The Old Confederate’s Story: Chapter 10

This is the tenth chapter to Robert Carden’s story. Chapter 9 is missing from his memoirs, but Chapter 10 reveals the aftermath of the Battle of Franklin and him barely escaping from some Yankees.

We then started on a march and I saw next day a lot of negro stragglers I never knew what became of them but suppose they and the Yankee officers were paroled.

I remember on the march one day hearing a soldier say that Sherman had wound up the ball but Hood was unwinding it.

There was nothing out of the ordinary during that march. I don’t remember the number of days it took to reach the neighborhood of Decatur but we did not go into the town at all as there were a lot of Yankees there and from the looks of the forts at a distance we had no time to waste with them, so we dropped down the river to the little town of Florence and put our pontoons across the river and lit out for middle Tennessee. We just cleaned everything up or everybody got out of our way until we landed about Franklin, I suppose and believe that Franklin was one of the hottest battles of the war. I was not in the battle myself but had arrived on the hill south of Franklin when I saw the battle begin. It was fought about two miles from where we were and we never got into the engagement.

I went up to where our lines had fallen back to and formed near the Carter house the next morning and saw what had been done the evening before. The Yankees had retreated toward Nashville during the night and left their dead and wounded on the field. I never saw as many dead as were on the ground in front of the Yankee breastworks. There was a locust thicket in front of their works and I counted 19 balls that had hit one sapling from the ground to the height of a man’s head. These were shots from the Yankee side, but at the Carter house there was a small brick building, I don’t know what it was used for, which was struck by over 100 balls. I saw it again in 1911. It has never been molested or changed in any way since the war. This house was inside the Yankee lines and these shots were fired by the Rebels.

Just inside the works in the Carter house, I think it was the next morning after the battle I saw a Yankee officer who had been wounded, I don’t know how badly but he looked kind of glum as he had not got in good humor since the battle. I asked him if I could do anything for him and he looked at me as though he would like to kill me. I told him it would be a pleasure to me to help him in any way I could and he said I could give him a drink of water which I did. I saw another poor fellow who was still out in the breastworks. I think from his uniform he was artilleryman. He was sitting with both hands up holding his face, his eyes were about closed and his face had a greenish color.

I went back to our lines and saw a lot of prisoners, all surrounded by a lot of Rebel guards. I was standing around looking at them when one stepped up to me and said he wanted to speak to me privately. We stepped to one side and he told me that he had a watch that he would have no need for in prison and that if he could get some Confederate money for it he would be very glad. He told me the reason he had picked on me was that he thought I would treat him right. Well, I could have taken it from him and kept it but I gave him twenty dollars in Confederate money for it, all the money I had, and he went on to prison.

I suppose from the appearance of everything that this was one of the hardest battles of the war. We lost many killed among them several Generals and officers of less prominence. We left here in a day or two for Nashville, but we never got there, although we arrived in sight of the city.

I remember the first afternoon several of us went up on a hill in a clearing where we could see Fort Negley. We were about two and a half miles from the fort and were standing around looking at it when we saw a puff of smoke shoot up from the fort, and someone remarked that they were shooting at us. We finally concluded that we were mistaken about it, but soon after that here it came and about that time its mate barked and we left there before it landed. It surprised us that it took the shell so long to come two and a half miles.

I remember that one day while we were around here waiting for the Yankees to come out so we could whip them that I ventured out in front of our lines to see what was what I came to a fine big brick residence belonging to a Widow Brown, the wife of one of our ex-Governors. There was only Mrs. Brown and a grown daughter living there at the time but there was a big Missouri Yankee there who had been left for protection. I had my gun with me and his gun was standing against the stairs. He never tried to get it but said that it was one of the rules of war not to molest a guard under such circumstances. I told him I understood the rule and I staid there quite a while talking to the ladies and the soldier too. The ladies told me they were southern sympathizers, and after a while I thought I would venture a little further on. I went out and crossed the pike that run along the yard fence and had not gone twenty steps when I saw a lot of Yankees around a fire, presumably cooking. It was down a slant in the ground and if they had seen me at all they could only have seen my head, but none of them saw me. I stooped and turned around and if ever a Johnnie Reb moved, I did. I never even stopped to tell Mrs. Brown and the rest good by. I have always thought they did not treat me right. That Missouri Yankee might have told me it was not safe to go very far out that way. Mrs. Brown being a good southern woman might have given me the wink and nodded her head back south and I think I would have taken the hint, but she did not. I understand her daughter still lives in Nashville. I would like very much to meet her.

-Compiled by Leonard Martinez and originally from the memoirs of Robert C. Carden.