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Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 5.07.32 PMAmazon says (partially): Twenty-five Hours to Tragedy: The Battle of Spring Hill and Operations on November 29, 1864 – Precursor to the Battle of Franklin is a compilation of eyewitness testimony linked by narrative telling the story of the great missed opportunity by the Confederate Army of Tennessee on November 29, 1864. Led by General John Bell Hood, a Confederate envelopment around Columbia, Tennessee left Union Major General John McAllister Schofield’s Fourth and Twenty-third Army corps strung out and beyond supporting distance of their wagon train. One lone division that had been sent to Spring Hill to protect the Union Army’s wagon train found itself confronting nearly 25,000 Confederate soldiers by mid-afternoon. While Union Major General David S. Stanley did all in his power to stop the Confederate attack, it seemed nothing could save them. Suddenly the fog of war set in, and as the sun sank on the western horizon, the Confederate high command found itself paralyzed with inaction, indecision, poor judgment and finally darkness.

 

We started in good time over frozen ground and ice though the pike was tolerable good only in spots. All day we have passed the wrecks of Hood’s fleeing army, signs of hot pursuit. We reached Spring Hill at 4 p.m. and go in camp just before it commences to rain again. The little village is very much dilapidated to what it was when we first saw it. It was near that the Rebs came near cutting off our retreat up to Franklin. Made a search to find commissary wagons but fail and have to crumb it scantily at that. Rain increases and our bed is wet as has been for sometime.

A.L. Ewing (63rd Indiana Infantry) diary for Dec 20th, 1864

Source: The Eli Lilly Library, Indiana University

Upon learning the entire Federal army had escaped Spring Hill during the night of the 29th, C.S.A. Gen John Bell Hood spoke these words on the morning of the 30th, “the best move of my career as a soldier come to naught.”


Last night passed off quietly. At 8 we are packed ready to move. The forces behind us have just moved out. The enemy have been trying all morning to get possession of the ford, consequently several artillery fights as well as skirmishes today with musketry in fact has been a noisy war-like day. Eve: The enemy just before dusk charged and drove our skirmishers away from the ford but they held on to part of their line. The operation made a great rattling of musketry and supposing the enemy to be attacking in force our Regt was ordered double quick up to the scene of action. The artillery thundered away for a while, and with darkness relapsed into silence. In our movement our Regt was very much exposed to the raking fire through its whole length yet the Rebs did not take advantage of it. Soon after dark we withdrew in silence and was on the march back to Franklin a distance of 23 miles. Just before we got to Spring Hill we could see a long string of lights on our right not far off, and supposing it was the 4th Corps in camp we were looking forward to an immediate rest when to our surprise we were told that it was the lights of a rebble camp. Men ordered not to speak nor let their accoutrements rattle, we were so close we could see their camp guards (night guards).

Written by Addison Lee Ewing, Captain, Co F, 63rd Indiana Infantry
(Previous posts related to Ewing)

Source: Ewing Mss. Manuscripts department, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

Hood’s headquarters during the Spring Hill campaign.

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The Civil war Education Association is hosting an upcoming (Nov 3-5)  field and walking tour of the middle Tennessee Civil War battlefields of Columbia, Spring Hill and Franklin. The tour will be led by the respected Franklin historian, Eric Jacobson.

Click here to learn more.

Historian Eric Jacobson leads a Civil War tour.

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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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