Lucky Confederate officer fell sickly in Columbia, missed Franklin; comrades did not fare so well

I recently purchased a nice Confederate letter from Major William J. Crook, 13th Tennessee Infantry. It is dated December 10, 1864 and is written from Nashville.  Crook wrote several letters during the Civil War. Several of them are on file at the University of Tennessee Knoxville library.

In his Dec 10, 1864 letter Crook recounts the casualties his unit and division saw at Franklin. Fortune had smiled on the Major, who fell sickly in Columbia just a couple days before the Franklin action, thus missing the horrible Franklin action.

Major William J. Crook, 13th Tennessee Infantry, was lucky enough to survive the Battle of Franklin.   The 13th was part of Vaughan’s Brigade, under Brig Gen George B. Gordon.  The 13th TN fought with the 11th, 12th/47th, 29th and 51st/52nd TN Infantries at Franklin.

The 13th TN was on the furthest right of the advancing Gordon Brigade, just west of the Columbia Turnpike.  Gordon’s men overtook Wagner’s (Union) men as they retreated back behind the Federal line in the opening battle sequence. Once reaching the Federal line in front of the Fountain Branch Carter farm, Gordon’s Brigade and he 13th TN met fierce resistance from Opdycke’s and Strickland’s Briagades.  There was brutal hand-to-hand fighting here.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville library states this about William J. Crook:

William Jere Crook was born to Jeremiah and Mary (Arnold) Crook on October 20, 1836. He enlisted in Company I of the 13th Tennessee Infantry (CSA) as a Corporal on May 30, 1861 and was promoted to Captain on August 14 of the same year. Crook was seriously wounded and captured in Murfreesboro on December 31, 1862 and was exchanged in early 1863. He returned to his regiment and was promoted to Major on November 18, 1863. Crook was captured again near Athens, Georgia on May 8, 1865 and apparently released at the end of the war. He returned to Tennessee, where he married his cousin, Hattie Crook. William J. Crook died on January 10, 1881.

Here is a complete transcript of Crook’s letter. It is copyright protected and cannot be used without permission.

Copyright 2012, The Kraig McNutt Civil War Collection

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