Whereas the 1863 battle was a minor skirmish, however, today’s battle is an important engagement. General John Bell Hood‘s Confederate Army of the Tennessee desperately needs a victory to relieve pressure on Georgia and the Southern capital of Richmond. Yet once again, the Rebels are unable to break a string of major Union victories.
Although the two armies are evenly matched at about 27,000 men each, a too hastily made frontal assault (the last major charge of the war), low morale, insufficient rations and inferior firepower all contribute to a lopsided loss for the South. By the end of the day, the Confederates suffer almost three times as many casualties, including fourteen generals (six killed or fatally wounded, seven wounded, one captured). One-third of the army is wiped out.
Valuable military leadership is squandered this ill-fated day, while the Confederacy’s southernmost armies are severely weakened as triumphant Union forces turn to the task of reinforcing nearby Nashville, leaving Franklin to the defeated Rebels.
Meanwhile, the Alexandria General Hospital in Union-controlled Alexandria, Virginia, having treated only white soldiers since opening in July 1861, for the first time admits black soldiers today. Forty-thirty are admitted this day in the hospital complex that includes the city’s First Baptist Church.
Black soldiers are crucial to the growing successes of Union armies. Their admission into the Alexandria General Hospital represents another step forward for blacks in the North. Less than two years ago, many Northern whites, reflecting long-held prejudices, were certain that blacks would not be found fitting to serve in uniform. Their are few doubters now.
Black and Indian troops are housed at the Alexandria General Hospital for the remainder of the war.
Sources: Battle of Franklin, 1864 (link) and (link) and (link); “African American and American Indian Patients in Grace Church Branch, Second Division General Hospital, November 30, 1864 to April 29, 1865,” The Friends of Freedman’s Cemetery (link)