, helps us imagine a scene in this pencil drawing. Access to the LOC gallery of Forbes images can be found here.


  • “A scene in winter camp. A squad of troops have just returned from the picket line and are seeking their quarters.” on mount.
  • Part of “Life studies of the great army.” Plate 15.
  • Gift, J.P. Morgan, 1919 (DLC/PP-1919:R1.1.309)
  • Forms part of: Morgan collection of Civil War drawings.

Raleigh, North Carolina,
April 20, 1865,

Nov. the 28 we was ordered to Nashville to defend the place agains Rebel Gen. Hood. December 1 we got there and dug trenches 2 days and 1 night. Dec. the 4 & 5 considerable skirmishing. The 6 & 7 considerable firing on picket with a little fight. We lost several….the 15 Thomas went for them and it was a hard fight with a loss to the Rebs of 12 hundred prisoners 18 pieces of cannon 8 battle flags which we got. The 16th the fight gets harder our loss 1000 killed and wounded. Rebs loss 600 hundred killed & wounded. We captured 5000 prisoners 30 canon and several battle flags. The 17th Hood has left our front and skedaddled. Thomas after him. The 19th we was ordered to move we marched to Murfreesboro 2 days….went 9 miles the other side of Huntsville, Alabama the track being torn up. We had to march the rest of the way. The 27th we crossed the Tenn. River on transports and run the rebs out of Decatur . Our cavalry captured 4 canon then we started after Hoods pontoon train but hearing that he had made a crossing below we lay at Cortland a few days…April the 3 we started for Goldsborough where Sherman lay…the 10 we started for Raleigh…the 13 encamped for to make peace for Johnston has promised to surrender the papers has been sent to Washington to be signed…

129th Illinois Infantry, Co. I.

Source: Nate Sanders auction


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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.

Make sure to check-out the Google Map of the Franklin Civil War Guide.

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