Terrible, Terrible Franklin Itinerary

A 2019 BGES Day of History Program

December 8, 2019

The move was audacious and decisive–the resurgent Army of Tennessee had finally reentered the state of Tennessee with spirit and hope that they would redeem a part of their homes. A rapid march and aggressive planning had landed General Hood on the line of retreat for John Schofield XXIII, and David Stanley’s IV just had to push the march across and close the Columbia Pike and the Federals would be trapped. Then, on the morning of November 30, the opportunity had vanished. The pike had not been blocked, and by marching all night, Schofield’s men were entering fortifications outside the town of Franklin.

With the bridges over the Harpeth River out and the need to get wagons, artillery, and other supplies across before crossing the infantry, the combat soldiers filed back into the earthworks to await the summons to cross. Instead, in the midafternoon, Winstead Hill Hood’s legions appeared from behind. There would be a fight … there would be Franklin! Like Antietam and Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, this is a battle that must be examined time and again if we are to understand the Civil War in all its raw emotion and fury.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

8:15 AM. Meet in the parking lot at Winstead Hill. We will return there when the day ends. After setting the stage at the Winstead Hill overlook, we will actually start with the attack of W. W. Loring across the eastern flank at Carnton. This is a portion of the battle that gets little detailed attention, and we will spend the morning moving across the East Flank Park and along the Lewisburg Pike. Not all the resistance was enemy fire, and as we approach the Federal lines, we will see where the Federals had set an abatis of thorny Osage orange branches. After lunch, we will go back to the assault up the Columbia Pike, first hitting Wagner’s Division in its advanced and vulnerable position.

The highlight of the day will be as we advance toward the main Federal lines near the Carter Cotton Gin and house. Dramatic preservation efforts over the past five years have acquired significant acreage in the killing fields where the Confederates dashed up against the manned Federal fortifications and briefly breeched the lines, only to be hurled back. The interpretation now available and in the hundred yards in front of the earthworks will grip you, as Lee conveys the intensity of the action there that went on nearly four hours after dark. A visit to the Carter House and the other buildings on the property will give you a full appreciation of the scope of the destruction. With the battle concluded, we will head to Carnton Plantation, where we will see the grisly aftermath of the battle as we visit the plantation in its role as a hospital, morgue, and eventually cemetery. We will finish about 4 PM, in time for you to head on your way or return to your hotel before you depart the area. Thanks for coming.

About the Faculty

Lee White is an interpretative ranger at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. He has participated in two other BGES programs on Hood’s 1864 Tennessee Campaign. An active part of the “Emerging Civil War” cohort of new Civil War historians, he has written or co-authored several books including: Bushwacking on a Grand Scale, The Battle of Chickamauga and the newly released Let us Die Like Men, The Battle of Franklin.

Hotel Information

This one-day program does not require a hotel. Should you want a hotel, we usually stay at the Ramada Inn in Franklin.


The servicing airport is Nashville (BNA). There is limo service to and from the airport and Franklin.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a handout upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. Amazon.com has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

Stephen M. Hood: The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood
Eric Jacobson: For Cause & Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin
William Lee White: Let Us Die Like Men: The Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864

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Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Terrible, Terrible Franklin