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The 15th Mississippi was part of Gen Adams’ Brigade. This map shows the advance of Adams’ men on November 30, 1864 against the far left flank of the Union men defended by Casement and Stiles’ Brigades.

Defense of the Eastern Union flank at Franklin

The assault of the Confederate men under Gen. Loring (Scott, Featherston and Adams) was extremely brutal and punishing for the Confederates. Besides the strategic positions maintained by Casement and Stiles against the railroad track, the 1st & 6th Ohio Battery guns were placed on a small hill behind Reilly’s Brigades and had a field-day pummeling the Loring men with grape and cannister. Many boys from Mississippi and Alabama lost their lives that evening and are now buried at McGavock Cemetery.

The following boys from the 15th Mississippi (Adams’ Brigade) are identified as buried in McGavock Confederate Cemetery according to Jacobson.

Section 22

#1 Col. Michael Farrell

The final man bearing the flag of the 15th Mississippi was shot as he reached the top of the Yankee parapet and then pulled inside. Both he and the flag were captured. Lt. Thaddeus O. Donoghue of the 14th Mississippi was killed near the guns of the 6th Ohio Battery. Col. Michael Farrell of the 15th Mississippi was horribly wounded in both legs and lost his left to amputation. Farrell, a popular officer, did not have a single living relative nor did he have any money or own any property before enlisting. Those who knew him admired him and said he fought for ‘principle and constitutional liberty.’ Col. Farrell’s injuries eventually led to his death on Christmas Day.
For Cause and for Country, Jacobson, p. 362.

Section 28

#105 Charles R. Hemphill Company I | View marker

#107 Sgt. Elias P. Keeton Company K | View marker

#108 Elisha N. McGuire Company K | View marker

#109 Edward K. Harper Company G | View marker

#111 Lt. John L. Greenhaw Company G | View marker

#112 Lt. Thomas W. Allen Company E | View marker

#113 Captain James T. Smith Company E | View marker

Section 39

#270 Theodore A. Shillinger Company F | View marker

Section 41

#291 Cpl. Joseph H. Reese Company F | View marker

#300 William M. Lott Company E | View marker
(see Jacobson, For Cause and Country, p. 361)

Section 46

#370 Sgt. James P. Campbell Company H | View marker

Section 47

#377 John C. Williams Company C | View marker

#378 Benjamin C. Gregory Company I | View marker

The Mississippi section at McGavock Confederate Cemetery

Miscellaneous info on the 15th Mississippi

“Crossing the river November 20, they marched with Stewart’s Corps to Columbia and on November 29, joined in the flank movement to Spring Hill. Following closely upon the Federal retreat from Columbia to Spring Hill, they were heroic participants in the bloody assault of the evening of November 30. general Adams was killed while leading his men against the second line of works, his horse falling across the parapet. Col. Robert Lowry, who succeeded to brigade command, reported that the flag of the fifteenth regiment was lost, four men having been shot down in bearing it forward to the works. Colonel Farrell, a brilliant officer, was mortally wounded, and Lieut.-Col. Binford took command of the regiment. Lieutenants Young and Allen were killed; Lieuts. Shuler, Irish, Campell, Hale, Tribble, wounded. The casualties of the brigade were 44 killed, 271 wounded, 23 missing. The effective strength of the brigade after the advance to Nashville was a little over 1,000, including six regiments. The position of Stewart’s Corps in front of Nashville was distinguished for steadiness in forming a new line to check the enemy and on the next day they repelled all assaults until the line broke over their left. In the last days of December they recrossed the Tennessee River and early in January the corps went into camp near Tupelo.”

Recommended Read

Ben Wynne (Ph.D., 2000)
A Hard Trip: A History of the 15th Mississippi Infantry, CSA
(Mercer University Press, 2002)

The history of the 15th Mississippi Infantry in the social context of the western theater of the Civil War. Not strictly a military history, Ben Wynne examines in this book the social components of Confederate service in the context of the experiences of a single regiment. Wynne begins with a general overview of the political climate of the 1850s, localized to the region that produced the 15th Mississippi, then covers the regiment’s movements through the western theater, and ends with a localized treatment of the post-war social climate and the rise of Lost Cause mythology. The emphasis in this insightful and new approach to the Civil War focuses on the experiences of the men who served in the regiment, including their intrinsic connection to their communities, reasons that they enlisted, reactions to their first combat, views on conscription, accounts of major battles in the western theater, the ebb and flow of morale, desertion, and the post-war status of the men as heroes in a culture struggling to rationalize defeat.

Using first person accounts from letters, diaries, memoirs, and other primary materials, the book sets the 15th Mississippi in a personal context. The narrative is chronologically arranged by the events of the western theater of the Civil War. Emphasizing the real war and not a romanticized version, the story of this unique regiment follows a group of men who entered the war with visions of glory and honor but within one year came to recognize the true nature of the conflict.

Ben Wynne is an Assistant Professor of History at Gainesville State College.

Web links

Company A – Long Creek Rifles – site

Company K – Choctaw Grays – site

The 29th AL faced the Union left flank of Casement’s Brigade on the Federal line at Franklin.  The 29th was part of Cantley’s Brigade, Walthall’s Division, on the eastern Union flank.

Here is Crew’s kepi he wore in the war, including at Franklin.

Picture credit: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy (p. 163)

At least six of Crew’s comrades are known to be buried at McGavock Cemetery.  One can only wonder how may young men from Alabama were buried after the Battle of Franklin with kepis on their head just like this one.

The 6th Mississippi Regimental flag, Company D, also known as Lowry’s Rifles. The 6th was in Adams’s Brigade, Loring’s Division. The 6th saw action to the right of Cleburne’s Division, assaulting the Federal line facing fire from Casement’s and Reilly’s Brigades.

There are three known-identified 6th MS boys buried at McGavock. It’s very likely there are numerous more unknown buried at McGavock as their known dead is a very low amount for Mississippi regiments, and considering the 6th MS saw action to the Union left of the Cotton Gin.

Picture Credit” Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy (p. 259).

“The casualties of the corps,” reported Lieut.-Gen. Stewart, “were something over 2,000 in killed, wounded and missing. Among them were many of our best officers and bravest men. Brig.-Gen. John Adams was killed, his horse being found lying across the inner line of the enemy’s works.” The casualties of Adams’ Brigade were the heaviest of the division — 10 officers and 34 men killed; 39 officers and 232 men wounded, 23 missing. Col. Robert Lowry took command of the brigade, which, on December 9, reported an aggregate present 1,769, effective 1,047, prisoners of war 50. 

Dunbar Rowland’s “Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898

The 29th AL faced the Union left flank of Casement’s Brigade on the Federal line at Franklin. The 29th was part of Cantley’s Brigade, Walthall’s Division, on the eastern Union flank.

Here is Crew’s kepi he wore in the war, including at Franklin.

Picture credit: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy (p. 163)

At least six of Crew’s comrades are known to be buried at McGavock Cemetery. One can only wonder how may young men from Alabama were buried after the Battle of Franklin with kepis on their head just like this one.

More Confederate soldiers from Mississippi lie at McGavock than any other State represented. These boys assume sections 22-50. The number of Mississippi boys reflect the brutal cost paid by Featherston’s and Scott’s brigades as they absorbed Union artillery shelling on the far left Union flank.

The 31st MS regiment has the highest known number of men buried at McGavock, twenty-one. The 31st MS was part of Featherston’s Brigade, BG Winfield S. Featherston, fighting also with the 3rd, 22nd, 31st, 33rd, 40th Miss., 1st Miss., Battalion.

Click here to see a large map of the Battle of Franklin, with an enlarged map of the Eastern flank.

Regarding the action the Mississippi boys saw . . .

Stiles’ and Casement’s men found a thick hedge of osage about fifteen yards south of their position, an almost perfect natural abatis. They went to work cutting some of it down and using the refuse to extend its reach farther west until most of their front was covered by the prickly limbs. Along the line the boys topped the earthen walls with head logs for added protection. . . . Only a fool would attack such a position of strength.

- Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: page 32.

Near the Harpeth River, Major General William Loring’s troops could begin to see the looming Federal line protecting Reilly’s division. Buford’s dismounted troopers and Brigadier General Winfield Featherston’s Mississippians advanced between the river and the Lewisburg Pike, their line bisected by the Central Alabama Railroad. To their left, the Alabamians of Brigadier General Thomas Scott’s brigade had fallen behind as they guided on the pike, the enemy artillery in Fort Granger contesting their advance. Suddenly, at a range of two hundred yards, the Federal artillery upporting Reilly’s line exploded, followed quickly by riflery from Israel Stiles‘ and James Casement’s brigades, six regiments of battle-tested Indianans. In a blinding flash, the Confederate battle line shivered as Federal iron tore trough the rebel front. Of the carnage, one Confederate survivor remembered, “Our troops were killed by whole platoons; our front line of battle seemed to have been cut down by the first discharge, for in many places they were lying in their faces in almost as good order as if they had lain down on purpose.”

Featherston’s boys recoiled from the impact then pressed forwar, but fifty feet from the Yankee line they ran into the impenetrable hedge of osage. Grown to a stinging thickness by the locals to control cattle, the hedge line now provided a perfect barrier against the rebel assault, too high to surmount and too dense to winnow. The Mississippians came to a halt, searching frantically for a way through the natural abatis. As they did, they became little more than sitting ducks for the Indianans across the way. Only near the opening at the pike were the Yankees slightly tested. A pitifully small set of survivors planted two Mississippi flags on the earthworks, but they were almost immediately killed or captured. One survivor described it as “a tremendous deluge of shot and shell . . . seconded by a murderous sheet of fire and lead from the infantry behind the works, and also another battery of six guns directly in our front.” It was, he said, a “scene of carnage and destruction fearful to behold.”

Featherston’s right-most regiments crawled along the ground trying to find another way through the obstructions, but when they curled into the railroad cut marking Stiles’ left, the 120th Indiana palstered their van with musketry. Farther north, Battery M, 4th U.S. Artillery, began to spray the cut with canister, while Cockerill’s gunners in Fort Granger added their own plunging fire. Even a battery east across the Harpeth weighed in. Caught in the maelstrom were Buford’s troopers, belly down on the banks of the Harpeth trying to escape the murderous sweep.

- Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: pages 39-40.

Marker honoring the Mississippi dead at Franklin, McGavock Cemetery

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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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