November 30, 1864: Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin

With Sherman embarking on his March to the Sea, John Bell Hood and his Army of Tennessee were left confronting the Union forces in Tennessee, some sixty thousand troops to the 39,000 under Hood.  The odds were actually longer than that, as Union control of the railroads and rivers of Tennessee would allow rapid Union reinforcement in Tennessee if necessary.  Hood decided that his only option for victory was to take Tennessee from the Union.  This was the longest of long shots, but at this stage of the War no Confederate commander had strategic options that could be called anything other than bleak.  Hood’s plan at least had his army taking the initiative, and he could hope for some massive Union blunders that might transform an impossible situation into one that gave him some hope of at least slowing what he no doubt perceived as an inevitable Union victory in the War.

Hood entered Tennessee on November 21, and his campaign began with some promise.  The Union forces were divided by 75 miles with Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland in Nashville, and Schofield and his Army of the Ohio, some 27,000 men, at Pulaski, Tennessee.

Hood did his best to bring Schofield to battle before he could unite with Thomas and succeeded in doing so on November 30 at Franklin, Tennessee, some 21 miles south of Nashville, after the Army of Tennessee missed a golden opportunity to destroy a portion of Schofield’s retreating force at Spring Hill the day before.

Schofield had abandoned his pontoon bridge during the retreat and thus his army fought the Battle of Franklin with its back to the Harpeth River, and potential annihilation if the Confederates could dislodge his defense.  Hood realized the opportunity that presented itself and ordered an all out assault that began at 4:00 PM.

Some of the most desperate fighting of the Civil War ensued.  An initial Confederate breakthrough in the Union center was sealed after ferocious combat, much of it hand to hand. Confederate attacks continued until 10:00 PM.  The unsuccessful attacks devastated the Army of the Tennessee.  Union total casualties of approximately 2,200 included 189 killed.  Confederate killed were ten times that number with total Confederate casualties of 6200.  The tenor of the Confederate losses is illustrated by their generals who were casualties that day.  Six Confederate generals died, including perhaps the best Confederate division commander, Major General Patrick Cleburne, seven Confederate generals were wounded and one was captured.  Schofield withdrew across the river that night and march his army to Nashville.  Hood followed with his army, now a pale reflection of the force that he led into battle the day before.  November 30, 1864 was the black day of the Army of Tennessee.

Here is the report of General Thomas on the battle: (more…)

Published in: on November 30, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 30, 1864: Battle of Franklin  
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29th Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops

Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.

Frederick Douglass

By General Order No. 143 on May 23, 1863, the United States War Department established the Bureau of Colored Troops for the enlistment of blacks in the Union Army.  Several volunteer regiments of blacks predated the creation of the United States Colored Troops, but most blacks who served in the Union army did so as part of the United States Colored Troops.  By the end of the war some 178,000 blacks had volunteered to serve, and they made up 10% of the Union army, forming 135 infantry regiments, 6 regiments of cavalry, 1 light artillery regiment, 13 heavy artillery regiments and one independent artillery battery.

One of the infantry regiments was raised in Illinois, the 29th Infantry regiment.  The regiment entered into service at Quincy, Illinois on April 24, 1864.  On May 24, 1864 it arrived in Virginia, and served at Alexandria as part of the Washington defenses until June 15, 1864.

Attached to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Ninth Corp until September 1864, and then the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, Ninth Corp until December 1864, the regiment participated in the following engagements:   the Battle of the Crater, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Grove Church and Boydton Plank Road. (more…)

Published in: on November 29, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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November 28, 1914: New York Stock Exchange Reopens for Trading



Obscured in our view by the greater conflict of World War II, it is hard for us to realize what an apocalypse World War I appeared to those who had the experience of living through it.  One sign of what an immense cataclysm it was, is demonstrated by the fact that the New York Stock Exchange closed for trading on July 31, 1914.  This was caused by the closure of all European stock exchanges with the advent of the War.  Stocks continued to be traded off the Exchange, and the Exchange was reopened on November 28, 1914 to allow for the trading of bonds.  Regular trading resumed on December 12, and a bull market ensued, proof positive of how durable financial markets tend to be and how quickly they adapt to most changing circumstances.

Published in: on November 28, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 28, 1914: New York Stock Exchange Reopens for Trading  
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Firing Line: Groucho Marx


From July 7, 1967.  The formal education of Julius “Groucho” Henry Marx ended at the age of 12, but to the completion of his life he was a voracious reader and a close thinker.  His interview with Buckley demonstrated that age, he was 76 at the time, had not lessened the sharpness of his wits.  Like many comics, he was fundamentally a serious man, with an eye for the incongruities of life.  I will spare you the obvious reflections on the decline of our culture from this little time capsule, but will note that discussion, as opposed to dueling monologues, is definitely a lost art.

Published in: on November 27, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Firing Line: Groucho Marx  
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I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day


Something for the weekend.  The incomparable Johnny Cash singing the hymn I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem Christmas Bells on which the hymn is based  in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War, and this knowledge makes the lyrics even more poignant:

 I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”


Published in: on November 26, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day  
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Tad and the Turkey

Turkey Pardon

Stories cluster about Lincoln like barnacles on a great ship.  Many of them cannot be sourced at all and have to be consigned to legend.  One such story that is probably just a legend is that of Tad and the Turkey.  The White House in 1863 received the gift of a live turkey that was to be fattened up for an eventual White House dinner.  Tad grew fond of the bird, named him Jack and eventually begged his father for the Turkey’s life.   Lincoln was reluctant at first, noting that the Turkey had been given as a gift for the table and not as a pet.  Tad’s pleas however eventually caused Lincoln to give the Turkey a presidential pardon.

Like all good legends this story has the participants behaving in character:  Tad always did have a menagerie of pets in the White House, and Lincoln was soft-hearted about animals and was a fairly indulgent father.    A sequel to the story had Jack the Turkey stepping to the front of a line of soldiers waiting to vote at a polling place set up at a White House.  Then Lincoln is supposed to have inquired of his son if Jack was going to vote.  Tad solemnly responded that Jack could not vote due to his being too young. (more…)

Published in: on November 25, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Thanksgiving 1789


Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” (more…)

Published in: on November 24, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Thanksgiving 1789  
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November 24, 1864: Thanksgiving for the Troops

In 1864 the Union League decided to raise a fund to supply Thanksgiving dinner on November 24, 1864 for the Union soldiers and sailors fighting in the East.  The reaction of the Northern public to this plan was overwhelming.  over $56,000 in cash was raised, an enormous sum at the time, 250,000 pounds of fowl, and enormous contributions of foodstuffs of every type.  The Union soldiers and sailors loved their feast and the reminder that they had not been forgotten by the folks back home.  For Confederate soldiers, on starvation rations, there was of course no feast, a fact underlining the overwhelming tragedy of the Civil War.  Here is the Union League appeal which was printed in the New York Times on November 8, 1864.  Note that  Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the future president of the same name, is the Treasurer: (more…)

Published in: on November 23, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 24, 1864: Thanksgiving for the Troops  
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Confederate Thanksgiving: 1862

Abraham Lincoln was not the only president to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation in the Civil War:

Once more upon  the plains of Manassas have our armies been blessed by the Lord of Hosts with a  triumph over our enemies.  It is my privilege to invite you once more to His  footstool, not now in the garb of fasting and sorrow, but with joy and gladness,  to render thanks for the great mercies received at His hand.  A few months  since, and our enemies poured forth their invading legions upon our soil.  They  laid waste our fields, polluted our altars and violated the sanctity of our  homes.  Around our capital they gathered their forces, and with boastful  threats, claimed it as already their prize.  The brave troops which rallied to  its defense have extinguished these vain hopes, and, under the guidance of the  same almighty hand, have scattered our enemies and driven them back in dismay.   Uniting these defeated forces and the various armies which had been ravaging our  coasts with the army of invasion in Northern Virginia, our enemies have renewed  their attempt to subjugate us at the very place where their first effort was  defeated, and the vengeance of retributive justice has overtaken the entire host  in a second and complete overthrow. (more…)

Published in: on November 22, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (5)  
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Thanksgiving Proclamation 1922

By the President of the United States of America



A Proclamation



In the beginnings of our country the custom was established by the devout fathers of observing annually a day of Thanksgiving for the bounties and protection which Divine Providence had extended throughout the year. It has come to be perhaps the most characteristic of our national observances, and as the season approaches for its annual recurrence, it is fitting formally to direct attention to this ancient institution of our people and to call upon them again to unite in its appropriate celebration.

The year which now approaches its end has been marked, in the experience of our nation, by a complexity of trials and of triumphs, of difficulties and of achievements, which we must regard as our inevitable portion in such an epoch as that through which all mankind is moving. As we survey the experience of the passing twelve-month we shall find that our estate presents very much to justify a nation-wide and most sincere testimony of gratitude for the bounty which has been bestowed upon us. Though we have lived in the shadow of the hard consequences of great conflict, our country has been at peace and has been able to contribute toward the maintenance and perpetuation of peace in the world. We have seen the race of mankind make gratifying progress on the way to permanent peace, toward order and restored confidence in its high destiny. For the Divine guidance which has enabled us, in growing fraternity with other peoples, to attain so much of progress; for the bounteous yield which has come to us from the resources of our soil and our industry, we owe our tribute of gratitude, and with it our acknowledgment of the duty and obligation to our own people and to the unfortunate, the suffering, the distracted of other lands. Let us in all humility acknowledge how great is our debt to the Providence which has generously dealt with us, and give devout assurance of unselfish purpose to play a helpful and ennobling part in human advancement. It is much to be desired that in rendering homage for the blessings which have come to us, we should earnestly testify our continued and increasing aim to make our own great fortune a means of helping and serving, as best we can, the cause of all humanity.

Now, Therefore, I, Warren G. Harding, President of the United States of America, do designate Thursday, the thirtieth day of November, as a day of Thanksgiving, supplication and devotion. I recommend that the people gather at their family altars and in their houses of worship to render thanks to God for the bounties they have enjoyed and to petition that these may be continued in the year before us.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this second day of November, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and forty-seventh.


By the President:
CHARLES E. HUGHES, Secretary of State.

Published in: on November 21, 2022 at 8:37 am  Comments Off on Thanksgiving Proclamation 1922