Nashville [Franklin], TN after battle report:
Reports of Col. Oscar W. Sterl, One hundred and fourth Ohio Infantry, of operations November 30 and December 15-16, 1864.
HDQRS. 104TH REGT. OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY,
Nashville, Tenn., December 6, 1864.
SIR: In obedience to your command, I have the honor to transmit a report of the part taken by the One hundred and fourth Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the battle at Franklin, Tenn.
The regiment (in connection with the brigade) reached Franklin, Tenn., from Columbia, about 5 o’clock on the morning of the 30th ultimo, and bivouacked in line until about 8 a.m., when the brigade went into position in two lines, on the right of the division-the One hundredth and One hundred and fourth Ohio formed the first line, the One hundredth on the right, its right resting on the Columbia pike, and the One hundred and fourth joining it on the left. The regiment immediately erected in its front a good breast-work, most of the companies putting head-logs upon their works.
These were scarcely completed until the rebels advanced in two lines against the Second Brigade of the division, on our left. A curve in the works of the left wing of the regiment enabled the left companies to enfilade the lines of the rebels as they advanced, and the three left companies fired several rounds, doing good execution, when the rebel lines fell back in disorder and confusion.
Immediately afterward a brigade of the Fourth Corps, which had been posted on a ridge about 500 yards in front of our works, began falling back, first in good line and order, and afterward in great haste and confusion, when it became apparent that the real charge was being directed against that part of the line occupied by this regiment, the One hundredth
Ohio, and the brigade of the Second Division on the right of the pike. As the line of the Fourth Corps fell back from the ridge it was followed at a distance of not over 100 paces by the first line of the rebel infantry, which gained rapidly upon it, so that the men of the Fourth Corps had scarcely crossed our works until the ditches in front were filled with rebels, scrambling to get over the works, and in some instances, upon the right of the regiment and in front of the One hundredth Ohio, many of the rebel passed over the works in company with the rear of the Fourth Corps men.
The confusion and hurry of the crossing of this advance line, their officers crying to them, to “get to the rear and reform,” came near throwing our lines in confusion, and the three right companies borne back by them, and in doubt as to the commands, fell back a few paces, but in almost a moment afterward rushed back, with fixed bayonets, and regained their works. The
Sixteenth and Twelfth Kentucky rushed from the second line simultaneously with them, and joined them and the One hundredth Ohio, on the first line, from which (having overcome all the rebels who had crossed the works) they kept up a constant and destructive stream of fire, cutting down by hundreds the rebels who had accumulated and massed in the ditches and immediately in front. The other seven companies to the left, so soon as the Fourth Corps men had crossed, began to pour forth such a severe fire that through the rebels in greater number than their line had gained the ditches, were unable to attempt getting over the works, but were cut to pieces by the destructive fire of the men. The rebels in this charge were seen in three lines at least, but if no more, the smoke of the firing prevented us from seeing their approach. So soon as it became apparent that this charge was repulsed, the firing was stilled, and those of the rebels in the ditches who were not killed or wounded were ordered to ground arms and surrender, when about 300 climbed over the works and were sent to the rear. Then almost immediately second charge of the rebels followed, equaled only in fierce determination and bravery by that of the first charge; this was again met by a fire equally as true in aim and destruction as before, resulting in the complete repulse of the enemy, when about 200 more prisoners were taken in over the works. By the time the second charge was repulsed night had come, and, though firing was afterward directed at our line from the front, and replied to by our men, yet no subsequent charge was successful in reaching near to our works. The regiment remained in the works until after 11 p.m., when, with their command, retired across the Harpeth River, and took up the line of march toward Nashville.
Eleven rebel battle-flags were taken in front of our lines (two by Color-Corpl. Newton H. Hall,* Company I, who shot their bearers, and crossed over and captured them during the heaviest of the firing); 9 of them were turned over to brigade headquarters; the others are reported as having been sent to friends at home by mail before it was known by the captors that they should be turned over, or orders received requiring it. The slaughter of the rebels way very great, the ditches were filled with them, and the ground for many rods in front was literally covered with their dead and wounded.
The officers and men all did nobly, and when the battle was ended and the rolls called scarcely any were missing.
Our casualties in this engagement were: Killed, 1 commissioned officer, 16 enlisted men; wounded, 2 commissioned officers, 32 enlisted men; missing, 6 enlisted men; total, 3 commissioned officers and 54 enlisted men.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
O. W. STERL,
Col., 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
ACTG. ASST. ADJT. Gen., 1ST Brig., 3d DIV., 23d A. C.