112th Illinois soldier writes post-Franklin account

Headquarters
112th Reg Ill Vol Inf
Fort Negley-Nashville Tn
Dec 7 1864
My Dear Wife,
I hope you had a good time going to town on the 30th, and succeeded in purchasing all you required. I wish I had been with you. That was the day we had such a terrible fight at Franklin; where men fell by thousands, and where shot and shell and grape and canister rattled thick and fast, where the whistling of bullets, the roar of cannon and the yells of the mad soldiers were enough to confuse any man’s senses, and confound his mind. Oh! What a terrible day, an awful day, and one that no man who was there can ever forget. Nearly five thousand men killed in one day; upon one field, every one of whom left a wife, a mother, a sister, or perhaps children to mourn his death. War is terrible: this war is more terrible than any other, and the end is not yet (in sight). Hood’s army continues to encircle the city, but whether he will risk an attack or will move off towards Kentucky is not yet apparent. If he goes to Kentucky, as some think he will, we will follow him. In that case we will have a long and arduous campaign before us-in the midst of a cold, wet winter. I hope Hood will attack us here, for I believe we can annihilate his army if he does . . .
Yours truly,
Brad F Thompson

Source: http://tennrebgirl.com/cgi-bin/display_Items.asp?Cat=17&Sub=206

Brad Thompson was born in Osceola Illinois, enlisting as a 1st sergeant in Co B, 112th Illinois Volunteer Infantry on Aug 12, 1862. He was promoted to 2nd Lieut March 31, 1863, served as adjutant from Nov 25, 1863, and promoted to captain April 25 1865, prior to his muster out June 20th 1865.

Green Southard, 121st Ohio Infantry, writes of early December 1864

December 1: “Soon after sun up we started in the direction of Nashville. Found the Block house Station deserted and troops moving in direction  of Murfresboro no telegraph wire cut Stoped a while in Mur. and then for Nashvill wich we made without anything occuring. Camped in front of a battery. Rained.” 
December 2: “Put up tents after the rain was over and soon had to pull down. Went out about a mile formed in two lines and put up one line of works. Picket firing commenced and some artillery in the direction of Murfersboro but no news from there. Some rebs wer visible…”.
December 3: ” Rolled out at 11 AM and stood in line till day light amidst wind and rain and I shook considerably….Fort Negley spoke a few times. No musket firing near…”
December 4: “Strengthring [sic] our works. We have very good ones….Some skirmishing and cannonading on our left and front but no sign of an attack from Hood neither do I belive he intends to do so.” 
December 5: “Made a line of pickets (sharpened sticks stuck in the ground) and a line of brush work in our front twenty and fifty steps from the main line. Saw something of Gen. Steadman that I did not like. If he can manage an army he can not his own temper and he that governs his own temper so great than he that gaineth a victory.

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.

Great description by 100th Illinois solider (Lane’s Brigade) at Franklin, and artifacts

Pvt. – Sgt. Andrew W. Johnson
100 Illinois Infantry co. D. His Residence Plain field Illinois Enlisted 8/1/1862 as a Private. Promotions Sergt. He mustered out on 6/12/1865
Here`s some great information about Sgt. Johnson at the battle of Franklin Tennessee,
“We arrived at Franklin about noon, the enemy closely following us. Schofields corps were then behind a good line of works, our division was placed in line in front of them, and some slight works thrown up hurriedly. We could see Hood`s army marching over the hills, south of us. and watch them form their lines. Then commenced the battle, the enemy charging us in great force about four o`clock. We were compelled to leave the first line, falling back to the second line of works. and there the battle raged till almost nine p.m. The enemy charged the works five times, some of them being killed close on them. Gen. Clayborne and his horse fell right on our works. The fighting was terrific. We were now behind the works, and the enemy in the open field, almost the first battle in which the 100th had this advantage. There was a small grove of young locust trees just in front of part of our line,  every tree of which was cut off by bullets. The enemy withdrew having been repulsed each time. Clayborne`s division was nearly annihilated. Our list of casualties was again a sad one, for we lost one of the most valued of our remaining officers. Maj. Rodney S. Bowen was wounded in the thigh, and was placed in the last ambulance that started for Nashville, and died at that place three days after.  Michael Murphy our brave color sergeant, Co. C. was shot down while planting the colors in the face of the foe. and when Murphy fell, Andrew W. Johnson of co. D. sprang forward and snatched the colors and saved them from capture, for which he was made color sergeant.”
Source for excerpt and image:

7th Illinois Cav letter written the day of the Battle of Franklin

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…”

letter2

 

Notes:

  • Charles L. Dewey was from Mendota, Ill; he survived the war. A total of eight men with last named Dewey fought int he 7th ILL Cav; six in Company C, like Charles.
  • John R. Chapman, Co C., also survived the war.