63rd Indiana soldier – Ewing – provides vivid diary-account of action on Eastern Flank at Franklin

Diary entry of A.L. Ewing, Captain, 63rd Indiana Infantry

November 30, 1864

Wednesday at Franklin, Tennessee

Early dawn found the head of our weary columns fleeing into Franklin.  Just after we passed Spring Hill our wagon train was attacked by Rebel cavalry   and several wagons burned.  The headquarter guards with the train had quite a little battle before the cavalry was driven off.   Cousin Shelley was Sergt-commanding.   Among the burnt wagons was one containing my valise. Otherwise came through safely though it seems a special providence that our rear was not captured consisting of detached portions of troops and artillery and many wagons. It was a terrible march over a narrow road which was one solid mass of moving trains, artillery and infantry.  I completely lost my company in the darkness and crowding. Just as we came in sight of Franklin, I dropped in a fence corner and not particularly caring what happened, I was so worn out. But after a short rest and hearing the firing of our rear guard which was approaching, I went and found a few of my company, and in a short time all of them turned up from various quarters.  We drew rations and made coffee and was lined up in position where we proceeded to throw up temporary works as we often had done.  Our lines was extended from the Harpeth River above town to the river just below, and of a horse-shoe shape.    We rested easy until about 3 pm. Myself and company however were placed out on picket  and had dug some rifle pits to spend the night  and providing the Rebs would let us.  Between 3 and 4 pm the Rebels began showing themselves and our cavalry falling back. There was no skirmishing by us  for the Rebs formed two lines of battle  and came dashing out of the woods  in fine style, a skirmish line in front and one in the rear.    I yelled to my skirmish line to fall back to the works and started myself. Finding I had to cross the range of one or other of two cannons that were planted at angles, I chose my chances to go between them.  The cannoneers were excited and not time for one man to get out of the way. When such a good mark as those advancing columns, I gave a leap at the instant. The pieces were discharged and repaired to my company and loaded guns while the men fired. When the advancing line came up within range  the infantry behind the works , a sheet of flame leaped forth with death and wounds in it for hundreds  of the brave men fighting for an ignoble cause . The whole scene of action was soon covered with smoke that but little could be seen in detail.  For about a dozen times the Rebs was led to charge, only to be repulsed with great slaughter.  Many of their banners were planted upon our works with the most heroic determination but was met with as determined resistance.  The fight lasted for three hours and while it was going on a Reb and Union battery were having a duel overhead with their shells and shot which sometimes passed distressingly low over our heads. At eleven o’clock we were withdrawn and crossed the river on a pontoon and railroad bridge.  The Enemy discovered our retreat and came crowding down the streets of the town. Our guns opened up on them and must have done them considerable damage. The bridges were burned by our forces and they started on their third night march towards Nashville, near which place cavalry firing again commenced . We arrived in range of its big guns and forts very very tired, though rejoicing in possession of 18 captured colors and near 3,000 prisoners.

Source: Lilly Library, Indiana University

Virtual tour of Fort Granger: the Middle bastion

Fort Granger has three bastions.  The map shows the location of each one.

By definition a bastion is:

a projecting work in a fortification designed to permit fire to the flanks along the face of the wall.

When entering the fort from the parking lot one walks right up to the middle bastion. You will be standing facing the MIddle bastion, looking south.

Armament (i.e., artillery) was placed in the cul de sac of each bastion. There were 30 pounders in Granger.

Each bastion sits roughly 15 feet from the ditch on the outside.

This Google map shows the relative position of Fort Granger in the larger scope of the battlefield (Franklin). Notice the Harpeth River running in front of the fort and the railroad to the west side (running north/south).

The Eastern flank portion of the Franklin battlefield was in the direct spray of artillery from Granger. Thus, Loring’s Division, and more specifically, Featherston’s Brigade, took the worst of the Federal onslaught of artillery from Granger.

Here is a video showing the middle bastion just as you enter the fort.

To order my book on Fort Granger, or to learn more click on http://www.FortGranger.US

Capt. James G. Staley, Company F, 128th Indiana, was killed at Franklin

Capt. James G. Staley was from Monticello, IN when he enlisted 1/22/64 as a 1st Lt., into Co F. He was killed at Franklin on November 30th, 1864. The following is an account of his death. The 128th IN was positioned on the far left Union flank, in Stiles’ Brigade. They faced the onslaught of Scott’s and Featherston’s Confederate Brigades.

“… the 128th Indiana occupied breastworks near the extreme left of our line; that the enemy charged right up to and planted their colors on our works, and that their dead and dying which filled the ditches, sufficiently proved how bloody and disastrous was their repulse.

“When the assault was made, Captain Staley was standing up watching the enemy and directing the fire and the use of the bayonets of his men. Just then Captain Bissell, of the same regiment, was shot through the head and fell against Lieutenant Bliss, who, with the assistance of Captain Staley, laid him upon the ground and placed a blanket under his head. This had scarcely been done when some one called out ‘They are coming again,’ and all prepared to receive the enemy. As Captain Staley turned to the works, a minie ball struck him in the forehead, and he, too, fell into the arms of Lieutenant Bliss and died almost instantly. There was no time then to listen to parting words. A desperate hand-to-hand conflict was straining every nerve for the possession of the works. The deadly musket shot, the clash of arms as bayonet came to bayonet and sword to sword, the hurried breathing of the men through their shut teeth, their words of encouragement and mutterings of vengeance, with the thunders of the two pieces of artillery that flanked the company, combined to bring into heroic exercise every muscle of the body and every power of the mind.

“Darkness came on and still the fighting continued. Every man was needed to repulse the desperate assaults of the enemy. The body of Captain Staley was carried to the rear by the stretcher corps and buried in the same grave with that of Captain Bissell, near the large brick dwelling house on the hill south of Franklin. This statement was made by Lieutenant Bliss. The grave where the heroes slept was left unmarked, but to have done otherwise was impossible. Though we had repulsed the rebel army, it was determined to withdraw under cover of darkness, and at midnight we retreated across Harpeth river and abandoned the battlefield and Franklin to the enemy.”

Captain Staley’s remains were recovered and brought home, through the efforts of the Christian Commission arriving at Monticello on February 7, 1865, and on the 12th were reinterred with appropriate ceremonies.

A Standard History of White County Indiana  by W. H. Hamelle 1915

Several Confederate soldiers from Company K, 33rd Mississippi lost their lives at Franklin

Loring’s Division (Lt. Gen. A.P. Stewart’s Corps) lost (killed) 334 men at Franklin. Gen Scott lost 126. Featherston lost 68, and Adams lost 43.

Featherston’s Brigade consisted of:

  • 1st Battalion, Mississippi Sharpshooters ( 0 killed )
  • 1st MS Infantry ( 6 killed)
  • 3rd MS ( 14 killed )
  • 22nd MS ( 8 killed )
  • 31st MS ( 21 killed)
  • 33rd MS ( 10 killed )
  • 40th MS ( 9 killed )
Loring’s Division marched across what is now known as the Eastern Flank part of the Franklin battlefield, traversing the McGavock farm.  What these men hardly knew was that they literally walked across ground upon which so many of them would be buried following the battle.

 
The 33rd Mississippi Infantry, Company K, lost at least six known, and perhaps several more buried in now unknown plots.

Here are pictures of the markers of identified 33rd MS, Company K men buried at McGavock.

Regarding Shaw, Jacobson writes: ” About ‘fifteen paces from the works’ Lt. Henry Clay Shaw saw the color bearer of the 33rd Mississippi fall with the flag. Shaw picked it up and scrambled to the parapet. As he tried to shove the staff into the dirt Shaw was killed, ‘his body falling in the trench, the colors falling in the works.”

See: Jacobson (For Cause: p. 322.  Also:  OR 45, pt. 1, p. 322, 331, 338, 430.

As you can see from the map below, Featherston’s men faced the Hoosier boys from Stiles’s Brigade on the far left Union flank.

Historian Eric Jacobson talks about Loring’s advance at the Battle of Franklin.


Update: Franklin gets $500K from TN Transportation Dept to help with Eastern Flank construction

Governor Haslam Announces Transportation Grant for Franklin

[Text sourced from State web site]

Grant to fund Eastern Flank Battlefield Access Improvement Project

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer joined state and local leaders today to announce the award of a $500,000 transportation enhancement grant to the city of Franklin for the Eastern Flank Battlefield Access Improvement Project.

The Eastern Flank Battlefield Access Improvement Project includes the construction of an access drive from Lewisburg Pike to the Eastern Flank Battlefield property. The project also includes visitor center parking, interpretive trail network, landscaping, bike racks, signage, bio-retention area and other pedestrian amenities.

“Tennessee’s Civil War battlefields are wonderful educational destinations, and they attract thousands of visitors to the state each year,” Haslam said. “It is imperative we preserve these areas and make the necessary improvements to ensure they are accessible to residents and visitors. I’m pleased the state can contribute to those efforts.”

The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by TDOT.

“Through Transportation Enhancement grants, TDOT has funded more than $259 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” Schroer said. “Established by Congress in the early 1990’s, the program supports activities designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic and environmental aspects of the nation’s transportation system.”

A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

State Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and state Reps. Glen Casada (R-Franklin), Phillip Johnson (R-Pegram) and Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) represent Williamson County in the Tennessee General Assembly.