Tuesday, April 12, 2016

UNION SENTRY IN A TIGHT SPOT AT THE BATTLE OF FRANKLIN

  One of my favorite stories about the battle of Franklin is the tale of a Union sentry that was posted in a side doorway of the Carter House. General Jacob Cox selected the Carter House as his headquarters. A sentry was posted just outside of the door. The Union Army was not expecting a battle so late in the afternoon on November 30, 1864. They were caught with their pants down. The Confederate Army formed a line battle along the Winstead Hills two miles away. It was four in the afternoon and it is usually dark by five in late November. Night battles were rare in the Civil War. As the Confederate Army approached, in the excitement of the moment, no one thought to relieve the sentry of his post. The first general order, even in the modern military today, is that a sentry never abandons his post until properly relieved. As the bullets began to hit closer and closer to the sentry he made himself a small target in the doorway. Today you can see little ding marks where the sentry would fire his rifle and as he reloaded his muzzle loader, the ramrod was hitting the top of the doorway. Things were getting hotter and hotter until finally a bullet came too close for comfort. You can see the track of a bullet that grazed a white shutter and lodged in a post near the doorway. The soldier took the butt of his weapon and knocked out the lower panel of the door. He then crawled into the front room of the house where he achieved better cover. Apparently he left his rifle behind. After the battle, Fountain Branch Carter, the owner of the farm, repaired the damaged portion of the door with a piece of sheet metal that is still there today. Years after the battle the Union sentry revisited the Carter farm. When he told the family his story, they returned his rifle to him.


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