Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Battle of Franklin / Into the Twilight

Marker ID:  
Location: 1368 Eastern Flank Cir, Franklin, TN
County: Williamson
Coordinates: N 35° 54.342    W 086° 51.494
  35.9057    -86.85823333
Waymark: None


Battle of Franklin
Into the Twilight

Visibility was always a critical factor in Civil War battles. Officers and enlisted men needed clear lines of sight to know where to move, when to stay in place, and in which direction to shoot. At the Battle of Franklin, two important factors nearly eliminated the combatants’ ability to see: tranquil air and the approach of night.

November 30, 1864, was almost balmy here, with temperatures near 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees C) and with almost no wind. Desperate to break through the Federal lines straddling the Columbia Turnpike, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood sent his 20,000 men forward at 4 pm. It took his brigades more than twenty minutes to cross the valley floor, and sunset came at 4:30, just as his first wave struck the Union center.

The initial volleys enveloped the line in thick, billowing smoke, and visibility immediately fell to a few feet. Adding to the chaos, many of the Confederate officers were killed or wounded in the first thirty minutes of direct contact, leading to considerable confusion. The fight continued well into the darkness, until about 9:00, and produced almost 10,000 killed, wounded, missing, and captured—a rate of almost one every two seconds. Much of the combat was hand-to-hand, a relatively rare event in an age of rifled muskets and long-range artillery.

After the battle, many Confederate survivors were confused by their massive losses, believing that they were winning the contest until the very end. Union Gen. Jacob D. Cox suspected that his opponents did not realize how costly their frontal assault had become because they could not see clearly enough to realize the extent of the carnage.

Erected Tennessee Civil War Trails.

[This marker may also be found on HMDB.org]