Having marched eighteen miles in just over six hours to reach the Franklin community on the 30th, Cleburne’s Division was given an assignment by Hood to break through the strongly fortified Union center along the Pike. Granbury’s and Govan’s constituted the first line, Lowery’s a second, advancing in a double-line of battle; with no reserve at their rear. To save men’s lives, Cleburne initially advanced in a column of regiments, right in front, to protect them from a battery of long-range rifled guns that began to shell them at a distance of over a mile. Arrived in front of an advanced line of the same brigades they had fought the previous evening, they deployed “into line as if on a parade field,” overwhelming the Federals there and following them post-haste towards to the main works a quarter of a mile further. Unwilling to wait further in allowing their own men to get in, suddenly a stabbing sheet of flame erupted in the faces of the Texas and Arkansas soldiers. At the pike entrance into the village several of the Texas battalions broke through, but at a cost that literally destroyed they and their companions from Arkansas: Cleburne, Granbury, and every field officer of the Texas Brigade were either killed, wounded or captured; with only a single surviving Capt., Edward T. Broughton, Jr. (though himself wounded) taking command of the survivors.
On the following day, as the rest of the army moved towards Nashville, both Granbury’s and Govan’s had to be left at Franklin to be reorganized, some officers “having no men, and some companies having no officers!” I annually celebrate these two events, but especially this year for I’ve just completed Volume II of my treatise: “A Force to be Reckoned With: A History of Granbury’s Texas Infantry Brigade.” If interested, I encourage the reader to go out to www.dannysessums.com for further information. And my hearty thanks to all those that purchased the initial volume this past year!
On November 29, 1864, the once-vaunted Army of Tennessee made an entire day’s march to flank Maj. Gen. John Schofield’s two infantry corps, arriving around 4:00 P. M. in the vicinity of the small crossroads community of Spring Hill; just thirty-plus miles south of Nashville. Gen. John B. Hood believed he had the enemy within his grasp, and he actually did have them dead to right! But he let the opportunity escape in not remaining on-scene with his troops, instead of personally forcing the issue. In the ensuing action that transpired just at dusk, Maj. Gen. Pat Cleburne’s famous division made an assault upon two brigades of Federals, rolling up a goodly portion of Stanley’s 4th Corps, driving them back upon the turnpike. His third brigade, under Brig. Gen. Hiram B. Granbury, became separated in the dark and actually broached the turnpike further south than either Govan’s or Lowery’s Brigades.
Halted at the east side of the pike, these Texans had been fired into by a section of the Pennsylvania Reserve Light Artillery’s 12 pounders, supported by the 36th Illinois Infantry, driving both forces back onto their artillery park. That task completed, the brigade was halted, faced by the right flank and in a column of files, made a double-quick march of somewhat in excess of a half mile in an attempt to bolster the other two near the village. Discovering they were no longer required at the edge of town, Granbury then led them back southward, where they came under the same guns firing canister and shell almost the entire distance, this prompting one company officer to later write: “you can bet your ocean wave that we suffered [heavily] from that fire!” For the remainder of the night, the brigade lay in camp within 80 yards of the turnpike, watching as the better part of two enemy corps swept across their front. Granbury twice sought permission to move forward and seize the pike but was denied both times form higher-ups. Union soldiers would venture out to their campfires to light their pipes, only to be taken prisoner. As is so often stated these days: “The rest is history;” which is revealed for my November 30th post on this site.