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Monday, 20 November 2017

30th Milestones: Franklin

30th Milestones: Franklin

Franklin, Tennessee has long been a site of conflict. In April 1863 a skirmish between Union Gen. Gordon Granger’s and Confederate Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s forces produced more than 200 casualties. The second and more well-known Battle of Franklin was fought 153 years ago this month, on November 30, 1864, between Union Gen. John M. Schofield’s and Confederate Gen. John B. Hood’s armies. Lasting less than one day, the battle was one of the most ferocious of the entire Civil War. In an offensive that came to be known as the “Pickett’s Charge of the West,” Hood hurled his army at Schofield’s well-defended Yankees. The result was a bloodbath. Hood lost more than 6,000 men, including 1,750 killed. Among the Confederate dead were six generals, including the beloved Patrick Cleburne. Schofield by contrast lost 2,326 men, with 189 killed in action.

More recently, Franklin has been the site of a different kind of battle, which has been no less consequential. It began, arguably, in the early 21st century, with the construction of a public library on one of the Franklin’s few remaining pieces of undeveloped battlefield land. Rather than give up, however, preservationists redoubled their efforts, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, much like Sheridan at Cedar Creek or Jackson at Cedar Mountain. Working with local activists from Franklin’s Charge, the Civil War Trust helped lead a counterattack that prevented the battlefield’s Eastern Flank from falling into the hands of developers.

Buoyed by this success, preservationists went on the offensive, setting their sights on the spot where Patrick Cleburne was killed. For years, that site had been covered by a Pizza Hut, serving as a stark warning of what can happen when commercial development of historic land is allowed to continue unchecked. Today, thanks to the tireless efforts of local preservationists and unwavering support of Civil War Trust members like you, that site and others nearby are now part of a park which serves as a reminder of what dedicated citizens can achieve by working together.

As of November 2017, the Civil War Trust has successfully preserved 178 acres of hallowed ground at the Franklin battlefield. Franklin used to be an example of what we hoped to avoid. It now serves as an example of what we can achieve together.

The Civil War Trust