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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, In the Field, December 18, 1864-11 p. m. Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Washington:

Yours of 12.20 p. m. to-day received. I have already given orders to have Decatur occupied, and also to throw a strong column on the south side of the Tennessee toward Tuscumbia, for the purpose of capturing Hood’s depot there, if possible, and gaining possession of his pontoon bridge. I have also requested Admiral Lee to go up the Tennessee River with a fleet of gun-boats, which he has promised to do, and his vessels are no doubt already on the way. General Wilson informed me to-day that prisoners taken yesterday by him told him that Forrest, Jackson, and another division left Murfreesborough on Thursday for Columbia direct, and that Buford with another division left Murfreesborough the same day and marched continuously until he reached Spring Hill, where he assumed the duties of rear guard to the rebel army. I hope you will be able to fire a salute to-morrow in honor of the capture of Savannah.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-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 249

NASHVILLE, TENN., December 17, 1864-10 p. m.

Major T. T. ECKERT:

Just in from the front. Enemy made only sufficient resistance to-day to enable him to get his transportation away. General Thomas crowded him as much as possible, and has captured 1,000 prisoners, driving enemy across Harpeth River, but not securing bridges by which he crossed. Cavalry forded and engaged on south bank, when night overtook us. Have captured no guns or wagons so far as I know. Hood is in rapid retreat, and the state of ground is such as to confine pursuit to pike roads, cross-roads and fields impassable for artillery or transportation. Stragglers and rear guard will be picket up daily; not much else.

J. C. VAN DUZER.

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

You are currently in Volume XLV | Page 232

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Near Franklin, Tenn., December 17, 1864. (Via Pittsburg 5 p. m. 18th.) Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

Report just received from Major-General Wilson states that at 6 p. m. to-day he attacked and dispersed Stevenson’s division of rebel infantry and a brigade of cavalry, capturing three guns. The Fourth U. S. Cavalry and Hatch’s division of cavalry, handsomely supported by Knipe’s division of cavalry, did the work, making several beautiful charges, breaking the rebel infantry in all directions. Had it only been light the rebel rear guard would have been entirely destroyed; as it is, it has been severely punished. The whole army will continue vigorous pursuit in the morning. This attack was made six miles beyond Franklin.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-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 229

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Near Franklin, Tenn., December 17, 1864-8 p. m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:

We have pressed the enemy to-day beyond Franklin, capturing his hospitals, containing over 1,500 wounded, and about 150 of our wounded. In addition to the above, General Knipe, commanding a division of cavalry, drove the enemy’s rear guard through Franklin to-day, capturing about 250 prisoners and 5 battle-flags, with very little loss on our side. Citizens of Franklin represent Hood’s army as completely demoralized. In addition to the captures of yesterday, reported in my dispatch of last night, I have the honor to report the capture of General Rucker and about 250 prisoners of the enemy’s cavalry, in a fight that occurred about 8 o’clock last night between General Rucker and General Hatch, of our cavalry. The enemy has been pressed to-day both in front and on both flanks. Brigadier-General Johnson succeeded in striking him on the flank just beyond Franklin, capturing quite a number of prisoners, number not yet reported. My cavalry is pressing him closely to-night, and I am very much in hopes of getting many more prisoners to-morrow. Luckily, but little damage has been done the railroad, and I expect to have trains close up to the army to-morrow night. I have just heard from General Stoneman, at Kingsport, under date of the 13th instant. He left Knoxville on the 10th, overtook Duke’s (formerly Morgan’s) command on the 12th, and during the night drove him across the North Fork of Holston River. Next morning crossed the river and attacked, captured and killed nearly the whole command, taking the entire wagon train. Colonel R. C. Morgan, a brother of John Morgan, is, with many other officers, a prisoner. Duke’s command is considered completely destroyed. The fighting was done by Gillem’s command and the Thirtieth Kentucky, of General Burbridge’s command. Stoneman in motion for Bristol, where he hopes to intercept Vaughn. A part of the captured train was that lost by Gillem on retreat from Bull’s Gap. I now consider the Cumberland perfectly safe from Nashville down, and have directed the chief quartermaster to commence shipping stores up it immediately. As there is also a fair prospect for another rise in the Tennessee River, I have requested Admiral Lee to send some iron-clads and gun-boats up that river, to destroy Hood’s pontoon bridge, if possible, and cut off his retreat.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General, Commanding.

(Same to Major-General Halleck.)

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

You are currently in Volume XLV | Page 229

George H. Thomas
O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME XLV/1 [S# 93] NOVEMBER 14, 1864-JANUARY 23, 1865.–Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee.
No. 1.–Report of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the Cumberland.

Read it online – http://www.aotc.net/nashv-rep.htm

On the evening of the 16th Dec…

The Corps bivouacked for the night: Knipe, Croxton, and Hatch’s on the Granny White pike, and Johnson, on the Hillsboro pike, near the Harpeth River. Before daylight (17th Dec) they were in motion again; Knipe’s in the advance, marched through the country to the Franklin pike; Croxton crossed and marched over on the other side, through the fields, to its left; Hatch and Croxton crossed soon after at the fords above the town. At Franklin the enemy’s hospitals, with two thousand wounded, fell into our hands; two hundred of our own wounded, left there on the retreat to Nashville, were also recovered, together with 1,700 rations. The prusuit was immediately continued, Knipe and Hatch moving in parallel columns were directed to push rapidly forward, and endeavor to press round the flanks of the enemy’s rear-guard, composed almost entirely of infantry, while a strong force of skirmishers across the pike should press it continually, and compel it to form line as frequently as possible. By these means I hoped to break up their last organized force, and disperse their disorganized and flying mass they were covering. My orders were obeyed with great alacrity, but the enemy finding his flank so much endangered, retired as rapidly, but skirmishing heavily with Hatch and Knipe. Late in the evening, apparently exhausted with rapid marching, the rebels took a strong position in the open fields, about a mile north of the West Harpeth. It was then almost dark from fog and approaching night. The men of General Hatch’s advance, by their rapid movements, had become so intermingled with the sullen and disheartened enemy, he began to doubt that the forces in his front were really those of the rebel rear guard. The momentary hesitation caused by this uncertainty gave the rebels an opportunity to put their batteries in position and reform their line. I immediately gave orders for Hatch and Knipe to collect their men and charge both flanks of the enemy, and directed my escort, the fourth United States Cavalry, about two hundred strong, Lieutenant Hedges commanding, to charge their centre on the pike. These orders had scarcely been given, before the enemy opened a rapid fire from their battery, not over three hundred yards from us. Hatch’s battery promptly replied; Lt. Hedges, thinking that I simply wished him to ascertain the real character of the force in our front, hastily moved his regiment about, and to the front side of the road, out of the range of the rebel guns, but, at my order, as promptly resumed his original formation in, columns of fours, in the road, and dashing forward at the gallop, with sabres drawn, broke through the enemy’s battery. Hatch’s division and Hammond’s brigade, dismounted, dashed forward at the same time. The enemy, broken in the centre and pressed back on both flanks, fled rapidly from the field, withdrawing his guns at a gallop. Lieutenant Hedges, outstripping his men, was captured three different times, but throwing away his hat and raising the cry, “the Yankees are coming; run for your lives,” succeeded in getting away. The rout was complete, although then it was very dark, everybody pressed rapidly forward; the fourth cavalry and General Hatch, with a handful of men, in advance on the pike, and the fifth division on the right and left. General Hammond, with the tenth Indiana cavalr, Lieutenant Colonel Gresham commanding, fording the West Harpeth, a few hundred yards to the right, again struck the rebels on the flank. Pressed in all directions, the artillerymen left their guns and saved themselves as best they could; the infantry scattered in all directions. Darkness alone enabled the entire command to escape. The rebel force was found to be Stevenson’s division of Lee’s corps, under command of General Forrest, who had just returned from Murfreesboro.

Source: report of Major General Thomas (web site)
Cited on page 419: Reports of Committees: 30th Congress, 1st Session – 48th Congress, 2nd

Note: It was for this action Hedges was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Additionally, Wilson awarded Hedges to be Captain and brevet Major for this action.
” I have the honor to recommend and request brevet appointments for the following-named officers:  First Lieut. Joseph Hedges, Fourth U.S. Cavalry, to be captain and brevet major for conspicuous gallantry during the pursuit of Hood after the battle of Nashville, charging the enemy’s rear guard on the West Harpeth River, leading his regiment, capturing three pieces of artillery” (May 19, 1865)

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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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