AUG

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Scaling the works at Franklin 1.jpg

Scaling the works at Franklin 2.jpg

- The Confederate Veteran, Vol. 11, p. 274.

I posted this elsewhere before but thought it would be a good addition to the Soldier's Tales forum.

Col. Elijah Gates' regiment was the consolidated 1st & 3rd Missouri Cavalry (dismounted) in Cockrell's Missouri Brigade, both of which were absolutely decimated in the battle of Franklin.

Gates' regiment lost 35 killed, 33 wounded, 22 wounded and captured, as well as 44 others taken prisoner, for a total loss of 134 officers and men - more than 60% of the regiment's strength. Col. Gates went into the charge mounted and was shot through both arms; he was eventually carried to the rear and one of his arms was amputated.

Cockrell's Missouri Brigade only carried 696 officers and men into action and lost 419 killed, wounded and captured, or 60.2%. 63 of the 82 officers in the brigade were casualties, including Brig. Gen. Francis M. Cockrell who had two horses shot from under him and was wounded four times. 130 Missourians are buried in the McGavock Confederate Cemetery at Franklin, almost all of which are from the Missouri Brigade; 31 others are said to be buried elsewhere.
 

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AUG

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1st Lt. Charles B. Cleveland, adjutant in the 1st & 3rd MO Cav., wrote about carrying Col. Elijah Gates to the rear after he was wounded:

"Our men made a gallant charge, led by Colonel Gates and Major Parker, right up to the breastworks. Colonel Gates was on his horse riding up and down the line and cheering his men on when he was shot in one arm, and in a few minutes he was shot in the other arm. As he was unable to guide his horse, being his adjutant I went to his assistance and led his horse off the field to a place of safety, and helped Colonel Gates to dismount, with the assistance of General Forrest, the great cavalry commander, who happened to pass by, and after an appeal to soldiers who were there for help, with only one response, and that from a poor wounded private who was too badly hurt to do any good.

"I then went for an ambulance, but the bullets were flying so thick the drivers refused to go. I finally persuaded one to let me have his team and started back, but before going fifty yards one of the horses was killed. I took Colonel Gates's horse and, with the help of the driver, who got ashamed of himself, got the harness off the dead horse and on to the Colonel's horse. Then we got Colonel Gates into the ambulance and took him to the hospital, where his left arm was amputated. I left Colonel Gates, on his request, to go back to the lines and look after the men. I found this a difficult and dangerous undertaking, as the fire of the enemy was very heavy. My horse had been killed under me and I was afoot. I found our command terribly cut up, eleven officers killed, seven wounded, and only three able for duty; the men reduced to less than a hundred, one hundred and seventeen being killed and wounded."

- The Confederate Veteran, Vol. 31, pp. 19-20.​

Despite having his arm amputated, Col. Gates later returned to his regiment, was at the Siege of Fort Blakely in April 1865 and was taken prisoner along with most of his men when the fort fell to a Federal assault on April 9.

Here's a postwar photo of Elijah Gates:
Colonel Elijah Gates.jpg
 

AUG

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#4
I'll give this a Bump for the anniversary of the battle.

Franklin battlefield.jpg

The ground that they charged over, looking south from the Cotton Gin.

Cotton Gin.jpg

Carter Cotton Gin from the Columbia Pike.
 

AUG

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A few other accounts from the Missouri Brigade at Franklin....

S. C. Trigg, 3rd & 5th Missouri Infantry:

"I was a member of Company C, 3d Missouri Infantry, Cockrell's Brigade. When we arrived on the hill in sight of Franklin on the Columbia Pike, we were filed to the right and halted in a skirt of woods and ordered to rest at will. The brigade remained in this position only a few moments, when it was ordered into line for an advancement. About this time Col. Elijah Gates rode up and called our attention to two lines of infantry in front of us, at the same time saying: 'Boys, look in your front; we won't get a smell.' When we saw this, we too thought we would have a walkover.

"Seeing the nice, smooth field between us and the enemy's works, the writer with many others called on the Colonel for music and for a brigade drill. To this he readily consented and so ordered. As soon as we started the band began to play, and continued until the enemy's batteries began to rake our lines. One man was killed (Taliaferro) and one wounded (G. A. Ewing, of my company) before the music ceased. When we were near the works, the first line or advance column, which had been repulsed, met us and passed back through our lines. I did not inquire and never learned to what command the retreating troops belonged.

"The 1st Missouri continued its charge till we reached the obstruction of brush in front of the enemy's works, where we found Texans, Arkansans, Tennesseeans. We all worked together making gaps through this obstruction. Near these gaps were piled the dead in heaps of four and five, some from all the above-mentioned States. The writer helped to arrange and bury our dead the next morning. We buried one hundred and nineteen of our men in one grave near the pike, between the cotton gin and pike where we did our fighting. There were only three commissioned officers left in our brigade, one major, two lieutenants, and about one hundred men for duty.

"The writer was at Carthage, Springfield, and Lexington, Mo.; Elkhorn Tavern, Ark.; Iuka, Corinth, Port Gibson, Baker's Creek, Big Black, and the siege of Vicksburg, Miss.; in front of Sherman from Rome, Ga., to Lovejoy Station, Ga.; in rear of Sherman, battle of Allatoona Mountains, Franklin; then to Mobile and Blakely, Ala., where we surrendered April 9, 1865. In all the above-mentioned battles and sieges I never experienced anything equal to the battle of Franklin."
(Confederate Veteran, Vol. 19, p. 32)​



Capt. James Synnamon, 2nd & 6th Missouri Infantry:

"I was with General Stuart [Alexander P. Stewart's Corps] in the battle of Franklin and was in the last charge, about sundown, when Stuart and Cheatham attempted to take the works from which our troops had been repulsed. It seemed to me that the air was all red and blue flames, with shells and bullets screeching and howling everywhere, over and through us, as we rushed across the cotton fields strewn with fallen men. Wounded and dying men lay all about in ghastly piles, and when we reached the works at the old cotton gin gatepost only two or three of my companions were with me. They went into the ditch, but I was tumbled over by a Yankee bullet and was dragged over and laid a prisoner by the old ginhouse. That night I was put into an ambulance and taken to Nashville and placed in a hospital, where I, with other prisoners, was kept on a diet of bread and water in retaliation for what was claimed to be Confederate cruelties practiced on Federal officers at Charleston."
(CV, Vol. 12, p. 582)​


Excerpt from a letter by Brig. Gen. Francis M. Cockrell to a friend, published in the Atlanta Intelligencer, April 5, 1865:

"Since I saw you last, I have gone thro’ a regular flint mill. My noble brigade has been almost obliterated. At Allatoona, Ga., I lost one-third of the number taken into the fight, and at Franklin, Tenn., I lost two-thirds 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. 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 [step?], 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. We hear that Colonel [Elijah P.] Gates has escaped the enemy, and is now somewhere in our lines. I hope it is true. He is the noblest and best soldier I ever saw.

"I had a rough time getting out of Tennessee, but would have ventured almost anything before falling into Yankee hands. I rejoined my brigade at West Point, Miss., January 20, 1865, just sixty days from the day I was wounded. I have been on crutches up to March 4, 1865. Laid them aside on that day to take an even start with Old Abe for the coming four years. I am in for that time, and four more if necessary forever if required. We arrived in Mobile February 4th and since then I have commanded French’s division.

"I am not well yet. My right leg is still not well. I have six pieces of bone which have worked out, and I think more pieces will yet work out."​
 

TomV71

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#6
Nice thread!
I cant remember what brigade at the moment, it might have been Govans, but I once read that when they charged across that field, the brigade band started playing "The Bonnie Blue Flag" as they crossed the field.
Must have been quite a scene to observe.
 

AUG

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Nice thread!
I cant remember what brigade at the moment, it might have been Govans, but I once read that when they charged across that field, the brigade band started playing "The Bonnie Blue Flag" as they crossed the field.
Must have been quite a scene to observe.
That was the Missouri Brigade's brass band that played as the assault stepped off.

Capt. Joseph Boyce, 1st & 4th Missouri Infantry, says in his memoirs:

"Our brigade had one of the best brass bands in the army. It went up with us, starting off with 'The Bonnie Blue Flag,' changing to 'Dixie' as we reached the deadly point. As it was an unusual thing for the 'tooters' to go up in a charge with the 'shooters,' I give the names of the veterans composing this band. Every one had carried his musket in the ranks for two years and through many battles, and I believe all of them would have instantly exchanged their instruments for muskets if ordered to remain in the rear. They were: Prof. John O'Neil (leader), John and Chris O'Neil, James and Thad Doyle, Charles Ketchum, Samuel Lyon, James Young, Shelby Jones, James Roboinet, and Simeon Phillips."​
 

AUG

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I won't post Boyce's entire account because it's quite long, but I've always liked this excerpt:

"While we were in line of battle [forming for the charge] some one in the company, impressed with the scene, quoted Nelson's famous order at Trafalgar: 'England expects every man to do his duty.' Sergt. Denny Callahan took it up at once, saying: 'It's little duty England would get out of this Irish crowd.' Nearly all the company and regiment were composed of Irishmen or their descendants. The laugh Denny raised on this was long and hearty. They were noble fellows, indeed, laughing in the face of death. Four years of war hardens men, and yet there were few in the command over twenty-two years of age."
The 1st Missouri Infantry mainly being recruited from St. Louis, there were naturally many Irish immigrants in the regiment. Boyce later wrote:

"The distance we marched from our position where we first formed line of battle to the enemy's works was, I remember, about nine hundred yards. In that space our flag fell three times. Joseph T. Donavan, ensign, of St. Louis, was the first to fall, badly hurt by a fragment of shell. Two other members of the regiment, John S. Harris and Robert Bently, were killed a few moments later while carrying it. Sergt. Denny Callahan was the last bearer, and this brave Irish boy carried it successfully to the works, where he planted it, and was wounded and captured, the flag falling into the hands of the Federals when we were forced from the position."

Company A of the 3rd & 5th Missouri was also made up of Irishmen, mainly from St. Louis and formerly Col. Joe Kelly's regiment in the State Guard. Throughout most of the war it was commanded by Capt. Patrick Canniff, acting commander of the regiment at Franklin, who was said to have been one of the best officers in the brigade. After surviving so many battles, Franklin was the last one for him and most of his men that were left in the company. Boyce says:

"Then the death of Capt. Patrick Canniff, commanding the 5th Missouri, caused us great grief. He was also a model soldier. After passing through so many battles, he was killed when needed most. He was wounded near the works and was too badly hurt to crawl away to a place of safety and received his death wound later on. Also among the killed were Lieut. William A. Crow, [Walter] Marnell, and Thomas Hogan, all from St. Louis."

In his diary, Lt. George A. Warren of Canniff's company wrote:

"When daybreak did come, and the fog and smoke of battle was lifted like a curtain, such a spectacle as this field of death presented to our eyes, I hope I may never witness again. Here, indeed, was a Carnival of Death. There must have been three thousand stiffened corpses lying in this little space, in full view. There may have been many more, I am sure there were no less. In many places, they were in heaps, the ditch around the works, in some places, was filled with dead. Numbers lay where they fell, on top and on the sides of the embankment, and a few were found inside the works, shot and bayoneted.

"I found poor Caniff and Wat Marnell; the former close up to the breastworks, the dead body of his horse being near by. Marnell had fallen midway between the lines and must have been killed instantly, for the flush of excitement was still on his face, and he looked as natural as he did in life. . . . Capt. Caniff was knocked from his horse by a shot in the right shoulder, and it must have been while lying on the ground, that he was struck in the top of the head, the ball coming out under the chin.

"My heart bled when I first stood over the rigid form of Lieutenant Crow; he was a kind, true friend and a perfect gentleman, as gentle and modest as a woman, and yet as brave as the bravest."​
 
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