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Stanley at Franklin

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  • Chris Huff
    Dear Folks, Not wishing to pick nits, but it s not 1:30 in the morning and I have Gen. Stanley s really cool report in front of me. Like I said before, it
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 4, 2000
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      Dear Folks,
      Not wishing to pick nits, but it's not 1:30 in the morning and I have Gen. Stanley's really cool report in front of me. Like I said before, it makes great reading because the guy writes so well. You almost feel like you are there with him. Anyhow, in his account  he says "Lane's and Conrad's brigades were deployed-the former on the right, the other on the left of the pike-about 300 yards in front of the main line. Here the men, as our men always do, threw up a barricade of rails. By whose mistake I cannot tell, it was certainly never a part of my instructions, but these brigades had orders from Gen. Wagner not to retire to the main line until forced to do so by the fighting of the enemy." Which orders they followed, apparently until they were practically crossing bayonets with the Confederates. It's interesting to note here that the seasoned fighters retreated while the new recruits were too afraid to run while being fired upon and so were captured. Then "Lane's men came back with loaded muskets and turning at the breastworks, they fired a volley into the pressing rebels now not ten steps from them." Wow! Brave stuff! Then "the First Kentucky and Sixth Ohio Batteries broke and ran to the rear with the fugitives from Conrad's brigade." Did I say the guy could write? Joy! Joy! I wish I could come up with stuff that good. He continues, "To add to the disorder the caissons of the two batteries galloped wildly to the rear, and the enemy appeared on the breast works and in possession of the two batteries, which they commenced to turn upon us"  The Confederates *captured* the guns! More brave stuff!
      Okay so he admits that this is when he showed up. He says, "...the moment was critical beyond any I have known in any battle-could the enemy hold that part of the line, he was nearer to our two bridges than the extremities of our line. Colonel Opdycke's brigade was lying down about 100 yards in rear of the works. I rode quickly to the left regiment and called to them to charge; at the same time I saw Colonel Opdycke near the center of his line urging his men forward. I gave the Colonel no order, as I saw him engaged in doing the very thing to save us, viz. to get possession of our line again." For the sake of brevity I'll leave out a bunch of his good stuff and just say that the Union regained part of their position with the Confederates occupying the position formerly held by the two brigades of the Second Division. It was just after the Union forces had regained their position that Stanley's horse was shot out from under him. He writes, "...no sooner had I regained my feet than I received a musket-ball through the back of my neck. My wound, however, did not prevent me keeping the field..." Okay, he says he was wounded but not bad enough to have to leave. "...and General Cox kindly furnished me a remount."
      He goes on to say that they had a whale of a time getting enough ammunition to continue fighting and said that one hundred wagon loads of ammunition, artillery and musket cartridges were expended. From there is was all down hill and they retreated in order except for one interesting little aside. "Some villain came very near frustrating this plan by firing a house n Franklin, the flames soon spread and the prospect was that a large fire would occur, which lighting up objects, would make it impossible to move the troops without being seen. My staff officers and General Woods found an old fire engine and getting it at work, the flames were soon subdued and the darkness was found to be increased by the smoke." What do you know? Yankees *putting out fires*! Don't shoot- just kidding.
      Whew! What a ride! That's pretty exciting stuff! It does look like Gen. Hood may have come pretty close to getting what he wanted. Jefferson Davis even mentioned that had he succeeded it might have been the turning point of the war. So maybe Hood wasn't as crazy as he seemed. Maybe he was just up against a foe as determined as he was. Brave folks on both sides.
      Chris Huff
      Atlanta, GA
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