Lee White returns to the Emerging Civil War Series with a book about the battle that has always fascinated him most. Let Us Die Like Men: The Battle of Franklin continues the ECWS’s expansion into the Western Theater.
White, whose devotion to the Army of Tennessee has taken him from the dense forests of northwest Georgia to the gates of Atlanta and back into Tennessee, now pens the penultimate chapter in the army’s storied history.
“Since I was a kid and visited Franklin, it captured my imagination, the tragedy of it all in the twilight of the Confederacy,” said White. “The battle witnessed great heroics on both sides. Through my own study of the battle, I think I have gained some insights that haven’t been dealt with before. My hope is to add more to the story of the battle.”
Lee is the author of one of the ECWS’s earliest volumes, Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale: The Battle of Chickamauga. The ECWS is published by Savas Beatie.
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From the back cover:
John Bell Hood had done his job too well. In the fall of 1864, the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee had harassed Federal forces in north Georgia so badly that the Union commander, William T. Sherman, decided to abandon his position. During his subsequent “March to the Sea,” Sherman’s men lived off the land and made Georgia howl.
Rather than confront the larger Federal force directly, Hood chose instead to strike northward into Tennessee. There, he hoped to cripple the Federal supply infrastructure and the Federal forces that still remained there—the Army of the Cumberland under George Thomas. Hood hoped to defeat Thomas’s army in detail and force Sherman to come northward to the rescue.
On November 30, in a small country town called Franklin, Hood caught part of Thomas’s army outside of its stronghold of Nashville. But what began as a promising opportunity for the outnumbered Confederate army soon turned grim. “I do not like the looks of this fight,” one of Hood’s subordinates said; “the enemy has an excellent position and is well fortified.”
Hood was determined to root the Federals out.
“Well,” said a Confederate officer, “if we are to die, let us die like men.”
And thousands of them did. As wave after murderous wave crashed against the Federal fortifications, the Army of Tennessee shattered itself. It eventually found victory—but at a cost so bloody and so chilling, the name “Franklin” would ever after be synonymous with disaster.
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About the Author:
William Lee White is a park ranger at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, where he gives tours and other programs at the Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain Battlefields. He is the author of Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale: The Battle of Chickamauga, part of the Emerging Civil War Series, as well as several articles and essays on topics related to the Western Theater. He also edited Great Things Are Expected of Us: The Letters of Colonel C. Irvine Walker, 10th South Carolina Infantry CSA. Over the years, he has spoken to many roundtables, historical societies, and other history-minded groups.