Thursday, May 13, 2010


The National Tribune. (Washington, D.C.) 1877-1917, March 10, 1887, Image 3

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Persistent link:



What Our Veterans Have to Say About Their Old Campaigns


Desperate Fighting At and Near the Cotton-Gin.

A letter of inquiry from Comrade S. R. Maynard, 42d Ill., leads me to write something of that part of the battle of Franklin in the immediate vicinity of the cotton-gin, east of the Columbia pike. The Third Division, Twenty-third Corps, occupied the line east of the pike, with Gen. Reilly's First Brigade holding the line from the pike east to a short distance east of the cotton-gin; then Henderson's Third Brigade to the Lewisburg pike; then Casement's Second Brigade to the Harpeth River. A slight elevation a few rods south of the cotton-gin formed at once the most advanced and the highest point on the line, and was justly regarded as the key to the Union position. At this point Bradley's (6th Ohio Ind'p't) battery of six brass field-pieces occupied a line around the knoll, and along the spaces between the guns were the six companies forming the center and left of the 104th Ohio. West of this the four right companies of the 104th and 100th Ohio, and either the 8th Tenn., or 16th Ky., the other lying at the feet of the men on the line in support; and the 12th Ky., armed with Remington seven-shooters, in support of the 104th and the battery. Perhaps a fourth of a mile in our front was a light force from the Fourth Corps, with our skirmish-line a little in advance on the left.

The ground in our front for more than a mile was open and we were enabled to see every move of the rebels as, emerging from the woods, they filed off east and west and formed six solid lines of battle and advanced to the attack, forming the


we ever witnessed. What came near being the fatal blunder of the day was our force stationed in front holding on so long that when they did start for our line the rebels were at their heels. We received orders not to fire a shot till our men had got safe behind the works. The few who came in through the left of the 104th Ohio and 112th Ill., who joined us on the left, arrived before the Johnnies, so as the foremost rebel line, under Gen. Adams, reached the foot of the breastwork, they were met by such a murderous fire from the battery and the rifles of the 104th and 112th, that in less time than it takes to write it the brave Adams and nearly his entire right wing were swept into eternity.

Then for a solid half hour every man on the line was engaged loading and firing as fast as he could handle his gun, and the batterymen loading with three or four canisters at a load, all sending their death-dealing missiles into the surging, desperate mass of rebels in front, who fell "like grass before the scythe" under that withering fire. Further to the right, when our front line had gained the works, the rebels were swarming over. Orders were given for Wagner's men to fall back and form in the rear. This order was mistaken by some of our officers and the whole line from the battery to the pike, including the 8th Tenn., 100th and part of the 104th Ohio,


and fall back; seeing which Gens. Cox and Reilly and their Aids rushed to the front. Promptly came the orders from Reilly, "Fix bayonets! Charge!" and before the second rebel line reached the works our boys had retaken them. During the next terrible half hour they vied with their brothers on the left in doing terrible execution among the rebels swarming in their front.
When our boys recaptured their works they "gobbled" 900 of the enemy, mostly from Adams's Brigade, and including the 16th Ala. almost entire. At dusk, after the broken rebel columns had withdrawn to the westward, a volunteer skirmish-line was formed in Reilly's Brigade which advanced to the bottom of the slope to look after the dead and wounded of our advance-line. I was one of these, and I make no exaggeration when I say that for 60 rods in front of the 104lh Ohio and 6th Ohio battery the ground was literally covered with human bodies. It was with great difficulty we could move about without trampling them under foot. I was a witness of the terrible work of Benjamin's battery and the 79th N.Y. at Fort Sanders, where the ground was soaked with rebel gore; and I was over the ground where Leggett's men "piled the ground with rebel slain " before Atlanta ; yet neither of them bore any comparison to the ground in front of the 100th, 104th and 112th Ill. and Bradley's 6th Ohio battery at Franklin, where


their bodies, legs and arms crossed and tangled in inextricable confusion. Here lay more than 4,000 dead and dying heroes, the flower of the rebel army. Next day, when we entered Nashville, we carried as trophies of the contest 22 rebel battle flags, of which the 104th Ohio had captured 11 and the 100th Ohio five.

There have been many claims made as to who saved the day at Franklin. Some claim that to Gen. J. S. Casement belongs that honor; others claim it for Col. Emerson Opdycke and his "Tigers." I doubt not each and all did what came to their hands as soldiers good and true. But I claim had not the men of Reilly's Brigade so promptly retaken their works and stood like a living wall of fire before the desperate rebel host during that terrible half hour, the day would not have been worth saving. From the description of the man and attending circumstances I surmise that the officer on horseback, noticed by Comrade Maynard, must have been Col. Hayes, of the 100th Ohio. I hope to hear from some members of the Second Division, Twenty-third Corps, or of Opdycke's men, or Kimball's Division on the right, or of Henderson's or Casement's Brigades, and still others of Reilly’s men, as to the part taken by them in saving the day at Franklin.

Nelson A. Pinney, Co. D, 104th Ohio, Windham, O.

No comments:

Post a Comment