cguy.gif 01110008.jpg uguy.gif
May 2000
R.Danny Witt, President               John M.Coski, editor
5500 Ashton Park Way                      1201 E.Clay St.
Glen Allen, VA 23059                   Richmond, VA 23219

May 2000 PROGRAM
Thomas Cartwright

"The Battles of Spring Hill and Franklin, Tennessee"

8:00 p.m., Tuesdav, April 9, 2000
Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard
(corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.)
Enter basement door from Boulevard side.

Thomas Cartwright is historian and  manager  at  the  Carter
House  in  Franklin,  Tennessee.   The  mansion  is the most
famous landmark on the battlefield  of  Franklin  where,  on
November   30,  1864,  the  Confederate  Army  of  Tennessee
suffered one of its most disastrous defeats.   According  to
tradition,  the bodies of six Confederate generals killed in
the battle, including that of  Patrick  R.   Cleburne,  were
laid  out on the front porch of the Carter mansion after the

Although Franklin is  associated  with  Confederate  defeat,
that  battle  and  the  battle of Spring Hill a week earlier
presented opportunities for Confederate  victory  in  Middle
Tennessee.   Mr.  Cartwright will recount the events of this
pivotal and decisive campaign.                              

Mr.  Cartwright is also known for his impersonation of  Cpl.
Sam Watkins, the colorful author of Co Aytch: A Side Show of
the Big Show.  Watkins and his regiment, the  1st  Tennessee
Infantry,  participated  in  the  battles of Spring Hill and
Franklin.  Perhaps we will hear something of Cpl.  Watkins's

4/11/00 Meeting 4/11/00 Meeting

Review of March Program
by Sam Craghead

When Union prisoner of war Sgt.  J.  Osborne Coburn died  in
March  1864,  a hospital steward wrote to Coburn's father to
recount the late soldier's last days.  Coburn,  the  steward
wrote,  was  "a man of more than ordinary intelligence." The
story narrated by our April speaker, Don  Allison,  revealed
not  only  that  Coburn was an intelligent man, but a man of
great emotion as well.  His diary entries, sometimes written
in the form of letters or thoughts to his wife, Eva, suggest
that Coburn had a great will  to  live,  but  also  that  he
reasonably expected to die on Belle Isle.                   

A  young attorney before the war, Coburn enlisted in Company
I, 6th Michigan Cavalry in the fall of 1862.  He served  for
a  year  on the relatively quiet Potomac River front, coping
with the effects of  Col.   John  Mosby's  guerrilla  raids.
Coburn  became  a  prisoner  when  Gen.   John  D.   Imboden
captured him and more than 400 members of the Charles  Town,
[West]  Virginia,  garrison on October 18, 1863.  Imprisoned
first in Smith's warehouse in Richmond, Coburn lost  to  his
guards  most  of  the  money he had managed to save.  On the
night of November 2-3, 1863, Coburn was transferred to Belle

In  his  diary,  Coburn  described  how  he  and  the  other
prisoners suffered from the cold, the lack of  shelter,  and
the  extreme  overcrowding.   He  recounted the ingenuity he
used to obtain extra  rations  and  other  privileges.   And
while  Coburn  complained  of  the notoriously weak soup, he
also noted that the rations on  Belle  Isle  were  at  times
tolerable.   With similar balance, Mr.  Allison noted in his
presentation that the suffering of the Belle Isle  prisoners
owed  in part to the conscious decision of U.S.  authorities
to not exchange prisoners (because the Federal armies  could
compensate  for  the  loss of manpower) and that Confederate
guards also suffered from poor rations.                     

As the unseasonably cold  winter  wore  on,  Coburn's  diary
filled up and his morale dipped.  On February 4, 1864 Coburn
wrote: "hereafter I shall not try to keep a daily record  of
events  as  this book is nearly full and I don't know how to
keep another.  Suffice it to say here that general prospects
of our release do not increase except as time passing brings
us nearer to an end -perhaps our own in time." A month later
Coburn died of chronic diarrhea in Hospital # 21 at 25th and
Cary streets.  The hospital steward  wrote  Coburn's  family
about  his  last days.  The journal somehow found its way to
the midwest, and a transcript of it was published in an Ohio

Mr.   Allison and his wife Diane have placed a marker in the
Seven Pines National Cemetery, where Sgt.  Coburn is buried.
Mr.   Allison is continuing work on a co-authored history of
the 38th Ohio  Infantry.   He  is  contemplating  writing  a
history of Belle Isle.                                      


An Unpublished Account of the Battles of Spring Hill
and Franklin

Capt.  George  A.   Williams  to  Capt.   Irving  A.   Buck,
December  14,  1864, near Franklin, Tennessee [excerpts from
12-page  letter  courtesy  of  Eleanor   S.    Brockenbrough
Library, The Museum of the Confederacy]                     

Note: Williams was assistant adjutant general for  Brig.   Gen.   Daniel
Govan;  Capt.   Irving  A.   Buck  was  AAG  to  Maj.   Gen.  Patrick R.
Cleburne.  Buck had been wounded at the  battle  of  Jonesboro  and  was
absent from the army.                                                   

Let me tell you of our doings since I  last  wrote you.  We
marched from Florence on the 21" ult.  in snow, cold, and
wind, moving by Waynesboro  &  Mt.  Pleasant to Columbia,
where we arrived on the 26".  We found the place  occupied
by  the  enemy,  and invested  it  on the  south  side.
The  Yankees evacuated on the night of the 27", but remained
on the  opposite  bank  of Duck  River,  whence they shelled
the town.  At daylight on the  morning  of the  29"  we
crossed 4 mi[les]s above and marched for their rear, Forrest
proceeding us.  We reached the  neighborhood  of Spring
Hill  late  in  the evening & found the Yankees there in
force.   Our Div.,  being  first  was  at once  formed,  &
we attacked,  driving  the  enemy from   his   rail
barricades at the first onset.  Gen.  Cleburne had his
horse, Red Pepper, wounded in three places.  It was  an
easy-going  thing.   We could now see the Yankees in the
village, & they continued to shell us, to which we could not
reply, having brought no artillery in consequence of our
rapid movement.  We waited  for  Bate  &  Brown  (Cheatham)
to move in conjunction with us, but the former  did  not
get into position  until night and the latter finding the
enemy overlapping he did  not  advance.   Thus was   lost
the   golden  opportunity.   When  we attacked, a part of
the enemy was yet at Columbia, and we had them completely
cut off, while we could easily have beaten those in our
front.   But  they retired  under  cover of night...
The next morning we started off in pursuit  in  high  glee,
little  thinking  what serious work we would have yet that
day...  Three miles from  Franklin we  came  to  a
high ridge from which we could see the enemy's rear moving
into their  lines,  which extended  far & blue all around
the town...  We began advancing about... hour before
sunset,  by the  night  of regiments to the front... The
enemy's artillery opened upon us at a mile's distance.  The
ground  over which we advanced was perfectly open; not a
tree, a fence or a stump to stop a bullet...
Immediately  we were into the heaviest and
deadliest fire I have ever witnessed...   Gen.  Hood had
notified  the  troops  that  to  carry Franklin would open
to them Nashville &  Kentucky.  He  was somewhat piqued that
we failed to take the place...
Every  one  expected  the  deadly conflict  to  be
renewed at dawn.  But light found the enemy gone.  It was
an  unfortunate  affair.  Night  prevented  a success  which
day would most probably have seen accomplished, and after
having dealt  us  a  heavy blow the enemy retired without
being injured to the same  extent,  &  he  is  now ensconced
in   his works  at  Nashville.                             

Gens Cleburne, Granberry & Strahl were  buried  at Columbia.
My  dear Pat, I sympathize with you in the loss of your
chief, in addition to  my  sorrow for the death of so good &
noted a leader.  I know you will be grieved to lose so good
a friend;  him with   whom you  have  served  so  long  to
his satisfaction, and who was perhaps more attached to
yourself   than   any other  with  whom  he  had
intercourse.  On the morning of his death he  rode with  us,
was in high spirits, & spoke of several members of his
staff, of you especially  in  high terms,  of  your
coolness  on the  field  & your general  efficiency...  He
was admitted   the   best division  commander  in  the Army
& had made an enviable and  deserved reputation.   He  will
be sadly  missed,  and  by none I think more than by

Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter
John M. Coski, editor
1201 E. Clay St.
Richmond, Virginia  23219

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