Quotes related to the battle of Franklin

Important quotes related to the Battle of Franklin:

When we got to the turnpike near Spring Hill, lo! and behold; wonder of wonders! the whole Yankee army had passed during the night. The bird had flown.

– Confederate Private Sam Watkins, 1st Tennessee Infantry

[Hood was] wrathy as a rattlesnake this morning, striking at everything.

– Confederate General John Brown to Maj. Vaulx of Cheatham’s staff, on the disposition of John Bell Hood on the morning of November 30th, upon learning that the Federals had escaped from Spring Hill in the early morning hours and had headed toward Franklin.

I have never seen more intense rage and profound disgust than was expressed by the weary, foot-sore, battle-torn Confederate soldiers when they discovered that their officers had allowed their prey to escape.

– Mississippian Rhett Thomas

The road was strewn everywhere with the wreck of thrown away stuff that they were unable to carry in their flight.

– Confederate Lt. Spencer B. Talley, 28th TN Infantry, describing what he saw along the Columbia Pike as the rebel army followed after the Union army into Franklin

To which Lt. William H. Berryhill, 43rd Miss., (CSA) added, the road was strewn with tents, knapsacks, dirty clothing, books, paper and a great many wagons were on fire.

Burnt wagons, dead pack animals, and tossed knapsacks all seemed to indicate a demoralized retreat, heartening the Southerners with thoughts of possible enemy capitulation and a quick victory.

Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: page 35.

If you prevent Hood from turning your position at Franklin, it should be held; but I do not wish you to risk too much.

George H. Thomas (c0mmander), to John M. Schofield, regarding how to proceed if an attack was to ensue at Franklin. Contrast this with Hood’s attack at-any-cost approach at Franklin.

I do no think the Federals will stand strong pressure from the front; the show of force they are making is a feint in order to hold me back from a more vigorous pursuit.

– General John Bell Hood to Nathan Bedford Forrest

General Hood, if you give me one strong division of infantry with my cavalry, I will agree to flank the Federals from their works within two hours’ time.

Nathan Bedford Forrest to his commander Hood. Hood engaged two Corps at Franklin; Stewart’s and Cheathams. He did not even wait for Lee’s Corps or for his artillery to effectively engage in the enusing battle. Had he waited for Lee, he would have had three more divisions and could have supported Forrest in his request.

We will make the fight.

– General John Bell Hood to a subordinate officer after surveying the battlefield from Winstead Hill, just shortly before the battle began.

I hereupon decided, before the enemy would be able to reach his stronghold at Nashville, to make that same afternoon another and final effort to overtake and rout him, and drive him in the Big Harpeth river at Franklin, since I could no longer hope to get between him and Nashville, by reason of the short distance from Franklin to that city, and the advantage which the Federals enjoyed in the possession of the direct road.

– Confederate commander of the Army of Tennessee, General John Bell Hood, quoted from Hood’s memoirs, written long after the battle.

I could easily see all the movements of the Federals and readily trace their line. I saw that they were well fortified and in a strong position. I felt that we would take a desperate chance if we attempted to dislodge them.

– Corps Commander, Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham, upon surveying the battlefield from Winstead Hill, two miles south of the Fedederal’s position in downtown Franklin.

If an assault was to be made by Hood, General Cleburne said it would be a terrible and useless waste of life.

– General Patrick R. Cleburne, Cheatham’s division, who would soon lose is own life during the assault.

General, I will take the works or fall in the effort.

Patrick Cleburne to General John Bell Hood. leburne would fall, mortally wounded in attempting to take the works.

It was the grandest sight I ever saw when our army marched over the hill and reached the open field base. Each division unfolded itself into a single line of battle with as much steadiness as if forming for dress parade. . . The men wer etired, hungry, footsore, ragged, and many of them barefooted, but their spirit was admirable.

James D. Porter, who served on Benjamin F. Cheatham’s staff.

The rebels had filled the plain to the south, sounding to all like “a tornado heralded by clouds of darkness and muttering thunders.”

I.G. Bennett and William M. Haigh, History of the Thirty-sixth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, 1876, page 644; quoted in Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: page 35.

General Cleburne seemed to be more despondent than I ever saw him. Iwas the last one to receive any instructions from him, and as I saluted and bade him good-bye I remarked, ‘Well General, there will not be many of us that will get back to Arkansas,’ to which he replied, “Well, Govan, if we are to die, let us die like men.”

– Brigadier Daniel C. Govan to Cleburne, and Cleburne’s reply upon commenting just moments before the assault was ordered by Hood.

[Pick back up at page 270 in Jacobson]

We could see them [Confederate Generals on the field at a distance] casting doubting glances in the direction of the formidable foe in our front; and judging from the appearance of their grave and serious looks, we all knew that our commanders in some degree realized the dept of that yawning gulf of destruction which awaited them and us, and which only too soon would engulf us all.

– An unknown Confederate soldier; quoted in Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: page 37.

A profound silence pervaded the entire army; it was simply awful, reminding one of those sickening lulls which precede a tremendous thunderstorm.

– Confederate, John M. Copley, A Sketch of the Battle of Franklin, p. 48.

Go back, and tell them to fight like hell.

– Union General George Wagner instructing the courier to return to Wagner’s men on the frontline, who would take the initial blunt from Hood’s assault.

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.

– A Mississippian survivor who faced the withering fire from Stiles’ brigade on the Union left flank at the opening of the battle.

Great God! Do I command cowards?

– Confederate General William Loring, as he witnessed scores of his Mississippians running for their lives back toward the pike, after facing the initial onslaught of the fire from Casement’s and Stiles’ brigade on the Union left flank.

Never before did a command of the approximate strength of Casement’s in as short a period of time kill and wound as many.

– Union soldier, B.F. Thompson, 112th Illinois, in History; p. 277. Casement’s brigade was made up of 65th and 124th Indian, and the 65th Illinois.

Dam*ed Rebel sons of b_____es . . . . stand here like rocks, and whip the h___ out of them.

John S. Casement, Union commander of the 2nd brigade

Regarding the violent clash between Opdycke’s men and pockets of Cleburne’s and Brown’s one survivor described the action as the contending elements of hell turned loose (so indelibly stamped that a) long life spent in peaceful pursuits will not suffice to erase or even dim them.

– A survivor of the 73rd Illinois regiment.

With no place to go and no place to hide, the Confederates mounted desperate attacks across the parapet – “as many as thirteen charges” according to one account – and the Federals lining the retrenchment methodically blasted them back. The space between the two gashes in the ground began to resemble a sepulchre, grotesquely lit by little more than gunfure blasts and artillery explosions. And in a particularly gruesome development, the men started building shelters out of the bodies of their comrades. All the while the nearly continuous fire from the gin house coursed through the huddled soldiers, exacting a bloody price with every sweep.

– Quoted in Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: page 43; Regarding the fire General George Gordon’s Confederate troops experienced as they fought in front of the Cotton Gin.

I never saw men put in such a terrible position as Cleburne’s division for a few minutes. The wonder is that any of them escaped death or capture.

– a Federal soldier, quoted in, The Battle of Franklin, M. Foster Farley, Civil War magazine; Summer 2006: p. 58.

Heads, arms, and legs were sticking out in almost every conceivable manner . . .  The air was filled with moans of the wounded.

– Capt. John Shellenberger, 50th Ohio, Union soldier.

It was impossible to exaggerate the fierce energy with which the Confederate soldiers that November afternoon threw themsleves against the works, fighting with what seemed the very madness of despair. At some of the earthworks the press of men was so great that the dead having no place to fall, remained in an upright position.

– a Federal soldier, quoted in, The Battle of Franklin, M. Foster Farley, Civil War magazine; Summer 2006: p. 58.

Our loss of officers in the battle of Franklin on the 30th was excessively large in proportion to the loss of our men. The medical director reports a very large proportion of slightly wounded men.

John Bell Hood, writing two days after the battle to Confederate  Secretary of War, James A. Seddon.  The South lost 53 of 100 regimental commanders in the field at Franklin.  Granbury’s brigade alone lost 70% of their regimental commanders.  Undeterred, Hood would unmercilously throw his beleaguered Army of Tennessee against Thomas in another suicidal attack just two weeks later, effectively destroying his army. He would be replaced within weeks of the loss at Nashville, having led the Army of Tennesse for roughly six months.

7 thoughts on “Quotes related to the battle of Franklin

  1. Why are all the historical quotes of Hood’s supporters and admirers omitted from every book, every lecture and every list of “important” quotes? Why is Hood always portrayed as the boogie-man? Doesn’t anyone have any skepticism any more?

    If Hood was such an idiot (as Wiley Sword claims), how could he have snookered generals and presidents?

    If the flank at Spring Hill came as close to success as it did, why is Hood accused of not being a tactician?

    Hood gave an arm and a leg and offered the rest of his body for Southern independence and nothing else. Has Wiley Sword done anything for free?

  2. “But the half of brave Hood’s body molders here:
    The rest was lost in honor’s bold career.
    Both limbs and fame he scattered all around,
    Yet still, though mangled, was with honor crowned;
    For ever ready with his blood to part,
    War left him nothing whole – except his heart.”

    by Pvt. Sam Watkins, “Southern Bivouac 2” (May 1884)

  3. “I have been with General Hood from the beginning of this campaign, and beg to say, disastrous as it has ended, I am not able to see anything that General Hood has done that he should not, or neglected anything that he should have done which it was possible to do. Indeed, the more that I have seen and known of him and his policy, the more I have been pleased with him and regret to say that if all had performed their parts as well as he, the results would have been very different.”

    Letter from Tennessee Gov. Isham Harris to Jefferson Davis, Dec. 25, 1864

  4. A braver man, a purer patriot, a more gallant soldier never breathed than General Hood. Aggressive, bold and eager, the “Fabian” Policy of General Johnston was opposed to all the natural impulses of his nature.
    He reveled in “a fight,” and firmly believed he could lead his troops to a victorious conclusion in the active operations he inaugurated on taking command of the Army of Tennessee. Though, as stated, he remonstrated on General Johnston’s being removed from command, yet I have no doubt his soldier heart beat with eager hope, as he was called to take his place, and he saw in fancy his brave army marching to victory.

    He was a man of singular simplicity of character and charm of manner–boyish in his enthusiasm – superbly handsome, with beautiful blue eyes, golden hair and flowing beard – broad shouldered, tall and erect – a noble man of undaunted courage and blameless life.

    We made the journey with him homeward when the war was over. I can see him now – we were in a baggage car, seated on boxes and trunks in all the misery and discomfort of the time. He sat opposite, and with calm, sad eyes looked out on the passing scenes, apparently noting nothing.

    The cause he loved was lost – he was overwhelmed with humiliation at the utter failure of his leadership – his pride was wounded to the quick by his removal from command and Johnston’s reinstatement in his place; he was maimed by the loss of a leg in battle. In the face of his misery, which was greater than our own, we sat silent – there seemed no comfort anywhere. And the ending of his life, years after, was even more somber – dying by the side of his wife with yellow fever and leaving a family of little children to mourn a father, who, though unsuccessful in the glorious ambition of his young manhood, left to them the precious heritage of a stainless name, linked ever with the highest courage and purest patriotism.

    Louise Wigfall’s memoirs, “A Southern Girl in 1861: The War-Time Memories of a Confederate Senator’s Daughter”

  5. In the last paragraph of the original post is the following…”Undeterred, Hood would unmercilously throw his beleaguered Army of Tennessee against Thomas in another suicidal attack just two weeks later, effectively destroying his army.”

    Will the hysteria and hyperbole never end?

    Hood marched north after Franklin and heavily entrenched two miles south of Nashville. On Dec. 15 Thomas attacked Hood! Hood did not throw his army against Thomas in “another suicidal attack”! If any suicidal attack was ordered at the Battle of Nashville it was the USC troops on the Union left. At the Battle of Nashville Hood’s army lost an estimated 1,500 killed and wounded, Thomas lost 2,500.

    When it comes to considering anything related to Gen. Hood, amateur and professional historians alike seem either incapable or unwilling to engage in composed, accurate, reasonable, dispassionate analysis and commentary.

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