90th Ohio chaplain writes about battles of Franklin and Nashville, Hood’s Retreat

William C. Holliday, Chaplain in the 90th Ohio Infantry, Co. S
Battle of Franklin detail
Dec 7-8th, 1864
The 90th Ohio was next engaged during the Franklin-Nashville Campaign in late 1864. In a letter spanning 7-8 December 1864, Holliday writes to his wife about a skirmish preceding the Battle of Nashville, and also about a young girl,
“…A black Negro woman apparently 26 years old with a little girl about as old as Lama and just about as white. As about the same color and as curly as long as used to be. She is very smart. Ask her who her father is. ‘His name is Jones. He is a white man. In the rebel Army.’ And so it is. That’s the kind of children they sell in the South. Great God! What an institution is slavery…It is about 2 p.m. I went to the regt this morning. Had not been there more than an hour until the rebels advanced their skirmish lines and drove our skirmishers back more than 1/4 of a mile. Then our boys rally and drove them back. From where our regiment is we could see the whole thing. I looked fine to see our boys all along the line driving the rebel skirmishers. They would shoot and run. It appeared to be in advance of the rebels all along the line. One of the boys of my regiment was shot, poor fellow. I am afraid he will die. Shot in back, the ball coming out of the side of bowels. I rode down in the ambulance with him to the hospital…The rebels I think intended it as a faint, to cover some other movements. The day is quite cool. Coming in the ambulance the wounded boy was cold. I took off my overcoat and put over him…”
Battle of Nashville detail
(Writing on Dec 15th) . . . he briskly describes the Battle of Nashville where the regiment lost 5 killed and 15 wounded, “Ma, A terrible battle today. We are victorious. About 20 casualties in my regt. Many of whom are yet to be cared for to night. I am well. God be praised.”
On 21 December 1864, he writes about the Battle to his brother James, “…Our regiment Brigade Division and Corps, did nobly in Nashville. On the one day of the fight the 21 Indiana and 81, 101 Ohio and our regiment charged to fortified hill and took it. We lost about 25 Men. I think there were five killed and 25 wounded. Probably six or eight of them mortally. Killed – Jo Bond Co. C, Emmerich D, Sylvester Smith E…Segt. Harris shot through both thighs, one amputated. Must have died same night. Perry Edward H shot through face, tongue merely shot into. Could neither talk nor eat. Must Die. Walker H shot through side, fear he must die. There are several others who may die. Sergeant Thurman arm fractured…Dave. C. Connor leg amputated above knee. …Sergt. Parsons escaped death narrowly. Ball struck the plate on his belt. Would have gone through him but for that. The regiment added new Laurels to its name…On the second the rebels were completely flanked and were charged from several points. On the one day they were so flanked on the right that they had to fall back on the left and Centre leaving to very strong lines of works. There were nearly 60 pieces of artillery taken, about an equal number of each day. On the second day our Court took 13 pieces. I saw a nine of them. They left thousands of small arms. There were a few unsuccessful attacks or charges made. The rebels in fact left everything and went or rather were driven like a drove of cattle, for it is a strange fact that  these mounted officers rode between the rebels and our men with drawn swords and compelled them to retreat. Was ever such a thing heard of before?…”
Hood’s Retreat detail
He continues to describe the Battle of Nashville in a letter to his mother dated 18 December 1864,      “…Yesterday morning we moved early in the AM. Our troops had moved rapidly after the panic stricken and fleeing rebels about four miles. It was night. They slept on the mud and under the rain. It rained all day, but this army is so flushed with victory that they did splendid marching though tired and worn from two days incesent fighting and almost sleepless nights. We came about fifteen miles. Rebels are still going. It is the greatest victory of the war. About fifty pieces of artillery captured. Rebels have but three or four cannon left. We have now over three hundred wounded who were left here at the battle of Franklin. Fifteen hundred Rebel wounded all here and have fallen into our hands. We have only lost about three thousand or four thousand in the battle at Nashville. I saw about 200 of our dead lying on about one acre of ground. They were our men…”
And also on 18 December, in a letter to his wife, “…In Franklin I had an opportunity of riding over the battlefield. The rebels suffered terribly. They assaulted our works and were killed by the hundred. I counted on one side of the pike 350 graves. There were as many on the other side. I never saw a more joyful set of men then were our prisoners who had been in the hand of the Rebels for two weeks. The rebels came through Franklin and a great hurry. Our cavalry captured 5 pieces of artillery there. Quite a number of rebels have been captured…There were 30 casualties in our regiment. 5 killed, five or six mortally wounded. The regiment came off well in view of what they pass through. They and our whole army are in fine spirits. The rebels were badly whipped…”
(Writing 12/26/64 . . . The day after Christmas, Holliday writes from Pulaski, Tenneesse, where he describes skirmishing and the destruction of the city, “…The rebels are being closely followed and fighting occurs with our cavalry and theirs every day. They do not get time to burn bridges over the large streams. At Pulaski there is a large bridge which they fired in several places, but our cavalry was so close on to them that they prevented its destruction. At Pulaski we left our sick and stored about half our hospital stores and then struck out on a mud road. Emphatically such mud I never went through before…Where we are going I cannot tell. To the Tennessee River no doubt, but what point I know not. We follow the rebels. I saw great destruction that the rebels made yesterday which shows their desperate state. In Pulaski they piled up 18 wagon loads of ammunition and burned it. This side of town there were the remains of about 15 burned wagons with shot and shell, grape and canister scattered all around. They have destroyed in all near here nearly 50 wagon loads of fixed ammunition…I rather think we will return back after the rebels are pursued across the Tennessee…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s