9th TN Cavalry (partisan ranger) writes of action at Franklin

Transcription provided by Cowan’s auction:

“As November 1864 marches on, so do the Confederate troops led by Confederate Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood. Battle remarks about the excitement building among citizens in Tennessee as they anticipate Hood’s moving towards Nashville. “All in high spirits about the rebels coming half again into our old country,” he writes on November 27th. He hears the arms at the Battle of Franklin, on November 30, 1864, and writes that “The fight was terrific beyond description.”

On December 1st as the Yankees retreated towards Nashville, Battle is chased by the Yankees again, only to elude capture. Despite the Rebels devastating losses at Franklin, Battle and the men are “overjoyed” with the presence of the Confederates and “delighted at the idea of being in the rebel lines….”

Finally able to move freely in his home town of College Grove without the fear of capture, Battle begins recruiting young men for the CSA.  “The citizens of conscript age all anxious to join me. Travel around in the afternoon for recruits. Get a good many….”

Cowan’s description of the diary:

Confederate diary of Robert I. Battle, CSA surgeon turned Morgan’s Raider and Confederate spy. Diary measures 3.5 x 5.5 in., black cloth, 75 pp, in pencil. Entries are dated April 26, 1864, to June 18, 1864, then September 27, 1864, to January 4, 1865, with near daily entries during these periods during which Battle served as a scout and spy. Fascinating content details his movements through enemy lines, skirmishes with Union soldiers, the hospitality of Southern sympathizers, Union efforts to apprehend him, references to the Battles of Franklin and Nashville, and more.
Robert Irvine Battle (1842-1921) was born near Nashville, Tennessee, to Col. William Mayo Battle and Sarah Jane Smith Battle. After graduating from the Nashville Medical College in 1860, he enlisted in the Confederate Army on 6/1/1861 as a surgeon in Company B, Tennessee 20th Infantry Regiment. Sometime after the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862), Battle was captured and taken prisoner in West Tennessee. Records list him as a POW on 5/1/1862, and indicate he was confined at Johnson’s Island prison camp in Ohio on or around 5/10/1862.
After six months in prison, a prisoner exchange landed the young surgeon in Richmond, VA, where he then joined General John Hunt Morgan’s forces as part of the Tennessee 9th Cavalry. Battle’s 1921 obituary indicates that he was with General Morgan on his famous summer 1863 raid into Ohio, and that he was among the men of Co. C led by Captain J. D. Kirkpatrick who escaped capture at Buffington Island. These men then made their way on foot through West Virginia and back to the Confederate Army. The obituary then states that upon reaching the Confederate Army, Battle was made headquarters scout for General Benjamin J. Hill, assuming the role with a hand-picked group of men of whom he was made captain. In the summer and fall of 1864 and 1865, General Hill served various roles in the CSA, but remained in the Tennessee region. Like Robert Battle, General Hill was a Tennessee native, and no doubt the General selected Battle as a scout in part because of his familiarity with the territory in which they were fighting.

Cockrell’s Missourians at Franklin suffered horrific casualties

BG Francis M. Cockrell

Brigadier-General Francis M. Cockrell led a brigade under Samuel G. French at Franklin. It was all-Missouri brigade: 1st-4th (Garland), 2nd-6th (Flournoy, Carter), 3rd-5th (Canniff), and 1st-3rd MO Cav dismounted (Gates). Of these, Garland and Canniff were killed, Carter and Gates were wounded. Cockrell himself was lucky, he had two horses shot out from under him and was wounded in the right arm, left leg, and right ankle.  Garland was shot while carrying the 1st Missouri flag. Canniff was within ten yards of the line when he was shot.

Cockrell’s men assaulted the Federal line just east of the cotton gin. Jacobson says it is likely that Cockrell’s Missourian’s were the first Confederate’s to hit the Federal line. They would have been warmly greeted by the 65th Indiana Infantry (Casement).

“The Federals obliterated the Missouri ranks, and a Confederate captain said the air “was all red and blue flames, with shells and bullets screeching everywhere…” The barrage was so intense that some of the Missourians actually turned their shoulders into the firestorm and bent down at the knees in the hope of getting through.” [Citation: Jacobson, Eric A.. For Cause and Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill & the Battle of Franklin (Kindle Locations 5978-5980)]

Map excerpt from Eric Jacobson’s For Cause and For Country.

Years after the war Cockrell said the following about Franklin, “When I got these wounds I was at the front line right in the midst of the fight. I tried my right leg, and when I found out i couldn’t walk on it, I hobbled off the field. It was not until the surgeon was working on my right ankle that I found I had been wounded in my left leg.” [Citation: The Civil War Times, December 2017: p. 55]

After the war, Cockrell said this of his brigade at Franklin. “I lost two-thirds [at Franklin] having had every fourth man killed dead, or mortally wounded, and since died. This was by far the fiercest and bloodiest and hottest battle I have ever been in. My Brigade acted more handsomely, defiantly and recklessly than on any field of the war; and you know what it required to eclipse all former conduct on so many bloody fields.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 10.26.12 AM.png

Marker located at Winstead Hill Park in Franklin

“They march quietly, and boldly, and steadily through the broken and fleeing ranks of at least twice their own number, and no man wavered – all to the stop, with colors six paces in front, just like a drill, and never brought their guns from a ‘right shoulder shift’ until within thirty or forty yards of the enemy’s works. and then fired by order, and hurled themselves against the works. It was grand and terrible in the extreme.Almost all were killed and wounded very near the works, or in the ditches of the works. I have no language to paint the scene.” [Citation: The Civil War Times, December 2017: p. 55-56.]

Historian Gottshalk (In Deadly Earnest) says that Cockrell had 696 men who went into the fight at Franklin and they suffered 419 total casualties.

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 10.29.09 AM.png

The Missouri section at McGavock

Here are the known/identified Missourian’s from Cockrell’s brigade buried at McGavock Confederate Cemetery:

Garland: 1st MO – 8 and 4th MO – 6 for a total of 14 men
Flournoy, Carter:  2nd MO -13 and 6th MO – 7 for a total of 20 men
Canniff: 3rd MO – 15 and 5th MO 11 for a total of 26 men
Gates: 1st MO Cav dis – 10 and 3rd MO Cav dis – 11 for a total of 21 men

Of these 114 total Confederate known-dead at McGavock, Cockrell’s Missourian’s accounted for 81 of the 114.

[Citation: The McGavock Confederate Cemetery (2017): p. 187.]

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 11.30.34 AM.png

For further reading:


Tags: Battle of Franklin | Francis M. Cockrell | Missouri | Indiana | 65th Indiana Infantry | John Casement | Cotton gin | 1st Missouri Infantry | CSA | McGavock Confederate Cemetery | Ed Bearss