Letter transcripts courtesy Raymond Drake, full transcripts at Edward Stevens’ Civil War Letters.
Dec. 2nd, 1864
We have fell back as far as Nashville with the enemy close upon us. We had a desperate fight at Franklin, eighteen miles from here. Our Regt. loss is heavy. The most I regret is we lost our Battle Flag, but honorably, as we was the only Regt that stood our ground. We are expecting attack every moment so I must stop. I’m all safe as yet. Will give you a more minute description of the battle when I write again.
Edward Stevens, 72nd Illinois Infantry
Dec 10, Nashville
[In part] The Battle of Franklin was almost enough to suit me. Our Regiments loss is one hundred and fifty-eight killed and wounded. I would like to give you the particulars of the fight, but it is too cold.
Dec 23rd, Columbia, Tenn
[In part] Hood is still on the skiddadle. I should like to know how much farther we will follow him. I hope they will give us winter quarters soon. We are now in Genl Smiths command, which used to be the sixteenth corp, but it is now composed of detachments from different ones. Ours is the first Brigade, Third Division detachment of the 17th A. Corps, but it generally all called the sixteenth corps. There is one thing l like about this command. They are all old troops. I never want to get into a fight with new troops again as there is more danger from them than from the enemy. We had a fair trial of that at Franklin. We were then with the 23rd corp in which is a number of conscrípts and raw recruits.
Your affectionate son,
History of the 72nd at Franklin:
“At Franklin, [they] hastily threw up some light earthworks. About 4 o’clock that afternoon Hood attacked them, and the battle raged from that hour until midnight, with terrific fury. In that fight the Seventy-second lost 9 officers out of 16 engaged, and 152 men, who were either killed or severely wounded. That night they left their works and retreated towards Nashville, which they reached on December 1; and here the Seventy-second was thrown on the extreme right of the Federal lines enclosing Nashville. under command of General A. J. Smith.
– Adjutant General’s Report