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The 4th and 23rd Corps (U.S.), respectively served at Franklin.

Here’s some background the 23rd Corps during the Civil War:

Lenoir; Blue Springs; Campbell’s Station; Knoxville; Mossy Creek; Dandridge; Walker’s Ford; Strawberry Plains; Rocky Face Ridge; Resaca; Cassville; Dallas; Pine Mountain; Lost Mountain; Culp’s Farm; Kenesaw ; Chattahoochie; Decatur ; Siege Of Atlanta; Utoy Creek; Lovejoy’s Station; Columbia; Spring Hill; Franklin; Nashville; Fort Anderson, N. C.; Town Creek; Wilmington; Kinston; Goldsboro.

General Burnside was assigned to the command of the Department of the Ohio in the spring of 1863, his district including Kentucky and East Tennessee. The Ninth Corps left Virginia at this time and was assigned to his command; but, having planned an active campaign in East Tennessee, and needing additional troops, he organized the Twenty-third Corps from the regiments then stationed in Kentucky.

This new corps was formed April 27, 1863, with Major-General George L. Hartsuff in command. Generals Julius White and Milo S. Hascall were assigned to division commands.

The proposed campaign in East Tennessee was postponed, as the Ninth Corps was ordered to Vicksburg, to reinforce Grant’s army; but in August, the Ninth Corps returned to Kentucky, and the advance of the Twenty-third commenced. The Second Division (White’s) made its rendezvous at New Market, from whence it marched on the 19th, arriving at Loudon, Tenn., on the 4th of September. General Longstreet’s Corps had been detached from Lee’s Army, and, in October, 1863, marched into East Tennessee to drive out Burnside’s Army of the Ohio, as the united forces of the Ninth and Twenty-third Corps were then designated. The fighting was continuous, minor engagements occurring almost daily, and on November l6th a spirited battle occurred at Campbell’s Station, in which White’s Division was actively engaged. Burnside moved next to Knoxville, which place was invested and finally assaulted by Longstreet, but without success. At Campbell’s Station, and at Knoxville, the corps was commanded by General Mahlon D. Manson.

In August, 1863, Mahan’s Brigade of Indiana troops was assigned to the Third Division. These regiments were recruited for six months’ service only, and returned to Indiana in February, 1864. They served in East Tennessee, and were present at Blue Springs and Walker’s Ford.

On the 4th of April, 1864, Major-General John M. Schofield was assigned to the corps, and he commanded it during the Atlanta campaign, which was the most eventful period of its existence. In the spring of 1864, Hovey’s Division of Indiana troops, newly recruited, joined the corps at Charleston, Tenn., and was designated as the First Division. The Second Division was commanded by General Henry M. Judah, and the Third Division by General Jacob D. Cox, with which organization it started on the Atlanta campaign. But on June 6, 1864, the First Division was broken up and divided between the other two divisions. While on the Atlanta campaign, General Judah was succeeded by General Hascall in the command of the Second Division. The greatest loss of the corps during that campaign was sustained May 14, 1862, at the battle of Resaca. It also encountered some hard fighting near Kenesaw and at Utoy Creek.

After the fall of Atlanta, and while Sherman’s Army was wending its way to the Sea, the Twenty-third Corps joined Thomas’ Army in the Tennessee campaign against Hood. The corps was still under the command of General Schofield, while the two divisions, Second and Third, were commanded, respectively, by Generals Ruger and Cox. These two divisions contained 30 regiments of infantry and 4 batteries of light artillery. Their returns for October 31, 1864,–just before starting on the Tennessee campaign–show 10,624 officers and men present for duty. The corps was actively engaged at the battle of Franklin, but at Nashville it was largely held in reserve. In the latter action, Ruger’s (2d) Division was commanded by Major-General Darius N. Couch.

In January, 1865, the corps moved from Nashville, via Washington, to North Carolina, Cox’s Division landing at Fort Fisher, February 9, 1865. Moving up the river, the corps fought at Fort Anderson, and at Wilmington, February 21st, capturing the latter place. In the meantime, another division was formed, and designated as the First Division, with General Ruger in command. This division was actively engaged in the victory at Kinston, N. C. (Wise’s Forks), which resulted in the occupation of Goldsboro. General Cox succeeded Schofield, the latter having been promoted to the command of the Army of the Ohio, which, since the arrival of the Twenty-third Corps in North Carolina, comprised two corps–the Tenth (Terry’s) and Twenty-third. On the 10th of April, 1865, the Twenty-third Corps numbered 14,293 present for duty, and was composed of three divisions –Ruger’s, Couch’s, and Carter’s. It remained in North Carolina while Sherman’s Army, with which it had made a junction at Goldsboro, marched northward to Washington. The corps was discontinued on August 1, 1865, many of the regiments having been mustered out before that.

Gen. David StanleyMajor-General Stanley (right), commanding the Fourth Federal corps, in his official report stated that:

“In view of the strong position we held, nothing appeared so improbable as that they would assault. I felt so confident in this belief that I did not leave General Schofield’s headquarters until the firing commenced.”

Major-General Cox, (bottom right) commanding the Twenty-third corps, and in active command of the Federal line of battle, undertakes to account for the attack made by General Hood thus:

Jacob Dolson CoxHis exasperation at what he regarded as a hair’s breadth escape on our part from the toils in which he thought he had encompassed us at Spring Hill had probably clouded his judgment. He blamed some of his subordinates for the hesitation which he seems himself to have been responsible for, and now, in an excitement which led him astray, he determined to risk everything upon a desperate assault.”

The same eminent author, referring to the assault made by Cleburne and Brown on the Federal center, says:

“They were seen coming in splendid array. The sight was one to send a thrill through the heart, and those who saw it have never forgotten its martial magnificence.”

Source: Confederate Military History Volume 8:
Tennessee Chapter X

Also read:

  • Wikipedia article on Jacob D. Cox

FROM NASHVILLE

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The Position of the Opposing Armies.

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NO FIGHTING SINCE WEDNESDAY

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Hood Demonstrating Toward Murfreesboro

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Further Details of the Battle of Franklin

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THE REBEL GENERAL CLEBURNE KILLED

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The Rebel Loss Fully Six Thousand — Our Loss One Thousand

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GEN. THOMAS MASTER OF THE SITUATION

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Nashville, Friday, Dec. 2

I have received full accounts of the late battle at Franklin, and its antecedents, which was one of the the most brilliant in its general results of the war. For three days sharp skirmishing was kept up during the retirement of our army from Duck River to Franklin, during which time a multiplicity of exploits and successes resulted to the Federal arms.

Gen. Cox conducted the rear guard, and on the 29th ultimately achieved a splendid victory over the rebels at Spring Hill, while General Wilson’s cavalry gained a series of important successes over Forrest’s advance, under Roddy, on the pike between Turner’s and Spring Hill.

During the afternoon of the 30th ultimately the rebel army was sorely pressed under Hood, who had Cheatam’s and Stewart’s corps, and a portion of Dick Taylor’s command, numbering in all over 22,009 men. Owing to Cox’s gallant check at Spring Hill, and portion of the Fourth and Twenty-third Corps were enabled to gain Franklin early in the day, where they threw up a line of breastworks, extending from one end to the other of the curve in the river, behind which our entire infantry command took position.

At precisely four o’clock (afternoon) the entire rebel force made a charge, and succeeded in making a temporary break in our centre, commanded by Wagner. With characteristic impetuosity the soldiers composing Cheatham’s Corps dashed into the breastworks, and cooperating with the attacking party on their left, attempted to envelop and destroy our right. In the nick of time the troops of Wagner were rallied, and throwing their whole force on the rebel column, drove back the storming party in great disorder, capturing several hundred prisoner. Four hours after the rebels charged on these lines, but were repulsed as often with great slaughter.

The rebels numbered at least two to our one, as nearly half of the Fourth and Twenty-third Corps were in reserve. The rebels loss in killed is three times ours, while their wounded is at least six times as large as ours. The wounded of our men are mostly in the head, arms and body.

The artillery fire of the enemy was great precision, but their ammunition consisted chiefly of shot and shell, while for two hours immense quantities of more murderous missles were hurled with fearful fury into the rebel lines. All the attempt of the rebels to gain a permanent advantage were frustrated, and at dark the Federal position was uncharged, while the rebels retired, under cover of the woods, south of the Columbia pike.

The rebel loss, as before stated, is fully 6,000, including over 1,000 prisoners, an unsual number of whom were officers. Our loss reached a total of about 1,000.

An artillery duel was kept up till nearly midnight, when our troops commenced crossing Harpeth River, bringing all our trains and paraphernalia over in safety before daylight.

The army then retired to within four miles of this city, at which point our frontline confronts the enemy. The falling back of the army is in accordance with the programme, and the battle at Franklin, although of the most brilliant kind, was an impromptu affair, and brought about owing to the necessity of checking the rebel advance to secure a safe crossing of the river by our troops.

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LATER

Nashville, Friday, Dec. 2

Additional reports received increase the magnitude of the late victory at Franklin. Thirty stands of colors were captured by our forces. The Forty-ninth Indiana captured five, the Eighty-eighth Illinois three, Reilly’s old brigade eight, and the Twenty-third Corps captured four.

Gen. Stanley, commanding the Fourth Corps, had a very narrow escape, having had a horse killed under him, and was shot in the right shoulder, the ball travelling the back and going out of the left shoulder. He is in the city, and though suffering considerably, is still attending to duty.

It is confirmed that Gen. Cleburne, of Tennessee, is killed.

Gen. Kimball, commanding the Second Division of General Stanley’s Corps, in the heat of the battle passed a rebel Major-General, who told him he was mortally wounded. His men succeeded in carrying off his body.

It is believed that Hood’s main army is threatening Murfreesboro. Forrest’s rebel cavalry is demonstrating on our front and right flank.

Commander Fitch is here with a fleet of boats and Iron-clads. Sufficient forces have arrived to insure not only the safety of Nashville, but another Union victory, is case of a battle, under any circumstances.

The military men all unite in the opinion that Gen. Stanley and Schofield conducted the retirement from Pulaski in the face of the enemy with admirable skill, and crowning all with a magnificent Union victory at Franklin.

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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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