The Battle of Franklin: Five Hours in the Valley of Death
Wide Awake Films, Color, 65 minutes, $24.95
The fighting at Franklin,Tennessee, on November 30,1864,is regarded as one of the Confederacy’s worst disasters.The engagement is also blamed for setting up the final destruction of the Army of Tennessee the next month at Nashville.
The battle was part of a desperate attempt by the South to regain control of Tennessee. It pitted 38,000 Confederates under General John Bell Hood against an entrenched 32,000 Union soldiers under General John M. Schofield’s Army of the Ohio.
The outcome is sometimes described as a Confederate success because the Union forces left the field. Devastating losses in a series of unsuccessful Confederate frontal assaults,however,all but destroyed the Army of Tennessee. More soldiers died in five hours at Franklin—1,750—than in two days at Shiloh, where 1,723 were killed.
Most of the casualties came when an estimated 19,000 Confederates crossed some two miles of open ground to assault the Union’s strong position.The attack lasted almost five hours and is sometimes— rightly—called the “Pickett’s Charge of the West.”
The Battle of Franklin: Five Hours in the Valley of Death from Wide Awake Films captures both the valor and the horror of the fighting.It also uses quotes from the soldiers who fought there,although the words are sometimes lost in the sounds of the fighting and viewers would be better served with subtitles.
The 65-minute video was partially shot on the actual battlefield as well as by “imbedded” cameramen at the 140th Reenactment of Franklin in 2004. Originally released in 2005, the film has won a Silver Telly Award as well as a MidSouth Emmy for Best Historical Documentary.
The DVD includes segments from the Franklin reenactment, a battlefield preservation tour and an interview with historian Thomas Cartwright.
Written, produced, and directed by the Chitwood Bros. and narrated by Richard Fatherly, the video is marked by clear and understandable maps,first-rate historical accuracy,creative cinematography,and excellent recreations of events marking the sad and tragic story of Franklin.
Originally published in the March 2008 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.