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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

What One Private Observed Entering the Town of Franklin

by Gordon Thorsby

Ferguson’s Artillery was advancing toward Nashville but it was constantly in a state of “catch up" as the Army of Tennessee pursued Schofield’s army. It arrived in the middle of the night near the town of Spring Hill and was ready the next morning for action. Unfortunately, Schofield was gone. It loaded up and moved that morning but the broken down horses and mules were simply slow (Confederate artillery was reduced to using mules because horses were in such poor condition.) The artillery company arrived near the field at Franklin at dark when most of the fighting was over. Private Byron Bowers of the company recounted what he saw when he decided to take a walk toward the now peaceful field beyond:


"From what I had heard… the slaughter was great and at the dawn of day I hit the pike road to go and see for myself. I had gone but a few hundred yards when I came to a dead Federal picket. He was a little round-faced boy, shot in the thigh and bled to death. He had corded his thigh with his own suspender. As I went on up the pike the dead pickets lay thick…I walked …on about fifty to one hundred yards (continued inspecting the field) I never had seen Confederate carnage so thick…Standing at the gap in the breast works, where the turnpike road passed through, I think there must have been two thousand dead Confederates in sight.


The dead, cold, and stiff bodies were laying in every conceivable posture, all with ghastly faces and glassy eyes. Some lay with faces up and some with faces down. Some in a sitting attitude, braced with the dead bodies of their comrades. Some lay with two or three bodies on them. Sometimes you could see a company commander lying with sword in one hand and hat in the other. Sometimes you could se a man who had a heavy martial frown; then again you could see others who wore a pleasing smile…


At a gap in the works where the pike road went through…were lying a Confederate and Federal soldier, both with bayonets sent through their bodies. It was plain to see that they were each others’ victims; they both had hands on their guns. Close by a Georgia colonel and a Federal major lay, their positions indicating that they had slain each other with pistols…


Then I passed through the gap and looked down (the pike into town) another scene of carnage came to view…Streets, gutters, sideway, doorstones and porticoes were covered with dead men in blue.”


Twenty-five year old Byron Bowers enlisted in the 24th Georgia Infantry on Aug 24, 1861 and attached to the Battery 19 April, 1863. He survived the war.



Sources:


Ferguson’s SC Artillery Company, Rucker, Christopher D., Farm Lake Press, 2020, p94.


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