Battle of Franklin


Despite warnings from other generals, Hood marched his men after Union troops who had slipped by him in the night. Five hours of fierce, bloody hand-to-hand fighting among the earthworks took a disastrous toll on the Confederates.

Following the evacuation of Atlanta, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood formed an elaborate plan to draw Gen. William T. Sherman away from that city and place his own army in position to recapture Middle Tennessee. Hood planned to march north, capture the vital Union supply depot of Nashville, and take the war into Kentucky and Ohio.

Initially Hood's plan worked. Sherman withdrew from Atlanta and followed the Army of Tennessee into North Georgia. There, Sherman realized the numerical superiority of his forces and appointed Gen. John Schofield to lead a detachment of his army to stay ahead of Hood's advance north, while he returned with the main force to implement his March to the Sea.

On November 29, 1864, the Army of Tennessee managed to get between Schofield's command and the federal stronghold at Nashville at the town of Spring Hill. When Confederate forces failed to cut the road north, the Union troops marched by in the middle of the night. By morning, they had entered Franklin and occupied a series of earthen fortifications on the southern edge of town.

When Hood awoke on November 30 and found that the Union army had escaped, he immediately marched the Army of Tennessee to Franklin. Arriving at Winstead Hill, Hood determined to fight, despite warnings from his generals to avoid a frontal assault.

The Confederates made as many as 18 separate charges but failed to breach the Union defenses. After five hours of bloodletting, the Confederates had incurred 7,000 casualties from a force of 23,000, and the Union had lost 2,500 of their 15,000 troops.

The battle exacted a disastrous toll on the Confederate forces. Of the 100 Confederate regimental commanders, 63 were killed or wounded. The casualty toll among Confederate generals was also high: six killed, five wounded, and one captured. At the battle of Nashville, two weeks later, the Army of Tennessee was not effective, having left a sizable number of hardened veterans and officers on the field of Franklin.

  • Called "the five bloodiest hours of the Civil War."
  • Generals Cleburne and Cheatham both warned Hood against a direct assault on the Union position.
  • Five Confederate generals were killed, six wounded, one captured.