Cockrell’s Missourians at Franklin suffered horrific casualties

BG Francis M. Cockrell

Brigadier-General Francis M. Cockrell led a brigade under Samuel G. French at Franklin. It was all-Missouri brigade: 1st-4th (Garland), 2nd-6th (Flournoy, Carter), 3rd-5th (Canniff), and 1st-3rd MO Cav dismounted (Gates). Of these, Garland and Canniff were killed, Carter and Gates were wounded. Cockrell himself was lucky, he had two horses shot out from under him and was wounded in the right arm, left leg, and right ankle.  Garland was shot while carrying the 1st Missouri flag. Canniff was within ten yards of the line when he was shot.

Cockrell’s men assaulted the Federal line just east of the cotton gin. Jacobson says it is likely that Cockrell’s Missourian’s were the first Confederate’s to hit the Federal line. They would have been warmly greeted by the 65th Indiana Infantry (Casement).

“The Federals obliterated the Missouri ranks, and a Confederate captain said the air “was all red and blue flames, with shells and bullets screeching everywhere…” The barrage was so intense that some of the Missourians actually turned their shoulders into the firestorm and bent down at the knees in the hope of getting through.” [Citation: Jacobson, Eric A.. For Cause and Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill & the Battle of Franklin (Kindle Locations 5978-5980)]

Map excerpt from Eric Jacobson’s For Cause and For Country.

Years after the war Cockrell said the following about Franklin, “When I got these wounds I was at the front line right in the midst of the fight. I tried my right leg, and when I found out i couldn’t walk on it, I hobbled off the field. It was not until the surgeon was working on my right ankle that I found I had been wounded in my left leg.” [Citation: The Civil War Times, December 2017: p. 55]

After the war, Cockrell said this of his brigade at Franklin. “I lost two-thirds [at Franklin] having had every fourth man killed dead, or mortally wounded, and since died. This was by far the fiercest and bloodiest and hottest battle I have ever been in. My Brigade acted more handsomely, defiantly and recklessly than on any field of the war; and you know what it required to eclipse all former conduct on so many bloody fields.”

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Marker located at Winstead Hill Park in Franklin

“They march quietly, and boldly, and steadily through the broken and fleeing ranks of at least twice their own number, and no man wavered – all to the stop, with colors six paces in front, just like a drill, and never brought their guns from a ‘right shoulder shift’ until within thirty or forty yards of the enemy’s works. and then fired by order, and hurled themselves against the works. It was grand and terrible in the extreme.Almost all were killed and wounded very near the works, or in the ditches of the works. I have no language to paint the scene.” [Citation: The Civil War Times, December 2017: p. 55-56.]

Historian Gottshalk (In Deadly Earnest) says that Cockrell had 696 men who went into the fight at Franklin and they suffered 419 total casualties.

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The Missouri section at McGavock

Here are the known/identified Missourian’s from Cockrell’s brigade buried at McGavock Confederate Cemetery:

Garland: 1st MO – 8 and 4th MO – 6 for a total of 14 men
Flournoy, Carter:  2nd MO -13 and 6th MO – 7 for a total of 20 men
Canniff: 3rd MO – 15 and 5th MO 11 for a total of 26 men
Gates: 1st MO Cav dis – 10 and 3rd MO Cav dis – 11 for a total of 21 men

Of these 114 total Confederate known-dead at McGavock, Cockrell’s Missourian’s accounted for 81 of the 114.

[Citation: The McGavock Confederate Cemetery (2017): p. 187.]

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For further reading:


Tags: Battle of Franklin | Francis M. Cockrell | Missouri | Indiana | 65th Indiana Infantry | John Casement | Cotton gin | 1st Missouri Infantry | CSA | McGavock Confederate Cemetery | Ed Bearss

McGavock Confederate Cemetery Annual Memorial Service coming June 3rd

One of my highlights every year is to attend the annual McGavock Confederate Cemetery Memorial Service, hosted by the United Daughter’s of the Confederacy, Franklin Chapter #14,  at Carnton.  Boy Scout Troop #137 will install a Confederate flag next to each of the 1,500 markers in the cemetery. The Boy Scouts have been doing this for 30+ years according to John Green, Commander.

The event kicks off at 2pm, rain or shine. There is always a guest speaker, Confederate re-enactors, and a babgpipe presentation.

Here is a link to last year’s service with a photo gallery.

Franklin soldiers’ early markers were likely wooden

I’ve blogged many times about the McGavock Confederate Cemtery. I’ve taken thousands of pictures over the years too.  I wish I could have walked the rows of McGavock in 1866 to see what the cemetery looked like. No doubt, there were many wooden markers – like the Nix marker from Stone’s River – with the names of the soldiers scribbled for posterity.

Today, about half of the Confederates buried at McGavock are forever unknown to the ages. Certainly not forgotten, but sadly unknown. There were 225 soldiers placed in an Unknown section. Not even their ‘State identity’ is even known.

Another 333 unknowns are spread out in respective State sections throughout the cemetery, their State identity known, but not their names. So, of the total of 1,481 Confederate soldiers buried here, 780 are identified positively. Another 143 graves have some sort of identification, genuine or otherwise.

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.