Dorn's command, which, I have since carefully ascertained, consisted of about 9,000 cavalry and mounted infantry and two regiments of infantry proper. These were seasoned troops, the most of them having been in service since the war commenced, and having passed through many engagements. A glance at the plat of the town of Franklin and its environs, which is hereto attached,* together with a partial description herein of the approaches to the town, especially from the south, the topographical features of the surrounding country, and the condition of our works of defense on the 10th instant, will be necessary to correctly describe the nature of the attack made by, and repulse of, Van Dorn.
The only artificial defense that we had was the fort situated on the top of the bluff which rises on the north side of the Harpeth River, east of and commencing at the point of intersection of the railroad with the river. Of this the main work was only partially finished; the outworks had not been commenced. Its armament consisted of two 24 pounder siege guns and two 3-inch rifled guns from the Eighteenth Ohio Battery, which were added thereto after the action had commenced. This fort is about 40 feet above the general surface of the plateau on which Franklin is situated, although there are several rising pieces of ground thereon about 1 mile from the fort on a line extending from the Lewisburg pike to the river below the town, which are very near on a level with it.
The fort commands most of the approaches to Franklin north of the Harpeth, and all of the approached from the south save that part of the plateau which is covered by a few blocks of houses, which stand in the southwest part of the town. My Harpeth River at an ordinary stage of water, such as there was on the 10th instant, is from 30 to 40 feet wide and from 2 or 3 feet deep, with square-built banks from 6 to 10 feet high. It can easily be crossed both above and below Franklin at several old fords.
The facilities for reaching Franklin from the north are very good; from the south they are excellent. It is approached from the south by the Lewisburg, Columbia, and Carter Creek pikes, all of which are in good condition. The Lewisburg pike strikes the river a short distance above the town and then follows its course for about 3 miles, when it leaves it and runs in a southeasterly direction. It can easily be reached from the Murfreesborough road by a country road that crosses the river at Hughes' Mill. This pike is quite level and crooked. The Columbia pike is an excellent road, hard, level, and straight for 3 miles from town, where it passes through two high hills or knobs in a narrow gap. The Carter Creek pike is hard and level until it reaches a line of hills at a point 2 miles south of the town. There are also other roads leading into Franklin from the south and from and into the pikes above described, but it is not necessary herein to refer to them. The plateau on the south side of the Harpeth, and upon which Franklin is situated, is surrounded almost entirely by a line of hills at a distance of from 2 or 3 miles from the town. The ground is rolling, and it is entirely cleared of timber, save at the point's designated on the plat. Directly west of the fort, on the north side of the river, is the ground on which my cavalry was encamped. It was heavily timbered, and from the west base of
*See p. 225.