Maj.-Gen. B. F. Cheatham.
“On the morning of the 4th of December,” says General Cheatham, “I went to the headquarters of General Hood, and referring to his note and the criticism that had evidently been made by some one, I said to him, ‘A great opportunity was lost at Spring Hill, but you know that I obeyed your orders there, as everywhere, literally and promptly.’ General Hood not only did not dissent from what I said, but exhibited the most cordial manner, coupled with confidence and friendship.”
At daylight Cheatham’s corps passed through the village of Spring Hill, and between 1 and 2 o’clock p.m. the army reached the vicinity of Franklin, and Stewart’s and Cheatham’s corps were put in positions. The enemy was heavily intrenched and was superior in numbers and equipment. On the morning of the battle, General Schofield, commanding the Federal army, had behind his works 23,734 infantry and artillery, and his cavalry numbered 5,500. Maj.-Gen. J. D. Cox, U. S. A., upon whose authority these figures are given, states in his history of the battle of Franklin that Hood delivered the assault on the Federal lines with “two or three hundred less than 24,000” men, and gives Forrest’s strength at 9,000. Maj.-Gen. John C. Brown reported that on the morning of November 29, 1864, he had not exceeding 2,750 men in his division, the largest in Cheatham’s corps, and the three divisions did not exceed 6,000. Smith’s brigade of Cleburne’s division was not present. Stewart’s corps after Allatoona was less than 7,000, and with Johnson’s division of Lee’s corps, the assaulting column did not exceed 16,000 men. General Forrest stated in his official report that the entire cavalry force under his command was about 5,000.
Bate’s division was on the left, Brown’s in the center, Cleburne’s on the right. General Bate says his line “charged the works of the enemy. My right got to the works (the second line) and remained there until morning;’the left was driven back. The enemy’s works were strong and defiant, constructed on a slight elevation, with few obstructions in front for several hundred yards. The works to the left of Carter’s creek turnpike were not strong, and with a vigorous assault should have been carried; a fact, however, not known until next day.” Bate’s division sustained a loss of 47 killed and 253 wounded. Capt. Todd Carter (right), on staff duty with Smith’s Tennessee brigade, fell mortally wounded near the enemy’s works and almost at the door of his father’s house.
No more magnificent spectacle was ever witnessed than the advance of the two divisions commanded by Cleburne and Brown; no two divisions of the army were ever led with greater skill and gallantry; no generals of division were ever supported with better ability by brigade, regimental and company officers. The troops were veterans who had never failed to respond to orders, although discouraged by recent and frequent disasters; and fully alive to the desperation of the assault about to be made, they advanced with noble courage. Before troops of equal numbers in the open field they would have been irresistible, but to attack intrenched troops, superior in numbers, advancing over an open plain without cover, was a disregard of the rules of war, a waste of precious lives, and a wrecking of an army once the pride and hope of the Southwest.
Source: Confederate Military History Volume 8:
Tennessee Chapter X