Archive for Battle of Franklin

Pvt. William H. Earhart

Posted in Franklin with tags , , , , on May 28, 2015 by 40thindiana

william h_ earhart

William H. Earhart enlisted into the 40th Indiana Regiment on October 25, 1864 at Wabash, Tippecanoe County, Indiana The new member of Company C was born on August 31, 1845, Venango, County, Pennsylvania. There were many recruits and draftees being gathered during this time period as veteran regiments were trying to fill their depleted ranks after suffering heavy losses of killed and wounded during the Atlanta Campaign. In the “History of the 57th Indiana Vols.,”  it  is recorded that there were large amounts of new recruits arriving in November, 1864. The new men, including Pvt. Earhart, were not going to have much ‘break in time.’ William would be thrown into his first action around Spring Hill, Tennessee, as the  army was racing to Nashville ahead of a perusing  Army of Tennessee.

After escaping Spring Hill, the Federal Army stopped at Franklin, Tennessee and started building breastworks in order to slow the Confederate pursuit. General Wagner’s men were place forward of the main works acting as skirmishers, there was little cover in this location. On November 30, 1864, massive lines of Confederate infantry unfolded before the eyes of Wagner’s men. To this day it is not fully understood why Wagner, a man with a solid battlefield reputation, did not bring his men into the main works. This would be the downfall of Wagner. Never the less, one can only wonder what was going through the mind of William Earhart and the rest of the recruits. As the Confederates approached, Wager’s men tried to make a stand and were soon overwhelmed by a Confederate attack larger than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The veteran troops as well as the new recruits soon broke and ran for the main line of their works, with Confederates in close pursuit. There were many men killed and captured during the flight, the stragglers also had to avoid friendly fire as regiments in the works started firing, trying to stem the gray tide that was coming. William did make it into the works, and would be fighting in the works well into the night. After the fighting ended, there was no time for rest , the army was immediately on the march seeking security in Nashville.

After making it safely to Nashville, William would have some time to reflect on the nightmare he had just lived through. On December 15-16, 1864, the Federal Army under General George H. Thomas, would leave their works and attack the remnants of the Confederate Army encircled  around Nashville. The battle of Nashville would be William’s third major combat during his first two months of service. After defeating General John B. Hood’s Confederate at Nashville, the Union Army pursued the routed Confederates into Alabama. The major fighting was over in this theater of the war, but not William’s service. He would go into Texas with the regiment, because there was still work to be done. William Earhart  Mustered out of the 40th Indiana on October 24, 1865. He had seen a lot during one year of service and probably felt lucky to be alive. He returned to his life in Indiana after the war.  Private William H. Earhart died on October 6, 1937, Markle, Huntington, County, Indiana.

Scott Busenbark

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Major Leaming Letter; Battles of Franklin and Nashville

Posted in Franklin, Regimental History with tags , , on March 20, 2012 by 40thindiana

Source: “The Soldier of Indiana In The War For The Union Vol. 2″; Author Catharine Merrill; Published Merrill and Company 1889. pp 764-766

“Huntsville, Alabama, Fortieth Regiment, January 9, 1865”

“You will readily pardon my long silence when you remember that since the last of October we have, save the short time spent at Pulaski, been constantly on the go. Besides it is but poor business writing letters when you are living in the open air, without shelter of any kind, in the winter at that, with the ground for a seat, and your knee for a desk, while your eyes have become fountains of tears, as the smoke from burning fence rails compels them to the outward show of grief for the destruction worked. Now, however, we have been in that Potomacian condition known as ‘winter quarters,’ for several days, (about three,) and having built a chimney to my tent, which has arrived, much to my satisfaction, from the hearth of said chimney is dispensed a genial glow, which, despite the warning winds and dashing rain, almost convinces one that he is enjoying ‘comfort.’  ‘Tis true the ground on which my feet rest, is wet and cold, and occasional droppings here and there remind me at best, tents are leaky things, and not over warm, (except in the summer time,) but in that spirt of cheerful philosophy which urges one to be thankful, not that things are so well as they are, but that they are no worse, I accept the situation, and shall undertake, by most vigorous efforts of the imagination, to persuade myself that there might be something more miserable than ‘comfortable winter quarters,’ and therefore be most thankful that the unknown possibility had not fallen to our lot. As usual my good fortune did not desert me, and I came out of all  the fights without any holes through my flesh. I had a horse killed under me as quick as lightning could have done it, and a ball cut a strap from my saddle , directly in my front, not two inches from where it would have hurt me, if it had hit, making the farther digestion of hard-tack and fat pork impossible.”

” By the way, Hood was terribly thrashed in those same battles, but there can be no doubt that the greatest battle was that of Franklin. There his army was ruined. When we came back over the ground, we could see by the graves the fearful destruction of our fire. I met no prisoners of any rank who did not agree that their repulse there was most unexpected and disastrous. They largely outnumbered us, and our works were very hastily put up, and not finished when the attack was commenced; yet their loss was numerous, and their repulse complete. We fought three corps with three of our divisions. Our regiment captured a battle flag, the man who took it running the bearer of it through the body with his bayonet.”

” At Nashville, where we outnumbered the Rebels, and they had the advantage of position and defences, we took them squarely out of their works, and completely routed them. ‘Tis true they used but little artillery at Franklin, and we an enormous ammount at Nashville, still it was not in the killed or wounded by cannon shots, or in their moral effects that the difference lay, but in the growing conviction in rebellious minds, that they are now paying for a very dead horse, and that a life as an individual concern is a rather big price to pay. Sixteen general officers  and any quanity of smaller fry were killed or wounded at Franklin. It is well known that generals do not expose themselves usually on either side, save in some desperate emergency. General Adams was killed right on our breastwork, and so were some others. Do you not see how difficult it must have been to bring the men to the scratch, when it became necessary to urge them forward by the generals themselves leading them? When we assaulted their works at Nashville, and began to go over them, I never saw more abject terror than among those we captured. It was real, genuine fright. ‘ What would we do with them!’ ‘Would anybody hurt them!’ ‘Do give me a guard,’ &c, &c, they were constantly saying – in fact a badly thrashed set of rascals.”

” The country is now full of deserters. Hood and his army, who were to go to the Ohio river , are completely played out, and quiet reigns in Tennessee. Thus it happens that we go into winter quarters. The men are now busy as bees, cutting and hewing logs for their huts. Soon the men will settle down to daily drills and the consumption of rations, and the officers to the recception of orders to do or leave undone this, that and everything under Heaven that somebody else can think of when having nothing else to do but to devise and issue orders. Reports, returns, tri-weekly, tri-monthly, monthly, weekly, daily and hourly, are called for, and the grand aggregate carefully filed away at Washington, never more to be seen by eye of man. The paper wasted on all these things would each day freight a large ship, and Satan himself would yeild to despair at the task of making head or tail of them. The idea is beginning to force itself upon me that, as it is after eleven o’clock at night, I had better stop writing, and go to bed, ‘To sleep – perchance to dream’ of home, and wife, and chicks, and then to wake homesick beyond expression. Ehen!”

” The war is playing out fast. There can be no doubt of that now. Sherman and Grant will prove to heavy for Lee; and the Rebel plan of arming ‘niggers’ will only give us so many more of that sort of soldiers. ‘Tis folley in them, but so was the Rebellion an insane piece of folly. ‘Deus vult perdere prius dementat'”

“Henry Leaming”