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Why the Band Played at Franklin

From the Confederate Veteran Magazine-1911 a story is found of the incredible charge at Franklin, Tennessee, which took place on November 30, 1864. This battle was for all intents and purposes the end of the Missouri Brigade. After the battle, the remnants of the brigade were sent to Mobile, Alabama and then Fort Blakely, Alabama until the end of the war.  The article explains why the band played during the Confederate charge and in its explanation one gets a glimpse of the incredible bravery of the Missouri Brigade.


Comrade Cunningham: In your address at the last anniversary of the battle of Franklin before the Daughters of the Confederacy at that place you spoke of the music on the battlefield on that ever-to-be-remembered 30th of November, i86a. Capt. B. L. Ridley, of Murfreesboro, in nis history also makes mention of this by saying the “band played.” As I have never seen anything in print as to whose band made the music, I will tell you in a brief way how it came about that we had music at the opening of this memorable battle. I was a member of Company C, 3d Missouri Infantry, Cockrell’s Brigade. When we arrived on the hill in sight of Franklin on the Columbia Pike, we were filed to the right and halted in a skirt of woods and ordered to rest at will. The brigade remained in this position only a few moments, when it was ordered into line for an advancement. About this time Col. Elijah Gates rode up and called our attention to two lines of infantry in front of us, at the same time saying: “Boys, look in your front ; we won’t get a smell.” When we saw this, we too thought we would have a walkover. Seeing the nice, smooth field between us and the enemy’s works, the writer with many others called on the Colonel for music and for a brigade drill. To this he readily consented and so ordered. As soon as we started the band began to play, and continued until the enemy’s batteries began to rake our lines. One man was killed (Taliaferro) and one wounded (G. A. Ewing, of my company) before the music ceased. When we were near the works, the first line or advance col- umn, which had been repulsed, met us and passed back through our lines. I did not inquire and never learned to what com- mand the retreating troops belonged.
The 1st Missouri continued its charge till we reached the obstruction of brush in front of the enemy’s works, where we found Texans, Arkansans, Tennesseeans. We all worked to- gether making gaps through this obstruction. Near these gaps were piled the dead in heaps of four and five, some from all the above-mentioned States. The writer helped to arrange and bury our dead the next morning. We buried one hundred and nineteen of our men in one grave near the pike, between the cotton gin and pike where we did our fighting. There were only three commissioned officers left in our brigade, one major, two lieutenants, and about one hundred men for duty. The writer was at Carthage, Springfield, and Lexington, Mo.; Elkhorn Tavern, Ark.; luka, Corinth, Port Gibson, Baker’s Creek, Big Black, and the siege of Vicksburg, Miss.; in front of Sherman from Rome, Ga., to Lovejoy Station, Ga. ; in rear of Sherman, battle of Allatoona Mountains, Eranklin; then to Mobile and Blakely, Ala., where we surrendered April 9, 1865. In all the above-mentioned battles and s’eges 1 never experienced anything equal to the battle of Franklin.


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"Sam Hildebrand's Confession" is certainly and interesting read. On pages 196-197 Hildebrand writes about a visit to Bollinger County, Missouri on May 25, 1864.

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