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Brig.-Gen. John Adams, of Tennessee, was killed* after leading his command up to the enemy’s main line of works. Gen. Jacob D. Cox says of him:

“In one of the lulls between these attacks, when the smoke was so thick that one could see a very little way in front, the officers of the line discovered a mounted officer in front forming for another attack or rallying them after a repulse. Shots were fired and horse and rider both fell. The horse struggled to his feet and dashed for the breastworks, leaped upon it and fell dead astride it. The wounded officer was Gen. John Adams. He was brought in and soon died.”

Source: Confederate Military History

*Killed at Battle of Franklin; commanded brigade in Loring’s division, Stewart’s corps, Army of Tennessee, composed of the 6th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 23d and 43d Mississippi regiments.

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

Major-General Bate, referring to an interview with General Hood between the hours of 10 and 12 of the night of the 29th of November, at which General Bate mentioned a conflict in the orders of the general commanding and the corps commander touching the movement of his division, relates that General Hood said:

“It makes no difference now, or it is all right, anyhow, for General Forrest, as you see, has just left and informed me that he holds the turnpike with a portion of his forces north of Spring Hill, and will stop the enemy if he tries to pass toward Franklin, and so in the morning we will have a surrender without a fight.”

He further said in a congratulatory manner, “We can sleep quietly to-night.”

Source: Confederate Military History Volume 8:
Tennessee Chapter X

Major-General Cheatham gave the following account of the affair at Spring Hill:

In pursuance of orders from army headquarters, my command crossed Duck river on the morning of the 29th of November, 1864, the division of Major-General Cleburne in advance, followed by that of Major-General Bate, the division of Major-General Brown in the rear. The march was made as rapidly as the condition of the road would allow and without occurrence of note, until about 3 o’clock p.m., when I arrived at Rutherford’s creek, two and one-half miles from Spring Hill. At this point General Hood gave me verbal orders as follows: That I should get Cleburne across the creek and send him forward toward Spring Hill, with instructions to communicate with General Forrest, who was near the village, ascertain from him the position of the enemy, and attack immediately; that I should remain at the creek, assist General Bate in crossing his division, and then go forward and put Bate’s command in to support Cleburne, and that he would push Brown forward to join me.

As soon as the division of General Bate had crossed the creek I rode forward, and at a point on the road, about one and a half mile from Spring Hill, I saw the left of Cleburne’s command just disappearing over the hill to the left of the road. Halting there, I waited a few minutes for the arrival of Bate, and formed his command with his right upon the position of Cleburne’s left, and ordered him forward to the support of Cleburne. Shortly after Bate’s division had disappeared over the same range of hills, I heard firing toward Cleburne’s right and just then General Brown’s division had come up. I thereupon ordered Brown to proceed to the right, turn the range of hills over which Cleburne and Bate had crossed, and form line of battle and attack to the right of Cleburne. The division of General Brown was in motion to execute this order when I received a message from Cleburne that his right brigade had been struck in flank by the enemy and had suffered severely, and that he had been compelled to fall back and reform his division with a change of front.

It so happened that the direction of Cleburne’s advance was such as had exposed his right flank to the enemy’s line.


When his command was formed on the road by which he had marched from Rutherford’s creek, neither the village of Spring Hill nor the turnpike could be seen. Instead of advancing directly upon Spring Hill, his forward movement was a little south of west and almost parallel with the turnpike toward Columbia, instead of northwest upon the enemy’s lines, south and east of the village. A reference to the map will show Cleburne’s line of advance. General Cleburne was killed in the assault upon Franklin the next day, and I had no opportunity to learn from him how it was that the error of direction occurred.

Meanwhile General Bate, whom I had placed in position on the left of Cleburne’s line of march, continued to move forward in the same direction until he had reached the farm of N. F. Cheairs, one and a half mile south of Spring Hill.

After Brown had reached the position indicated to him and had formed a line of battle, he sent to inform me that it would be certain disaster for him to attack, as the enemy’s line extended beyond his right several hundred yards. I sent word to him to throw back his right brigade and make the attack. I had already sent couriers after General Bate to bring him back and direct him to join Cleburne’s left. Going to the right of my line I found Generals Brown and Cleburne, and the latter reported that he had reformed his division. I then gave orders to Brown and Cleburne that as soon as they could connect their lines they should attack the enemy, who were then in sight; informing them at the same time that General Hood had just told me that Stewart’s column was close at hand, and that General Stewart had been ordered to go to my right and place his command across the pike. I furthermore said to them that I would go myself and see that General Bate was placed in position to connect with them, and immediately rode to the left of my line for that purpose.

During all this time I had met and talked with General Hood repeatedly, our field headquarters being not over 100 yards apart. After Cleburne’s repulse I had been along my line and had seen that Brown’s right was outflanked several hundred yards. I had urged General Hood to hurry up Stewart and place him on my right, and had received from him the assurance that this would be done; and this assurance, as before stated, I had communicated to Generals Cleburne and Brown.

When I returned from my left, where I had been to get Bate in position, and was on the way to the right of my line, it was dark; but I intended to move forward with Cleburne and Brown and make the attack, knowing that Bate would be in position to support them. Stewart’s column had already passed by on the way toward the turnpike, and I presumed he would be in position on my right.

On reaching the road where General Hood’s field quarters had been established, I found a courier with a message from General Hood requesting me to come to him at Captain Thompson’s house, about one and a fourth miles back on the road to Rutherford’s creek. I found General Stewart and General Hood. The commanding general there informed me that he had concluded to wait till morning, and directed me to hold my command in readiness to attack at daylight.

I was never more astonished than when General Hood informed me that he had concluded to postpone the attack till daylight. The road was still open–orders to remain quiet until morning–and nothing to prevent the enemy from marching to Franklin.

Source: Confederate Military History Volume 8:
Tennessee Chapter X

On the 21st of November General Hood began his march to Nashville; on the 29th crossed Duck river three miles above Columbia, and then, with Cheatham’s and Stewart’s corps and a division of Lee’s corps, marched to Spring Hill.

Cheatham was in front, and in his official report, dated December 11, 1864, General Hood stated that

Benjamin F. Cheatham“Major-General Cheatham was ordered at once to attack the enemy vigorously and get possession of this pike [the road to Franklin], and although these orders were frequently and earnestly repeated, he made but a feeble and partial attack, failing to reach the point indicated.”

Again, in his history of the campaign (“Advance and Retreat,” pp. 285,286) it is related:

General A.P. Stewart, 1821-1908, was an Army officer, college professor, and Chancellor of the University of Mississippi“General Stewart was then ordered to proceed to the right of Cheatham and place his corps across the pike north of Spring Hill. By this hour, however, twilight was upon us, when General Cheatham rode up in person. I at once directed Stewart to halt, and turning to Cheatham I exclaimed with deep emotion, as I felt the golden opportunity fast slipping from me, ‘General, why in the name of God have you not attacked the enemy and taken possession of the pike?'”

Lieutenant-General Stewart, referring to this statement in a published letter, says that “no such exclamation by Hood to Cheatham could have been made in my presence.”

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.

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