The 8th Tennessee (Union) Infantry at Franklin (Nov 30th 1864)

James A. Hampton was a member of the 8th TN Infantry (USA), which fought at Franklin.

The 8th Tennessee Infantry fought in the 3rd division, 1st Brigade, led by Brig Gen James A Reilly, at Franklin (Nov 30, 1864).

The 1st Brigade was made up of the 12th and 16th KY, the 100th, 104th and 175th Ohio, and the 8th TN.

The other two brigades fighting with Reilly’s were Casement’s and Stiles.

See a larger map of the 8th’s position at Franklin

Reilly’s brigade was quite active at Franklin capturing eight color flags of the enemy.

“At the main line, Alvah and his Union comrades watched in horror as the men of Wagner’s 2nd & 3rd Brigades were overrun by the advancing Rebel onslaught. It wasn’t too long before Wagner’s men began pouring down the Columbia Pike and up and over the breastworks into the protection of the main Federal line. Strickland and Reilly’s Brigades of the 23rd Army Corps were soon overwhelmed with their comrades and Rebels coming through at almost the exact same time. The tidal wave of fleeing Federals and screaming Rebels caused the front Union regiments in the line to break apart in the confusion. Retreating commanders of Wagner’s brigades yell for their troops to “rally in the rear.” The men of Strickland and Reilly’s Brigades hear this and believe the order is for them too, and fall back also. The Confederates have now penetrated deep into the Union center and have begun to surround the Carter House. Disaster seems loom for the Federal troops.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Report of Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, U.S. Army,
commanding Army of the Ohio. (on the battle of Franklin)

Brigadier-General Reilly, commanding (temporarily) the Third Division, Twenty-third Corps, maintained his lines with perfect firmness, and captured twenty battle-flags along his parapet.

The Third Division saw 48 killed, 185 wounded, 97 missing at Franklin. Those were the highest casualty numbers for any division in the 23rd Army Corp at Franklin.

According to Jacobsen, For Cause and Country (Ch.8):

“As Opdycke’s men stopped the confederate push west of Columbia Pike, the 12th Kentucky, 16th Kentucky, 175th Ohio, and 8th Tennessee regiments of Reilly’s reserve tried to do the same to the east. After the 1st Kentucky Battery and the front line had been overrun, the men of these four regiments moved forward, the Kentuckians in the lead. Several of Opdycke’s Illinois regiments also helped Reilly’s reserves. Some of the Kentucky companies had Colt Revolving Rifles, and the Confederates were exhausted from their long sprint to the Federal lines. To make matters worse, the Confederates had become disorganized and could not present a coherent line to face this new threat. These reserves managed to drive the Confederates out of the Federal main works east of the Columbia Pike. The Confederate breakthrough was growing smaller.”

Wiley Sword (from pages 223-224):

“About forty yards from Reilly’s works, and nearly in front of the salient at the cotton gin, an ounce of lead, little more than a half inch in diameter and traveling about 1,000 feet per second, found its mark. It was the work of but an instant; a great chasm in Southern history frozen in microseconds. In one shocking moment Pat Cleburne collapsed to the ground, carrying with him perhaps the best hopes of a dying Confederacy’s western army. A lone minie ball had struck just below and to the left of his heart, shredding veins and arteries like tissue paper as it ripped through his body. In a few moments he breathed his last. Pat Cleburne lay dead, his battle saber still grasped firmly in his hand, and his lifeblood soaking the white linen shirt and gray uniform vest with a slowly expanding blotch of crimson. After all the glory and the anguish, it had come to this. Perhaps the South’s most brilliant major general, the “Stonewall Jackson of the West,” his ideas scorned by his president and his competence punished by his commanding general, had been required to lead a suicidal frontal attack like some captain of infantry. Was it God’s decreed fate, or simply man’s stupidity?

One thought on “The 8th Tennessee (Union) Infantry at Franklin (Nov 30th 1864)

  1. Ok, so this is long overdue, but I just recently found a familial connection (not a direct ancestor, though) to Thomas Bible, Capt. Co. C 8th TN Infantry. In so doing, I searched the internet for items on the unit and, along with your blog post, I ran across a transcription of a rather blunt diary he kept during the war, which can be found here: http://www.genealogyforyou.com/usa/tennessee/greene/bdiary1.htm

    He describes the Battle of Franklin, much more than he does most events, as such:


    Nov. 29th.
    Regiment relieved by the 12th Kentucky Infantry at break of day; heavy skirmishing and cannonading. At 2 o’clock P.M., under cover of artillery, river banks and vastly superior numbers, the enemy enveloped the 12th Ky. Inf. (with heavy loss) drove them back upon the 16th. Ky. Inf., who charged and drove the Rebel Brigade back to the river; recovering all the ground lost. At dark we marched, passing the Rebel forces at Spring Hill, arriving at Franklin about daylight.

    Nov. 30th.
    Slept one hour; built breastworks. About 4 o’clock in the evening, the Rebels drove in our Rear Guard and immediatly thereafter the Great and bloody battle of Franklin was begun. /The enemy numbering two to our one. They suddenly burst in upon our center, forcing in one Division of the Fourth Army Corps, who passed through our Brigade. In doing so, the 104th. Ohio (in front of us) gave away and all came rushing back upon us, leaving a breach in the center of our line. We were immediatly ordered to advance and take their place, which was obeyed. Then came the Awful struggle: One volley and then another; then rose the war cry and the clash of arms rose higher. Massed Batteries on our right, poured into their ranks their missles of death until the earth seemed to real, rock and tremble and the ground was strewn with wounded, dead and dying. The Sun hid his face in the smoke of battle until he sank below the horizon and left the awful scene in darkness and Victory to the Union Arms. At 10 o’clock P.M. we quietly crossed the river and fell back to Nashville.

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