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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

Here is a small surgeon’s kit that belonged to and was used by John H. Lyon’s, a surgeon with the 6th Texas Infantry (CS). There were at least seven surgeons that served with the 6th Texas.
The 6th Texas fought, among other places, at Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign, and the Battles of Franklin and Nashville.

At Chickamauga, the 6th TX fought with the 10th and 15th TX Infantries.  “Our whole loss was 20 killed, 95 wounded, and 28 missing.”

The following men were wounded at Franklin (11/30/64) and may have been tended to by Lyon’s:

  • J.F. McGilton, severely wounded in right leg, amputated
  • Steven E. Rice, was captured five times during the war; was a Captain
  • John Stevenson, severe wound in right elbow

In July 1863, the 6th Texas was assigned to Major General Pat Cleburne’s Division of the Army of Tennessee, Granbury’s Brigade.

Here are some pictures of the kit. It is part of the Kraig McNutt Civil War Collection.

“I feel like one who witnesses a bitter wrong; a monstrous injustice. Call it glorious to die a horrible death, surrounded by an awful butchery, a scanty burial by . . . [enemy] hands, and then total oblivion, name blotted out and forever forgotten – where is the glory?”

- Captain James A. Sexton, 72 Illinois Infantry, after viewing the hideously mutilated dead in the earthworks ditch at Franklin.

- Quoted in Courage Under Fire, Wiley Sword (2007): 26.

As mentioned in the last post, the Confederate Army of Tennessee marched across over open ground for over a mile before they finally reached the Federal line near downtown Franklin. A soldier in the 104th Ohio wrote about that scene.  Hess writes about this kind of troop assault movement then quotes the Ohio soldier:

When the terrain and vegetation allowed the troops to fire at longer ranges, they could maximize the damage done to attacking forces. At the battle of Franklin, Confederate division advanced over open, rolling ground for a mile before they attacked heavy fortifications. The Federals were ready for them and opened fire as soon as they could. Andrew Moon of the 104th Ohio scampered over the battlefield that night before his regiment pulled out of the works.

“Well, for 400 yards in front, I could hardly step without stepping on dead and wounded men. The ground was in a perfect slop and mud with blood and, oh, such cries that would come up from the wounded was awful.”

The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat. Earl J. Hess, p. 156


Massed troop formation in the re-enactment of the Battle of Franklin.

General Hood reported the loss of the army of Tennessee at 4,500. The loss of Schofield’s army numbered 2,326 killed, wounded and missing. Of this number, 1,104 were captured by the Confederates, about 600 of them by Brown and Cleburne from the enemy’s line in advance of his intrenchments.

Gen. J. D. Cox says the Federal loss in killed was “trifling everywhere but near the center,” the point assailed by Cleburne and Brown. No report with list of casualties was ever made, and no data exist for the ascertainment of the actual losses of these two divisions, but it must have been 40 per cent in killed, wounded and missing. In Quarles’ Tennessee brigade of Stewart’s corps, the loss was just as great, and the death rate in Stewart’s and Cheatham’s corps was out of the usual proportion. It was great enough to make Tennessee a land of mourning.

The attacks of the Confederates were repeated at intervals until dark, and on part of the line until 9 o’clock. At midnight the Federal forces were withdrawn and marched to Nashville.

After our dead comrades were buried and the wounded of both armies provided for, the army of Tennessee moved forward to the front of Nashville, where on the 2d of December a line of battle was formed and intrenchments provided. Smith’s brigade of Cleburne’s division came up, and Ector’s brigade of Stewart’s corps rejoined the army, which was now 23,053 strong, opposed to an army under Gen. George H. Thomas of more than three times that number.

Source: Confederate Military History Volume 8:
Tennessee Chapter X

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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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