New York Times headline, December 4, 1864 – The Battle of Franklin

FURTHER DETAILS OF THE BATTLE AT FRANKLIN.

CINCINNATI, Saturday, Dec. 3. The correspondent of the Gazette, writing from Nashville, gives the following particulars of the battle of Franklin, Tennessee: The plan of the battle was very simple. We had no time in fact to get up a complete plan, as the enemy pressed us too sorely and obliged us to fight him. The original plan was to withdraw the force of Gen. SCHOFIELD until the meeting of our reinforcements, and then give battle in the vicinity of Nashville, but the over-sanguine rebels pressed us too hard, and when SCHOFIELD perceived he could not avoid a contest, he drew up his army in line of battle in front of Franklin. At 3:30 the assault was commenced by the rebels. CHEATHAM’s corps was on the right, STEWART’s on the left and S.D. LEE’s in reserve, on the centre. CHEATHAM threw his whole corps on WAGNER’s division with great impetuosity, and, after an hours’ desecrate fighting, he pushed WAGNER back on our second line, where WAGNER’s men became mingled with those of COX’s and RUGER’s on our left and centre. The rebels encouraged by their success in driving back WAGNER with loud cheers, advanced on our second line. Their order of advance was very peculiar — a semicircle of two regiments deep extending all around our lines, and behind each alternate regiment was placed four others — so that the assaulting columns were six regiments deep. Gen. HOOD appeared about 4 P.M. at the head of his command, and, pointing toward our lines, said: “Break those lines, boys, and you have finished the war in Tennessee! Break them and there is nothing to oppose your march from Nashville to the Ohio River!” Loud and ringing cheers answered the words of the rebel leader, while the whole space in front of our lines was crammed with the advancing enemy. Capt. LYMAN, commanding an artillery brigade in the Fourth Corps, had placed his batteries in most favorable positions, and from these storms of shot and shell were hurled into the charging rebel ranks. With the most reckless bravery still the rebels rushed on, and when within a few hundred yards of our works our boys opened upon them a terrible fire of musketry, that it seemed as if it was impossible for anything to live before it. But no wavering was perceived in those advancing rebel lines. On they came to the very parapets of our works, and stuck their bayonets under the logs on our battlements. On the Columbus Pike the pressure upon our lines was so great that some of COX’s and WAGNER’s men temporarily gave way. Up to this time the brigade commanded by Col. OPDIKE, of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Ohio, had been held in reserve. Col. OPDIKE, by the orders of Gen. STANLEY, rushed forward with his brigade to restore our broken line. The rebels who had crawled over our works, had not time to retire and COX’s and WAGNER’s men, who had broken away but a moment before, rallied and attacked the enemy on the flank, while OPDYKE charged on the front. A desperate hand-to-hand fight ensued with bayonets and the but-ends of muskets. A hundred rebels were captured here and the line was restored. For two hours and a half the battle now raged all along our lines. The men of the Fourth and Twenty-third Corps vied with each other in bravery. RILEY’s brigade, of the Twenty-third Corps, fairly covered the ground in front of it with rebel dead. The rebel Gen. ADAMS was killed. He and his horse fell into a ditch in front of the One Hundred and Fourth Ohio. Seventeen distinct attacks of the enemy were repelled. At dusk the rebels were repulsed at all points, but the firing did not close until 9 o’clock at night. At least 5,000 rebels were Killed, wounded and captured, while our loss will probably reach fifteen hundred. We have taken from the enemy thirty flags; some regiments, among them the Seventieth Ohio, taking half a dozen each. Gen. SCHOFIELD directed the battle from the fort on the north bank of the stream, where some heavy guns and the batteries of the Twenty-third Corps were placed, and which did great service in damaging the enemy’s right wing.

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