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HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Near Franklin, December 17, 1864-4 p. m. General JOHNSON,
Commanding Sixth Division:

GENERAL: The general commanding desires you to move on the road you are now on until dark; encamp, and communicate with him by a staff officer. Knipe is moving on the Columbia pike, and Hatch parallel to it, on the left.

Respectfully, &c.,

A. J. ALEXANDER,

Lieutenant-Colonel and Acting Chief of Staff.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume XLV | Page 242

HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS, Seven Miles from Franklin, December 17, 1864. Brigadier-General CROXTON,
Commanding Brigade:

GENERAL: Generals Hatch and Knipe are in Franklin. Push along as fast as possible by the road you fell back on when Hood advanced on Nashville. Cross the Harpeth River and endeavor to strike the enemy’s flank on the Lewisburg pike. Watch well your left. If possible, send a small force through to communicate with the garrison at Murfreesborough, to inform them what has taken place. Keep us well informed of your progress. Orders will be sent you when you reach the Lewisburg pike, or are near it.

By command of Brevet Major-General Wilson:

E. B. BEAUMONT,

Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume XLV | Page 241

CIRCULAR.] HDQRS. CAV. CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS.,

Granny White Pike, Eight Miles from Nashville,

December 17, 1864-3.30 a. m.

The Cavalry Corps will move at the earliest possible moment after the receipt of this order, by the following lines:

1. Croxton’s brigade will march, by the most direct road, to the Franklin pike, pressing the enemy closely by that road and those immediately to the east of it, leaving the pike itself for Knipe’s division.

2. Knipe’s division will move, by the nearest road, to the Franklin pike, and press the enemy on that road and any that may be found on its immediate right.

3. Hatch’s division will follow the enemy, on this road, to Brentwood, and press the enemy closely on the right of the Franklin pike. It may not be necessary to strike Brentwood at all, if roads can be found between the Hillsborough and Franklin pikes. General Hatch will use his discretion.

4. General Johnson will march, in pursuance of instructions last night, by the Hillsborough pike.

5. Cavalry Corps headquarters will be with the Fifth Division. Frequent communications must be sent in by the various columns.

J. H. WILSON,

Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume XLV | Pages 239-240

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Three Miles North of Thompson’s Station, on West Harpeth, December 17, 1864-6 p. m.

Brigadier General W. D. WHIPPLE,

Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: We have “bust up” Stevenson’s division of infantry, a brigade of cavalry, and taken three guns. The Fourth Cavalry and Hatch’s division, supported by Knipe, made several beautiful charges, breaking the rebel infantry in all directions. There has been a great deal of night firing, volleys and cannonading from our guns-the rebels have none. It is very dark, and our men are considerably scattered, but I’ll collect them on this bank of the stream-West Harpeth. Hatch is a brick!

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. H. WILSON,

Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume XLV | Page 238

Action

The following detail is taken from:

http://www.1sttennesseecavalry.com/history2.asp

December 14th, 1864
Special Field Order No. 342
Laid out the plan of attack on Hood’s troops General Smith’s Sixteen Corps and Wilson’s cavalry took the right General Wilson formed his cavalry in the following order: Hatch’s Fifth Division on the right of the Sixteenth Corps; Croxton’s brigade of McCook’s First Division to the right of Hatch. General Johnson’s Sixth Division was on Croxton’s right.

December 15th, 1864
The effective force of General Wilson’s corps was twelve thousand, five hundred men and eighteen guns. It was a fine body of men, but very deficient in horses, many being wholly unfit for active service. Around 9am, Thomas started his attack on Hood outside Nashville. Steedman, on the left moved first, then General Smith, then Wilsons cavalry.

Croxton’s brigade had been standing in line of battle during the morning just outside of the entrenchments near the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad. About 10am Croxton threw out a strong line of skirmishers and moved his brigade out between the Charlotte turnpike and the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad.

Croxton was ordered to move his brigade from the Charlotte turnpike across the country to the Hillsboro turnpike, and in doing so, skirmished most all the way. Shortly after crossing the Harding turnpike, Croxton encountered a portion of Chalmers’s division. The First Tennessee was in the advance and was marching left in front when they were fired upon by the enemy by a stone wall. Lt. Colonel Dyer was ordered to dismount his regiment and dislodge the enemy and in a few minutes the regiment was over the fence in line ready to move. At the command “forward,” the men raised the yell and moved forward under a brisk fire, and in a few minutes reached the stone wall, and springing over succeeded in capturing a portion of the Fifth Mississippi Cavalry.

Darkness set in and Croxton’s brigade was ordered to bivouac near the Hillsboro turnpike which they were glad to do as they had been in the saddle since morning.

Wilson’s cavalry had fought during the day infantry and cavalry, had cleared their front, covered the extreme right of Thomas’s infantry, and not only enveloped Hood’s flank, but had taken it in reverse, had completely turned his left flank and swept everything before them, and at night bivouacked near his line of retreat.

December 16th, 1864
Wilson moved his troops forward dismounted and by noon was east of the Granny White turnpike and had completely turned Hood’s left flank, and cut off his line of retreat by this route. Stewart made several attempts during the forenoon to drive back Wilson’s dismounted cavalry and retake the ground lost, but was unsuccessful and was repulsed without difficulty.
Thomas’s charging troops pushed Hood out of his works and the enemy fled toward the Franklin turnpike in great confusion. Wilson’s cavalry was delayed in the pursuit, caused by the troops being so far from the led horses, as the men leading them made slow progress over the hills and dense forests. Croxton’s brigade, which had been in reserve, was not moved to the right of Hammond’s brigade of Knipe’s division, and in making this move captured several prisoners.
As soon as Wilson’s men gained their horses the pursuit was begun, with the commands of Hatch, Knipe and Croxton on the Granny White turnpike and Johnson on the Hillsboro turnpike. Everything indicated a rout, and after moving a short distance the leading division, Hatch’s, encountered Chalmers’ division about dark.
This was called the great cavalry battle of the west, and it is exceedingly doubtful if there was a single battle of the war where so much gallant and meritorious service was rendered by that arm of the service.

December 17th, 1864
The cavalry continued the pursuit. At Brentwood, Croxton’s brigade was ordered t take the Wilson turnpike where the enemy was again routed and fell back toward Franklin. Croxton’s brigade skirmished with Hood’s rear guard most of the way to Franklin. Hood attempted to make another stand at Franklin, but again his flanks were turned and he fell back toward Columbia. Croxton and Hatch moved to the left of Franklin, swimming Harpeth River at McGavock’s Ford and encamped for the night near Douglass Church on the Lewisburg turnpike.

December 18th, 1864
Wilson continued the pursuit south from Franklin with great energy, moving on all the roads, and continued to harass the flanks and rear of Hood’s army.

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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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