Monday, November 30, 2009

Guibor's Missiouri Battery in the Battle of Franklin

A quick posting for the Battle of Franklin, TN, fought 145 years ago today as the sun set. Much of the story fo the battle focuses on the fighting around the Carter House and the death of Major General Patrick Cleburne and the five other Generals killed. One of the most neglected and indeed forgotten roles of the battle is that of the few artillerists who went into action, the following is an account of one of them, Pvt. Samuel Dunlap of Guibor's Battery:

"...about 4 O.C. PM. our troops were quickly formed in three lines of
battle - & as some of our artillery had not yet arrived from Columbia - our
battery was divided in sections with the corps - one going to the right &
the one of which I was a member remaining in the center. Our section was ordered
to go out in front of the advance line & commence firing. We were soon in
position - guns loaded, & at the command fire! sent two shells screaming
through the air in the direction of the fortified little city.

This was a signal for our men to prepare for a charge all around the lines
- & a deafening roar of artillery - attended with the bursting of shells
& whizzing of minnies - from the enemies guns, was heard in return. Our
pieces fired as rapidly as possible & until our first line of battle passed
- then limbering up - fell in their rear to join in the charge. This was the
first & only instance during the war in which we were ordered to charge as
artillery - but Hood's intention on this occasion was to take everything by
storm - & had he been sucessful - when a good position for artillery had
been reached - we would have been ready to plant our guns. Our advance exteneded
down an open field, over a small ravine & railroad - up an inclined plain in
full view of the enemy. Our horses had become almost wild with excitement -
rearing & pitching to free themselves from their drivers - & escape the
'hailstorm' of shot & shell, that was tearing up the ground around them.

In crossing the railroad, one of the wheel tugs of my gun broke which
necessitated a short halt. While I was assisting the wheel driver to mend it - a
minnie ball from the enemies gun, hit my canteen, mashing one side into the
other - I was excited! & did not feel the jar. My companion hearing the
sharp crack - asked - Sam didn't that strike you? I said no. & was not aware
of what a protector it had been until sometime afterward...We had moved but a
few paces from where the breakage occured - when this same wheel driver was hit
on top of the head with a fragment of shell & fell forward between his
horses - lodging upon the bridle reins & end of pole. He was born from the
field & place filled by one of the cannoniers. We succeeded in driving the
enemy from their first & second line of works but our first line of battle
becoming so decimated by the continous hail of shell, grape, canister &
minnies into their ranks - had to be filled up by the second & third. Not
being able to obtain a position, from which we could do execution, without
endangering the lives of our own men - the battery was halted at the first line
of works - but our infantry kept steadily on - on! until their enemy was driven
behind the last line of entrenchments. We were told to remain in place, subject
to orders - & I assure you the continual riar of shot, shell & the sight
of our comrads falling around us - made our position anything but a pleasant
one. To be a silent & helpless spectator, when death in all its horridness,
is hovering over you - listen to the cries of the wounded & dying as they
are being 'Carted' off the field - requires greater nerve - than to face the
cannons mouth in heat of battle.

Our Infantry after reaching the last line of entrenchments - met with such
stubborn & overwhelming resistance, & failing to rout their adversaries,
dripping down in the outer ditch, where they kept up firing at each other across
the works - by elevating the breech of their rifles, with one hand - at the same
time crouching as low to the earth as possible, to avoid exposing their bodies.
Some of our infantry told me after the battle - the Feds threw shovels &
picks over the works at them, & were hurled back from whence they came, with
as much force as possible.

The outer ditch was filled with our men sweltering in their own blood while
the inner one in like manner was filled with the enemies dead & wounded.
Some time after dark our company moved back a short distance, & at 9 O.C. PM
firing ceased all around the lines, except occasional sharpshooting..."

1 comment:

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