The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30,1864, in Franklin, Tennessee, as part of the Franklin–Nashville Campaign of the American Civil War. It was one of the worst disasters of the war for the Confederate States Army, after its defeat against Maj. Gen. George H. Following his defeat in the Atlanta Campaign, Hood had hoped to lure Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman into battle by disrupting his supply line from Chattanooga to Atlanta. After a brief period in which he pursued Hood, Sherman decided instead to cut his main army off from these lines, shermans march left the aggressive Hood unoccupied, and his Army of Tennessee had several options in attacking Sherman or falling upon his rear lines. The task of defending Tennessee and the rearguard against Hood fell to Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, another 30,000 troops under Thomass command were in or moving toward Nashville. Hood spent the first three weeks of November quietly supplying the Army of Tennessee in northern Alabama in preparation for his offensive, with a series of fast marches that covered 70 miles in three days, Hood tried to maneuver between the two armies to destroy each in detail. On November 28, Thomas directed Schofield to begin preparations for a north to Franklin. Meanwhile, early on the morning of November 29, Hood sent Cheathams, now that Hood had outflanked him by noon on November 29, Schofields army was in critical danger. Both the Union infantry and supply train managed to pass Spring Hill unscathed by dawn on November 30 and that morning, Hood was surprised and furious to discover Schofields unexpected escape. After an angry conference with his commanders in which he blamed everyone but himself for the mistakes. Schofields advance guard arrived in Franklin at about 4,30 a. m. on November 30, Brig. Gen. Schofield decided to defend at Franklin with his back to the river because he had no pontoon bridges available that would enable his men to cross the river. The bridges had been left behind in his retreat from Columbia because they lacked wagons to transport them, Schofield needed time to repair the permanent bridges spanning the river—a burned wagon bridge and an intact railroad bridge. He ordered his engineers to rebuild the bridge and to lay planking over the undamaged railroad bridge to enable it to carry wagons. By the beginning of the assault, nearly all the wagons were across the Harpeth. By noon, the Union works were ready, the line formed an approximate semicircle around the town from northwest to southeast. The other half of the circle was the Harpeth River, counterclockwise from the northwest were the divisions of Kimball, Ruger, and Reilly. There was a gap in the line where the Columbia Pike entered the outskirts of the town, about 200 feet behind this gap, a 150-yard retrenchment line was constructed of dirt and rails, which was intended to be a barrier to traffic, not a full-fledged defensive earthwork. The actual earthworks in the portion of the line were formidable
Battle of Franklin, by Kurz and Allison (1891).
Kentucky-Northern Tennessee, 1864.
Southern Tennessee-Alabama, 1864.
View north from Hood's headquarters on Winstead Hill (engraving from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)