Foster’s Map of the Franklin battlefield

On November 30, 1864, under the command of General John Bell Hood, the Confederate Army of Tennessee attacked Union troops just south of the small town of Franklin, Tennessee. Union General John Schofield, having passed by the Confederate troops in the dark of night, was attempting to unite his forces with Union forces positioned in Nashville. The process of moving troops and supplies was slowed in Franklin due to the destruction of the county bridge over the Harpeth River. Recognizing this delay could give Confederate forces an opportunity to attack, Schofield directed his troops to dig earthworks and fortify a strong defensive position along a hill on the southern edge of Franklin. This hill was known as Carter Hill and at its apex was the Carter House.

Hood was disappointed that Union forces slipped away, but he recognized that the Union troops had no quick way to cross the Harpeth River. A full frontal assault was launched against the fortified Union position. The attack was sent forward despite Hood’s troops (including the bulk of his artillery) not fully arriving on the field. The rebels charged and suffered horrific losses. Despite significant casualties, portions of the Union earthworks were taken near the Carter House. Confederate troops outnumbered Union troops and this break in the Union Lines was a strategic advantage that could have changed the outcome of the battle except for a counterattack from General Emerson Opdycke that pushed the Confederates back once more and decided the day.

In only five hours, some 1,750 Confederate soldiers and another 200 Union soldiers were killed. There were a total of nearly 9,000 casualties including those killed, wounded or captured, which earned the Battle of Franklin the distinction of the bloodiest five hours of the Civil War. The costs for the Confederate Army were felt beyond just the loss of soldiers. Six confederate generals were killed, another five were wounded, and one was captured. This loss of leadership was pivotal in the sound defeat of the Confederate Army at the Battle of Nashville some two weeks later and effectively ended the western theater of the Civil War.

The story of the Battle of Franklin is both horrible and fascinating. But it has not been without significant preservation efforts that the Carter House and the Franklin Battlefield have been saved from the pressures of adjacent development. More recently, significant sites have even been purchased and structures have been removed to restore the battlefield. The charge of this master plan is to continue these efforts, to direct future reclamation of the Battlefield from development pressures, and to create a plan to tell the stories of the battle that occurred at Carter Hill and of the people that lived in the simple home that became a crucial Civil War battlefield.

Text credit: Carter House Master Plan (n.d.): p. 4

New Google Map of Fort Granger

Fort Granger is a large, mostly intact earthenworks Civil War fort just north of downtown Franklin, above Pinkerton Park. It sits on roughly twelve acres. Fort Granger was constructed by Federal soldiers, and some contraband labor, in the late winter and early spring of 1863. It took about ten weeks to complete.

I recently created a Google Map version of Fort Granger. It is loaded with all kinds of information to help you learn more about the fort, including access to original soldier’s letters and accounts.

To learn more about Fort Granger via an interactive Google Map, visit this site.

Earl Van Dorn tested the fort as it was being constructed in April 1863 and Nathan Bedford Forest attempted to take the fort in June 1864. Two Confederate spies were hung outside the fort in June 1863 too.

I have been leading tours of Fort Granger for ten years. If you would like to walk around the fort facility and learn who built it, why it was built, how it was built, how it was used, then contact me for a tour. Fort Granger tours (typically 75 minutes) are $35 per person, group rates available.

The landscape shapes the battlefield

This map of the battlefield (on an interpretative marker on the Eastern Flank) is very helpful for one to orient oneself to the Battle of Franklin. There is so much to appreciate from studying this map. Here are a list of questions any good student of the Battle of Franklin would know, or at least want to know. The map below can answer each question.

  1. How far east-west was the Confederate Army spread out while positioned at Winstead Hill?
  2. Once the CSA Army got to the main Union earthworks, centered at the Cotton Gin, how far east-west was the army spread out then?  Why is this important?
  3. What are the three main arteries the CSA Army traversed to get to ground zero (i.e., the Carter grounds)?
  4. What were the primary obstacles (i.e., man-made and natural) that the Union Army used to defend itself?
  5. What were the ‘high spots’ (natural and man-made) that both sides attempted to leverage?
  6. How far was Fort Granger and her guns from the McGavock farm? From the CSA Army as it approached the Union defensive main line?
  7. How does the landscape and important items noted impact the chances of a successful cavalry flanking maneuver by Forrest?
  8. How and why was the Harpeth River an important advantage to the Union Army?

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Granger gun range.pngBoth images from interpretative markers on the Eastern Flank

Rare Battle of Franklin map sold at auction

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

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Franklin preservationists will celebrate a major victory on Wednesday at 2:30 pm

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.

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This Google map below shows the strip mall area in relation to the original troop placements.

This Google map is accessible at www.FranklinBattlefield.com

This Google map is accessible at http://www.FranklinBattlefield.com