Col. Israel B. Stiles’ report (Union) after Battle of Franklin

Numbers 141. Reports of Colonel Israel N. Stiles, Sixty-third Indiana Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations November 30 and December 15-16, 1864.

HEADQUARTERS SIXTY-THIRD INDIANA VOLUNTEERS,
Nashville, Tenn., December 5, 1864.

SIR: In compliance with instructions received from Brigadier-General Cox, I have the honor to submit herewith a report of the operations of the Third Brigade, Third Division, Twenty-third Army Corps, at Franklin, Tenn., on the 30th of November, the brigade being temporarily under my command on that day, owing to the illness of Colonel Thomas J. Henderson, the brigade commander.

By direction of General Cox I placed the command in position early on the morning of the 30th, on the left of the Second Brigade, and with the left resting on the river and in the following order: One hundred and twentieth Indiana Infantry, Sixty-third Indiana Infantry, One hundred and twenty-eighth Indiana Infantry, with the One hundred and twelfth Illinois Infantry a short distance to the rear in reserve. Substantial works were at once thrown up, and such portions of our front as were not already obstructed by a well-grown and almost impenetrable hedge were covered with a strong abatis made of the hedges which ran at right angles with the works. At about 4 p.m. the enemy commenced his advance on our front in three lines of battle, preceded by a strong line of skirmishers. When within shell range, Battery M, Fourth Regulars, stationed on the left and rear of the brigade, opened upon the advancing lines. The front line of the enemy soon came within range of our muskets and was repulsed. A portion of their second line succeeded in reaching that part of the works held by the One hundred and twenty-eighth Indiana, and planted their colors upon them. The color-bearer was killed, and the flag fell upon the outside. A number of the enemy succeeded in climbing over the works, and were taken prisoners. This charge of the enemy was soon repulsed, and he made no further serious efforts to drive us from our position. The battery I have already mentioned, together with a battery in the fort across the river, kept up a continuous firing upon our front till after dark, which, I have no doubt, did much to check any further attempt of the enemy to advance upon us. In the meantime the One hundred and twentieth Indiana on the left was subjected to a terrific enfilading fire, both from the enemy’s artillery and infantry. The regiment and its commander, Colonel Prather, in my opinion, deserve great praise for the heroic manner with which they held their position, the loss of which might have resulted in a defeat to our army. It is proper also that I should mention the stubborn and soldierly conduct of Lieutenant -Colonel Packard, One hundred and twenty-eighth Indiana, and his command, in resisting the enemy after he had reached their works. The One hundred and twelfth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Bond commanding, though in reserve, was exposed to a considerable fire during the engagement, and near night-fall was ordered by General Cox to re-enforce some portion of the Second Division.

The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, commanding Sixty-third Indiana Volunteers, as well as that of the officers generally, was praise-worthy, and that of the men was made more efficient by the aid and presence of Colonel Henderson, the brigade commander, who, though suffering from illness, could not withstand the desire to be present where his command was engaged, and who was along the lines during the engagement, and whose opportunities of witnessing their good conduct were equal to my own.

By direction of General Cox I withdrew the brigade, except the One hundred and twelfth Illinois, across the river at midnight.

I learn that a report of the casualties and the number of prisoners taken has already been forwarded to General Cox.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

I. N. STILES,

Colonel Sixty-third Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

Lieutenant STEARNS,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

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