Timeline for the Battle of Franklin

and important events preceding it
Last updated June 2011 (under construction)

Major events related to the summer of 1864 Atlanta Campaign July 17, 1864 – General John Bell Hood takes over command of the Army of Tennessee, CSA July 20th Peachtree Creek – Union victory, Hood loses 4,800 men. July 22nd Atlanta – Union victory, Hood loses 8,500 men. July 28th Ezra Church – Union victory, Hood loses 3,000 men. August 5th – 7th Utoy Creek – inconclusive, Hood loses 300 men. August 14th – 15th Dalton – Union victory, unknown casualties August 20th Lovejoy’s Station – CSA victory, Hood loses 240 men. August 31st to Sept 1st Jonesborough - – Union victory, Hood loses 3,000 men In Hood’s first six weeks as Commander of the Army of Tennessee, he loses about 20,000 men, 70% of those in the first week! September 2nd – Atlanta surrenders

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

Hood’s Middle Tennessee Campaign October 1864 Oct 16th – Nov 16th Forrest raids West Tennessee Oct 26th – 29th Hood enters Decatur, AL November 1864 Nov 15th – Sherman beings his march to the Sea (which will end on Dec 21 in Savannah.) Nov 21st Hood moves into Florence, Alabama. Nov 23rd Action near Mount Pleasant. Nov 24th – 29th Hood is in Columbia, TN. Small CSA victory. Hood’s Army is 5,000 men, Schofield’s (U.S.) at 28,000. Nov 29th Hood is in Spring Hill. Union victory, Hood loses 500 men. Nov 29th Affair at Thompsons Station. Nov 30th Battle of Franklin. Union victory. Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee attacks Schofield’s entrenched troops near downtown Franklin resulting in a lopsided Union victory. There are nearly 10,000 total casualties. Hood loses 1,750 killed, 3,800 wounded, and at least 700 missing or captured.

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

1864 Battle of Franklin Timeline
November 29th Around midnight, Union army escapes from Spring Hill and marches to Franklin. Hood is unaware that the “bird has flown the coup”. November 30th 1:00 a.m. Thomas telegraphs Schofield, ordered to protect his wagon train and to get to Franklin. 4:30 a.m. Union Division Commander Jacob D. Cox’s men start erecting defensive breastworks around town. Schofield arrives in Franklin between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. Cox tells Carter family he believes that a fight is not likely today. 5:30 a.m. Schofield wires Thomas he is trying to get some of his men across the Harpeth. Some Union troops cross over the Big Harpeth and install themselves at Fort Granger. Schofield discovers the two main bridges are out, starts to rebuild them so his army can keep heading toward Nashville. 6:30 a.m. Ruger’s Federal troops arrive on the scene around downtown. 7:00 a.m. The big guns of the 23rd Corps (Federal) arrive and are moved north of the river. 8:00 a.m. Confederate Cavalrymen engage the rear elements of Union wagon train (Opdycke’s men) in a full-blown skirmish. Est 8:30 a.m. An angry Hood meets with his senior leadership at Rippavilla and discloses his plans to chase Schofield into Franklin.

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

9:50 a.m. Schofield telegraphs Thomas that Hood cannot be held at Franklin. Schofield’s headquarters is in Dr. Daniel Cliffe’s home. 10:25 a.m. Without receiving Schofield’s 9:50 a.m. wire yet, Thomas wires Schofield with instructions to hold Hood if possible but not to risk too much. Est. 10:30 a.m. Federal 4th Corps artillery begins to arrive in Franklin. 11:00 a.m. As CSA cavalry continue to harass Federal rear elements, Wagner’s forward Federal troops “began cresting the pike as it passed between Winstead and Breezy Hills.” Whitaker’s men from Kimball’s Division spar with Rebels for about an hour in Winstead Hill vicinity.

12:00 noon. Schofield telegraphs Thomas, responding to wire of 10:25, fearful he is getting in a tight place with Hood at Franklin. Federal defensive line is largely completed. Many of the Federals sit down to eat. Temperature is approaching 50 degrees, an unusually warm Fall day. Three brigades of Wagner’s Division begin to pull away from Breezy Hill. An 11:30 a.m. telegraph, delivered a little after noon, from Stanley to Wagner orders Wagner to hold the heights. 1 p.m. Hood arrives at Winstead Hill with Genls. Cheatham and Cleburne, two miles from downtown Franklin, and reconnoiters the Federal position near downtown Franklin. Federal troops abandon Winstead Hill just moments before Hood arrives.

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

Opdycke and his men are the first to see two Rebel corps approaching Winstead Hill. Rebel army passes William Harrison house, just south of Winstead and Breezy Hills. 1:30 p.m. Wagner and his men begin to make their way toward the line at Franklin. [This is a confusing fact to me that EJ makes.] About 1:30 p.m. Hood decides “we will make the fight.” 2:00 p.m. First of Cheatham’s CSA troops arrive at Breezy and Winstead Hills. About 2:00 p.m., Hood calls a conference with his commanders at the Harrison House. Attending are Hood, Cheatham, Forrest, and Cleburne. These commanders are not in agreement for the assault. Forrest wants permission to outflank the Federals but he is denied. Hood’s decision is to drive the Federals “into the river at all hazards.” 2:15 p.m. (est.) Wagner arrives at Carter house to report to Gen. Cox. 2:30 p.m. Wagner leaves the Carter house and learns his men are about to be swallowed up by Rebel forces. Est 2:45 p.m. Rebel infantry and elements of Forrest’s cavalry troops begin to cross Hughes’ Ford 2 ½ miles SE of Franklin. 3:00 p.m. Schofield telegraphs Thomas, Hood has a large force aggregating at Winstead Hill. Tells Thomas that he cannot hold Hood for an additional three days. Wagner arrives on scene in Federal forward advance line and meets with Conrad.
Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

Lee’s Corps (CSA) are still on the way to Franklin en route from Spring Hill. They will not reach Franklin in time to be engaged in the action. Rebel forces take nearly a full hour to deploy. 3:05 p.m. Schofield notifies Wilson that a 4th Corps brigade will be sent to assist the repulse of the Rebels at Hughes’ Ford. 3:30 p.m. Wagner heads back to main Federal line. 4 p.m. Just prior to the assault, Cleburne reflects to a concerned colleague, “Well Govan, if we are to die, let us die like men.” Assault begins!! Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee begins their mass assault across nearly two miles of open fields, heading north toward the main Federal line. Rebel bands are playing. Entire Rebel army [27,000 effectives] stretches out east-west about two miles in front of Franklin.

4:15 p.m. (Estimated) Hood’s CSA forces clash with the southern-most advanced Federal line made up of the Union Divisions of Conrad and Lane, quickly driving the Federals back north toward the main line.

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

First Federal troops to be engaged are Lane and Conrad’s men. The Rebels fire at them after clearing Privet Knob area. 1st Ohio Light Battery opens up on Rebs as CSA sharpshooters take aim on the Federals. Ohio gunners fire but quickly retreat to Franklin, leaving Federal infantry bewildered. CSA troops closest to Columbia Pike reach vicinity of Privet Knob. Troops march pass Merrill House nearby. Hood moves off of Winstead Hill and makes headquarters at Widow Neely’s home, near present-day Chic-Fil-A on Columbia Pike. 4:34 p.m. Sunset. With Hood’s Confederates in chase, chaos ensues as the retreating Federals (Lane and Conrad) race back to the main Federal line, causing their own men on the main line in front of the Carter grounds to withhold fire on the Rebels for fear of friendly-fire casualties. Estimated. Stewart’s Corps (CSA) marches past Carnton Plantation, soon coming in range of the guns of Granger. His Corps is badly mangled and squeezed by terrain and a poorly executed deployment plan. Many men become confused. Hundreds will die. Many of Stewart’s men will cross what today is known as the Eastern Flank portion of the battlefield. 4:30 – 5:00 p.m. Clashes between the Federal and Rebel armies begin to unfold on every major part of the battlefield. Multiple desperate charges are made by the Rebels on three main sections of the field, (1) near and in front of the Carter House, (2) centered around the Cotton Gin just east of
Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

the pike, and (3) on the far left Union flank, involving Stiles’ brigade, near the railroad tracks. Likely between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m., - just after sunset - the Union center was pierced and nearly fully compromised by the Rebels. 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. The worst fighting at Franklin probably took place in the dark between 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. The devil took full possession of the earth. The Rebels made 12-16 charges altogether and lost over 20 stands of colors. Confederates nearly broke through the line around the Carter House but reserves from Opdycke’s Tigers plugged the gap. The fighting was fierce and perhaps most-intense around the Carter House grounds and the Cotton Gin. Both sides were reduced to hand-tohand fighting using pick axes, the butt of their guns, knives, biting, clawing, surrendering their actions to the most primal instincts of human aggression. In the few hours during the hottest fighting, the dead are piled up in large numbers as the Rebels make charge after charge against protected Yankee breastworks. They lay dead in piles of 4-5 deep in some areas. Most of the dead are Confederates.

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net

The Confederates lost thirteen field generals as casualties, five were killed outright. Fifty-five regimental commanders were casualties. Sixty-eight field officers became casualties too. About 5:30 p.m. (estimate) Confederate General Patrick R. Cleburne is killed in action near the Cotton Gin. A small park today commemorates the approximate place where he fell. Captain Tod Carter (CSA), was shot numerous times, and mortally wounded, probably no more than 150 yards southwest of his own home. His body was discovered the next morning and his body was carried to his home where he was placed in his own bed. He died there on December 2nd. 7:10 p.m. Schofield telegraphs Thomas telling of a heavy and persistent attack by the enemy (Hood), stating remarkably close casualty estimates for Hood already in the 5,000 – 6,000 range. 7:30 p.m. (estimated). Thomas telegraphs Schofield: “Your telegram is just received. It is glorious news, and I congratulate you and the brave men of your command. But you must look out that the enemy does not still persist. “ 11 p.m. Schofield’s Union troops begin evacuating Franklin, heading north toward Nashville via the Columbia Pike.

Timeline of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) , Kraig McNutt | BattleofFranklin.net