The Battle of Franklin
The battle of Franklin took place beginning on November 30th and was to be a sound defeat for Hood’s Army of Tennessee. It would see no less than 6 generals killed on the battlefield and would result in some 6000 rebel troops killed or wounded. Fortunately for General Forrest’s cavalry forces which, at this point, included Ross’s Brigade as part of Jackson’s division, the bloodbath was to be spared.
A separate engagement took place involving Ross’s cavalry brigade. This battle took place near Fort Granger. Some four thousand Federal Cavalrymen under the command of General Wilson were drawn up to attack. The engagement stated a 300 p.m. The Texas old adversaries, Brownlow’s White Horse Regiment was soon to begin the fight. As they began their attack General Ross stood up in his saddle and said to his men, " Boys, if you don’t run, they will!" He then set the 3rd Texas in a charge toward the enemy. The fighting was close quarters hand to hand, saber to saber, pistol to pistol at point blank range. By nightfall, Forrest, seeing the ammunition running low ordered the engagement to cease for the evening and they withdrew back.
On December 2, 1864 General Hood was positioned his battered army in front of Nashville, Tennessee. He was facing a far superior force and his supply lines were stretched all the way back to Alabama. Hood had trapped himself. He could not go forward and could not go backward. In the midst of this, General Hood dispatched is cavalry command, under Forrest, to harass Mufreesboro so 35 miles to the Southeast. In the annals of warfare no one will argue the folly of this but as strange as it was for Hood to do it, he let some 6, 500 of his force go with Forrest. In shire folly and stupidity Hood split his out-numbered forces, in the dead of winter, to attack another superior force.
General Forrest proceed as ordered and finding the Union forces at Mufreesboro too strong to attack he proceeded to only harass them on the 6th and 7th of December. There was a brief engagement involving Ross’s brigade and the 3rd Texas near a fortress were an enemy advance was checked as it left one of the fortresses. Unfortunately, the Yankee General in charge was able to take some 197 Rebels prisoner.
Four the next five days operations around Murfreesboro were frost bound by a blizzard and left middle Tennessee covered with ice. On December 14, Forrest Cavalry, including Ross’s brigade hit a train and was successful. They were able to plunder the supplies 60 thousand rations that included bushels of sugar, coffee, slabs of bacon, and hundreds of much needed overcoats.
Unfortunately, the end of the Army of Tennessee was soon at hand. On December 15th,Union General Thomas attacked Hood and within twenty-four hours had routed the Army and sent them in defeat toward Franklin, totally disorganized. General Forrest was summoned back but too late to do any good.
Forrest united with Hood on December 18, 1864. He had only 1,850 men left. Of these were Ross’s Texas Brigade and the 3rd Texas Cavalry. Many of Forrest command were without shoes. Forrest’s cavalry was to be the rear guard as Hood’s army retreated. Ross’s Texas Brigade was part of this rear guard and found itself in three bloody engagements as they covered the retreat over some 80 miles. The retreat continued and finally on the 28th of December the tattered remains of the Army of Tennessee reach some safety as they got into Tennessee. The Union army thought it could cut Hood’s army off but later admitted that Forrest’s undaunted and firm defense of the retreat did its work and saves the last of the retreating forces of General Hood.