This Week in the American Civil War: November 30 – December 6, 1864

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday November 30, 1864

BATTLE OF FRANKLIN

Leading units of the retreating Federals of Major General John Schofield’s force under Major General Jacob D. Cox arrived at Franklin, Tennessee, about dawn. They formed a defensive line south of the town and the Harpeth River. Schofield wished to hold Franklin until he could repair the bridges and get his trains across. Stung by the lost opportunity at Spring Hill, Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood moved rapidly towards Franklin on the main pike. A skirmish at Thompson’s Station, south of town, and other Federal delaying moves slowed the Confederate advance.

About 4 p.m., Hood, from Winstead Hill, ordered a massive frontal attack against the entrenched Federals on the southern edge of Franklin. The Confederates pressed ahead, carrying the forward works of the enemy, though suffering heavily in the process. After a near break which caused a 200-yard gap in the lines, the Federals rallied on the interior lines. Some of the bloodiest and most tragic fighting of the entire Civil War occurred in front of the Carter House as the battle lasted into the night. Schofield’s troops held and Hood’s force was driven back.

The Confederates lost six generals – Patrick Cleburne, States Rights Gist, H.B. Granbury, John Adams, O.F. Strahl were all killed outright and John C. Carter was mortally wounded. With more than 20,000 troops engaged, the Confederate losses amounted to 1,750 killed, 3,800 wounded and 702 missing for a loss of 6,252. Schofield engaged approximately 25,000 troops and lost 189 killed, 1,033 wounded and 1,104 missing for an aggregate total of 2,326.

During the night, Schofield pulled his battered units across the Harpeth River and headed north to Nashville to meet up with Major General George H. Thomas and receive reinforcements.

Thursday December 1, 1864

The Federal troops of Major General John M. Schofield had successfully withdrawn from Franklin, Tennessee and were now taking their places in the Nashville defense lines of Major General George H. Thomas. The Federals formed a rough semi-circle south of the city with both flanks resting on the Cumberland River. Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s weary Army of Tennessee moved upon Nashville with little pause to take care of the casualties or reorganize after the fateful toll extracted at Franklin the previous day.

A little more than halfway between Atlanta and Savannah, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army faced little difficulty as they approached Millen, Georgia, the site of a prison camp for Northern soldiers. Rumors abounded that the Federals were heading towards Andersonville, far to the south, to free the prisoners there.

In Washington, James Speed of Kentucky was appointed Attorney General by President Abraham Lincoln, succeeding Edward Bates who had resigned.

Friday December 2, 1864

Advance units of Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee approached the Federal lines at Nashville, Tennessee, and then established their own lines south of the city.

Federal Major General Granville Dodge was named to replace Major General William Rosecrans as commander of the Department of Missouri. Rosecrans long had experienced difficulty with the various divided political forces in Missouri and had proved inept in the administration of his command.      

Saturday December 3, 1864

With both sides dug in at Nashville, that front was at a standstill, though Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant and Federal officials in Washington were urging Major General George H. Thomas to attack.

All of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s corps in Georgia began to march toward Savannah. As they neared the coast, the country grew more sandy and then tended to marshes and creeks. The soldiers lived off the country and their destruction of property continued. Resistance was light.

In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln worked on his annual message to Congress and discussed the possibility with key advisors about naming Salmon P. Chase as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sunday December 4, 1864

     Skirmishing occurred at Waynesborough, Statesborough, Lumpkin’s Station, at the Little Ogeechee River, all in Georgia, and at Station No. 5 on the Georgia Central Railroad. Other skirmishes were fought at White’s Station and Bell’s Mills, Tennessee; on the New Texas Road near Morganza, Louisiana; near Davenport Church, Virginia; and Federals fought Indians on Cow Creek near Fort Zarah, Kansas.

Monday December 5, 1864

At Nashville, Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood sent Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry and a division of infantry towards Murfreesboro.

Minor skirmishing occurred at the Little Ogeechee River and at Dalton, both in Georgia.

The Congress of the United States gathered for the second session of the 38th Congress.

Tuesday December 6, 1864

Former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase was named Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, succeeding the deceased Roger B. Taney. Although President Abraham Lincoln had difficulties with Chase during his Cabinet years, the President placed Chase at the head of the list for the Supreme Court vacancy since Taney’s death.

Following the custom of the day, President Lincoln submitted his annual message to Congress, where it was read to the highly interested members, for all were aware of the momentous questions of war and reconstruction facing the Union.

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant issued new orders to Major General George H. Thomas at Nashville in which Thomas was to attack Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood “at once.”

Skirmishing occurred at Bell’s Mills, Tennessee; Lewisburg, Arkansas; and Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of November 30 – December 6, 1864 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865. 

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” until December 10, 1864.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” until December 10, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On provost duty at St. Louis, Missouri until January 29, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Siege of Murfreesboro, Tennessee until December 12, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – Organized at St. Paul and Rochester until February 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Participated in Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” until December 10, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty as infantry at Fort Irwin, Defenses of Chattanooga until March 30, 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I – Attached to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry at Petersburg, Virginia until Feb. 20, 1865. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg until Feb. 20, 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive.

About civilwarweek

Member - Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, Civil War reenactor and historian since 1993, holds Bachelor's Degree in History from Concordia University-St. Paul, currently pursuing Master's Degree in History at St. Cloud State University and is author of the forthcoming book, "Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man's Journey through the Civil War."
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