Monday, November 30, 2009

Battle of Franklin - Then and Now

On this date in 1864, the Battle of Franklin took place in Franklin, Tennessee. The battle was a decisive victory for the Union army, and paved the way for Sherman's March to the Sea. Like so many Civil War battles, severe blunders were made by the generals. In this case, Confederate General John Bell Hood allowed the Yankees to pass his army in the middle of the night, where they managed to establish themselves in breastworks that were essentially impenetrable by the Rebels. Many Confederate soldiers met their deaths as they marched on the fortifications, which would become known as "Pickett's Charge of the West." Six Confederate generals were killed. The Rebels lost over 6,000 casualties; the Union lost a little over 2,000. This was due in part to the Union army's advantage in using repeating rifles.

Recently, the battle was revisited when construction crews unearthed the remains of a soldier last spring. In appropriate military style, the remains were laid to rest with full honors, including a three-volley salute, and many participants attended in period clothing. A crowd of around 3,000 observed the funeral procession and ceremony. Although the soldier's affiliation is unclear, several U.S. eagle buttons and a spent bullet were found at the grave site. The casket was draped with flags from both the United States and the Confederate States.

Two special attendees were also on hand. One was 91-year-old Harold Becker from Michigan. His father fought for the Union side at the Battle of Franklin, and according to Becker, only had good things to say about the Rebels he fought, admiring their bravery. The other was James Brown Sr. from Tennessee, who represented the Confederate side as a Real Son. He talked about how his father rarely discussed his experiences, except for the suffering that the Confederates had to endure. When the two met, they immediately embraced before delving into discussion about their ancestors. The two gentlemen were given special seating at the funeral, and escorted the horse-drawn buggy to the cemetery.

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