“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Franklin in Williamson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Battle of Franklin

Into the Twilight

Battle of Franklin Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Stahl
1. Battle of Franklin Marker
Inscription. Visibility was always a critical factor in Civil War battles. Officers and enlisted men needed clear lines of sight to know where to move, when to stay in place, and in which direction to shoot. At the Battle of Franklin, two important factors nearly eliminated the combatants’ ability to see: tranquil air and the approach of night.

November 30, 1864, was almost balmy here, with temperatures near 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees C) and with almost no wind. Desperate to break through the Federal lines straddling the Columbia Turnpike, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood sent his 20,000 men forward at 4 pm. It took his brigades more than twenty minutes to cross the valley floor, and sunset came at 4:30, just as his first wave struck the Union center.

The initial volleys enveloped the line in thick, billowing smoke, and visibility immediately fell to a few feet. Adding to the chaos, many of the Confederate officers were killed or wounded in the first thirty minutes of direct contact, leading to considerable confusion. The fight continued well into the darkness, until about 9:00, and produced almost 10,000 killed, wounded, missing, and captured—a rate of almost one every two seconds. Much of the combat was hand-to-hand, a relatively rare event in an age of rifled muskets and long-range artillery.

Battle of Franklin Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Stahl
2. Battle of Franklin Marker
the battle, many Confederate survivors were confused by their massive losses, believing that they were winning the contest until the very end. Union Gen. Jacob D. Cox suspected that his opponents did not realize how costly their frontal assault had become because they could not see clearly enough to realize the extent of the carnage.
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 54.342′ N, 86° 51.494′ W. Marker is in Franklin, Tennessee, in Williamson County. Marker can be reached from Eastern Flank Circle 0.4 miles south of Lewsiburg Pike (Business U.S. 431), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located in Eastern Flank Battlefield Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1368 Eastern Flank Cir, Franklin TN 37064, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Battle of Franklin (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Standing at the Crossroads 1861 (about 300 feet away); Becoming the Front Line 1862
John Bell Hood image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
3. John Bell Hood
Gen. John Bell Hood may not have known that many of his troops were suffering from “night blindness,” which made their fight here at Franklin even more difficult. During the Civil War, some officers believed that the condition was a myth created by soldiers who wanted to avoid work after sunset. Today we know that the condition does occur, and it is caused by a lack of Vitamin A.
(about 300 feet away); A Crucial War Zone 1863 (about 300 feet away); The Final Campaign 1864 (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named The Battle of Franklin (about 300 feet away); Hood's Retreat (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Franklin.
Also see . . .  Eastern Flank Battlefield Park. (Submitted on May 25, 2017, by Brandon Stahl of Fairfax, Virginia.)
Categories. War, US Civil
Franklin Battlefield image. Click for full size.
Williamson County Archives
4. Franklin Battlefield
This postwar engraving of the Franklin battlefield from Winstead Hill shows the ground that the Army of Tennessee traversed during its attack on the Federal defenses. Soon after the battle began, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood lost sight of his troops. Thick clouds of gun smoke blocked his view, and nightfall gradually enveloped the whole field in darkness.
Jacob Cox image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
5. Jacob Cox
Jacob Dolson Cox (1828-1900) taught school and practiced law in Ohio both before and after the war. He led a brigade in the Western Virginia battles of 1861 and during the Antietam Campaign. At the battle of Franklin, he and his men played a key role in the Confederate defeat, and at Nashville he commanded the Union right flank. He served in North Carolina in 1865 and was elected governor of Ohio before the war ended. He later served as Secretary of the Interior in the Grant administration.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 26, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 25, 2017, by Brandon Stahl of Fairfax, Virginia. This page has been viewed 104 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 25, 2017, by Brandon Stahl of Fairfax, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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