Reports of Lieut. Col. Milton Barnes, Ninety-seventh Ohio Infantry, of operations November 29-30 and December 15-16, 1864.
HDQRS. NINETY-SEVENTH REGT. OHIO VOL. INFTY,
Near Nashville, Tenn., December 5, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor herewith to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the recent engagements with the enemy in the vicinity of Spring Hill and Franklin, Tenn., on the 29th and 30th,respectively, of November, 1864:
On the morning of the 29th, Col. John Q. Lane having been called to the command of the brigade, I found myself in command of the regiment, and marched from the vicinity of Columbia to Spring Hill. On nearing the latter place, and in obedience to orders, and learning that our advance was engaging the enemy, I double-quicked the regiment through and to the eastward of the town. The enemy’s cavalry were posted in heavy lines of battle in full view on the hill opposite, and were already bearing down on our skirmishers, of whom Company F, of this regiment, formed a part. Forming my line of battle quickly, and receiving an order from Col. Lane to advance, we charged rapidly down upon them, through corn-fields, over fences, and across the ravine, when the enemy began a precipitate retreat, and, with the exception of a skirmish line, soon disappeared from our immediate front, passing to the right. Our portion of the battle-line did not again become engaged during the day, but we were thrown afterward to the right in the rear of the Second Brigade, in time to check further disaster there. During the remainder of the evening observed the utmost vigilance and were busily engaged strengthening our position with whatever of means were at our command. I have the honor to report no casualties in the affair. Early on the following morning (30th) we marched to the vicinity of Franklin, arriving there about noon, and immediately began to make dispositions to resist a contemplated attack by the enemy in force. Having to change our position several times, much valuable time was lost to us in this regard. Our line was finally formed to the south of the town in the midst of an extensive open plain, where there were natural there were natural should read there were [no] natural. means of protection of defense, and several hundred yards from our main line of works on the elevation at edge of town, our position being near the right center, and to the right of the Columbia pike, two companies having been left as skirmishers on the hill half a mile beyond.
We had but fairly begun to throw a temporary work, with the very limited means at our disposal, when about 4 p. m. the enemy was seen in several heavy concentric lines, extending in a semi-circular direction, completely covering our front and flanks, and suddenly driving in our skirmishers, came surging across the plain with terrible and irresistible force. They struck first the forces on the left, then the front and center of the line, which soon gave way and exposed us to a front and enfilading fire. Seeing our troops on the left giving way, and having held our position until every other regiment both to the right and left had given way, we were left with the only alternative of retreat or capture. We then fell back under the enemy’s galling fire, with some confusion, to the main works, which we found difficult to enter in consequence of a heavy abatis of locust brush in their front. Most if not all our men succeeded, with great difficulty, in getting inside the works, and doubled on the line already there, which, together with the fact that the enemy, following closely in our rear, immediately commenced storming, and actually entering the works, created for a time an almost uncontrollable panic among both lines, and for a few moments all was in terrible confusion. At this juncture, critical in the extreme, our officers and men, with very few exceptions, exerted themselves to the utmost to turn the tide of battle. At this point it was impossible to recognize regimental or even company lines; but rallying and commingling with other regiments and companies, fought with great desperation, and nobly bore their part in the furious hand-to-hand encounter which soon resulted in hurling back the enemy and deciding the fortunes of the day. Thus they held their ground with the most stubborn heroism, repulsing the enemy at each subsequent assault, until about 10 p.m., when the firing gradually ceased. I received an order from Col. Lane in person to draw off the regiment and reorganize the line. In gathering them together they came from the front.
I have the honor to report the capture of one rebel battle-flag, taken by Sergt. Alfred Ransbottom, of Company K. I respectfully commenced him to the proper authorities for a proper acknowledgment of his personal bravery.I have the honor also to report the capture of seven prisoners.
Our casualties are as follow, viz: Officers–wounded, 5; missing,1; Enlisted men–wounded, 38; killed, 5; missing, 20. Total, 69.
The greater portion of those reported missing are supposed to be either killed or wounded and in the enemy’s hands.
Lieut. LOUIS L. COX,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Second Brigade, &c.