There was just one main pedestrian downtown Franklin bridge crossing the Harpeth River in late 1864 [red square]. Rebels in Franklin destroyed and burned the bridge before November 30, 1864. Thus, when the Federal Army, under Schofield, attempted to cross it early on the morning of Nov 30th, they were not able to. As a result, the entire Federal Army had to prepare entrenchments and protective breastworks in the event that the Confederate Army would attack once they caught up with the Federals in downtown Franklin. As fate would have it, both armies would clash around downtown Franklin for five hours starting around 4 p.m. on November 30, 1864. The Federals rebuilt the main Harpeth River bridge, constructed a pontoon bridge (blue square) and planked over the Nashville-Decatur railroad bridge in order to get their army across the river as fast as possible and make it to Nashville in the early hours of December 1st. As the Federals fled the battlefield in the evening of the 30th – heading for Nashville – they burned the Harpeth River bridge, probably removed the pontoon bridge they had laid that same day, and pulled up the planks to the Nashville-Decatur bridge, leaving the railroad bridge itself undisturbed.
So what are the top ten things to know about the bridge situation in downtown Franklin on the morning of the 30th of November when the Federal Army arrived, heading for Nashville?
What does Eric Jacobson write in For Cause & For Country about the bridges in Franklin at the time of the battle?
I recently found this excellent map of the Battle of Franklin. It was auctioned off by Case Antiques in 2012. It is identified as: titled “The Battlefield in front of Franklin Tennessee, where the U.S. forces consisting of the 4th and 23d corps and the Cav. corps uner the command of MAJOR GENERAL J.M. SCHOFIELD severely repulsed the Rebel Army commanded by LT. GEN. HOOD November 30, 1864, compiled under the direction of Col. W.E. Merrill, Chief Engineer, from surveys made by Major James R. Willett.” – See more at: http://caseantiques.com/item/lot-72-folding-map-battle-of-franklin/#sthash.9CYOgdF6.dpuf
It went for $1,856.00
Also auctioned off in 2013 was this important letter from a Union cavalry soldier:
Pvt. Albert Swap, 7th Illinois Cavalry, Co C, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 30, 1864
[The 7th Illinois was part of Hatch’s Division, Coon’s Brigade. They served with the 2nd IA, 6th & 9th Illinois, and the 12th TN Cavs.]
“…you said you suppose Chas Dewey would arrive before I received this message of yours, so he did, but I regret to say he is among the missing on our trip to this place. We left Memphis on the 17th and was 9 days on the River there was several men drowned before we arrived at his place and C. L. D. and John R. Chapman of Co. C are among the missing. The last I saw of them was about two miles above New Madrid, Mo….
It has now been 62 days since the Regt. went out on this scout, they are now about 40 miles from this place at Columbia where they are having some very hard fighting with Hood’s Army. Genl. Thomas is out there with two corps of Infantry but the rebs still drive him back. We could hear very heavy cannonading in that direction for about an hour this morning. There is going to be some very hard fighting about this city in a short time if they keep driving our men back. We are camped about two miles from the city and they are going to move us in towards the city as they think we are exposed to a raid from the Lebanon Pike…
There is considerable excitement here today the Rebel General Hood is still driving our men they are now within 20 miles of this place. Some of our men who have come from the front seem to think that Genl. Thomas is falling back to get the rebels where he can gain some advantage over them while others seem to think they are two strong for us, if the latter there will be some hard fighting and then we will either have to fall back or be gobbled but we must always look on the bright side of everything…
But alas how many of our Brave soldiers are falling hourly as I am penning you these poor lines, the sullen booming of the cannon that I can hear very plainly speaks of death…to the soldier…”
This Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 CST Battle of Franklin preservationists and enthusiasts will gather at the site of the Carter cotton gin site behind the Domino’s to celebrate the official purchase of the Domino’s and strip mall property where the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin was fought.
I’ve blogged on this many times.
Speakers at the ceremony include Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer, Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, Caroll Van West co-chairman of the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission, Franklin’s Charge member Julian Bibb and Battle of Franklin Trust Historian Eric Jacobson.
This Google map below shows the strip mall area in relation to the original troop placements.