Sunday, July 29, 2018

In his footsteps at Franklin: 'Suffering more or less all the time'

73rd Illinois Private Stuart Hoskinson was wounded near the Carter house, perhaps by friendly fire.
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Long before their arrival on the Franklin battlefield, 73rd Illinois soldiers Riley and Stuart F. Hoskinson endured great hardship. At Chickamauga on Sept. 20, 1863, father and son were captured at a Federal field hospital, where each had been assigned to care for wounded.  "As we were perfectly powerless," recalled Riley, a sergeant, "we made the best we could of a bad bargain."

Five days later, Riley and his son escaped -- "God's will," the father called their plan. Eluding scores of Confederates during a journey through woods, up and over Lookout Mountain and down a stream on a makeshift raft, the Hoskinsons remarkably found their way back to Federal lines near Chattanooga. Neither man suffered a serious injury.

At the Battle of Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864, Stuart wasn't as fortunate.

About 5:30 p.m., Confederates threatened to smash through both lines of Union works near Fountain Carter's house. Urged on by Major Thomas Motherspaw, the 73rd Illinois, one of seven regiments in Emerson Opdycke 1st Brigade, rushed to help fill the gap. Stuart recalled firing nearly 60 rounds during the desperate fighting on Carter's Hill, wounding at least one Confederate. The 21-year-old private suffered severe wounds himself, perhaps from friendly fire, when a bullet crashed into his collarbone. "Sergeant," a captain told 45-year-old Riley M. Hoskinson, "your son is killed; he is shot through the lungs and is bleeding from his mouth and nose.' "

Taken to a makeshift hospital at a church in Franklin, Stuart became a prisoner again when the Confederates retook the town. But Hoskinson survived his grievous wounds thanks, in part, to the care of a local mother and daughter. "... They waited on us," he remembered, "just as well as they could have done if we had belonged to the other side."

Nearly 20 years after the battle, Stuart Hoskinson recalled his harrowing experience at Franklin in a report published in The National Tribune, a newspaper for Civil War veterans. The physical toll from that late-fall day in 1864 was still evident: "I am suffering more or less all the time from it," he wrote of his war wound.

Let's follow in Stuart's footsteps at Franklin:

An Illinois Soldier's Experience

Emerson Opdycke:
Died in 1884 after

shooting himself.
To the Editor: In The National Tribune of July 10 I saw a letter from J. D. Remington, Co. I, 73d Ill, Ill., in which he refers to the death of Brig.-Gen. [Emerson] Opdycke and the part taken by him and our brigade at Franklin, Tenn. As he says in his letter, we all loved the General as a commander, and I was deeply grieved to hear of his death and the manner in which it came. I have good reason to remember that eventful evening of Nov. 30, 1864, and well remember seeing our troops who were holding the works in front of us falling back in confusion before the charge of the rebels; then hearing our Major (Motherspaw, not Motherspan) give the order to the 73d to charge to the front; then of the confused mass of our retreating men who tried in vain to check right in front of Carter's house, they rushing to the rear pell-mell through the gaps in the picket-fence, and we in as big a hurry to get to the front to salute the Johnnies. When we got to the inside line of works the rebels had full possession of the outer line and many were between the two. Our fire, given as fast as we got into position, soon checked their advance and sent them to grass or to the rear.

"When we got to the inside line of works," Stuart Hoskinson recalled, "the rebels had full possession of 
the  outer line," about 20 yards in front of Fountain Carter's smokehouse (left).
Some few of our men had failed to make good their retreat to the rear from their position behind the outer works and were crouched close down, not seeing any way to get out of a bad fix. One rebel, I noticed in particular, was on the works above the head of one of our men and, I suppose, having fired his gun, had raised it in an act of clubbing the man below. I quickly brought my gun to bear on him about his waist-belt and fired, and the last I saw of him he was falling backward with his hands in the air. He might have received other shots than mine, but as he was not over 100 feet from me I could have wagered he carried my first shot of the battle with him. I never knew just what hour the fight ended, but at about 8 o'clock, as near as I should judge, for I had fired nearly 60 rounds.

"I managed to get to the rear, behind Carter's house, where I lay down ...," Stuart Hoskinson recalled.
I received a shot in my left shoulder, which (barring accidents) I will carry to my grave, striking me on the point of collar-bone and coming out at the backbone near the bottom of the shoulder-blade. At the time, and for three or four days, till suppuration set in and the pieces of cloth came out of the wound, I was not certain but what I had been accidentally shot by some of our men in rear of me. The blood rushed from my mouth in a stream and I thought my last hour was near, but after a short time the inward bleeding stopped and I took courage. A lull in the firing taking place shortly after, I managed to get to the rear, behind Carter's house, where I lay down for an hour or more, when I heard some one inquire if there were any of the 73d there. I answered "here," and three or four of our regiment came to me and carried me into town and left me in the brick church on the east of the turnpike, with about 100 others of our severely wounded. Having been on picket at Spring Hill the night before and rear-guard all day from there to Franklin, I was worn out, so I fell into a troubled sleep, and about midnight wakened to find we were prisoners.

"Three or four of our regiment came to me and carried me into
 town and left me in the brick church on the east of the
 turnpike," recalled Stuart Hoskinson. The Presbyterian church, 
severely damaged during the war, was replaced by 
another church in Franklin in 1888.
There were 190 of our wounded taken there, and at the end of 17 days, at the recapture of Franklin, we were reduced to 140. One Surgeon staid with us, and with the assistance of one or two resident physicians cared for our wounds. Had it not been for the kindness of some of the ladies of Franklin I do not know how we would have fared, as what little rations of flour and poor beef was issued to us had to be cooked, and no one to do it but them. One old lady and her daughter, named Courtney, we will never forget. for although they had a son and brother who was a Lieutenant in the rebel service, yet they waited on us just as well as they could have done if we had belonged to the other side.

"As brave an officer as we ever had
 in the regiment," Stuart Hoskinson wrote of
 Major Thomas Motherspaw, who was
mortally wounded at Franklin.

(Find A Grave)
Our Major (Motherspaw) was shot in the groin, and I saw him clap his hand to the wound, but had too much to attend to in my front to see more. He was on his horse close to the turnpike and near where [Confederate General Patrick] Cleburne was killed. He died December 18, in Nashville, one day after we were recaptured by our forces. As brave an officer as we ever had in the regiment, kind and considerate to his men and loved by all. He was formerly Captain of Co. D, and commanded the regiment, as our Lieutenant-Colonel was on service in Nashville, and Col. Jas. F. Jacques was in Washington, having been called there by President Lincoln to go to .Richmond in May preceding. There were only two others of my regiment among the wounded left in Franklin besides myself -- Serg't [Joseph] Allison, Co. C, and a young man of Co. D, I have forgotten his name. [In the 73rd regimental history, Stuart notes it was James D. Branch.] Allison was shot in the small of the back and died Dec. 10, 1864; the other man lived long enough to reach the station seven miles from his home, on the Wabash Railroad, east of Springfield, Ill., and died there. He was shot through the neck and both collar bones broken. I should like some of his friends to let me know what his name was.

I received my discharge Feb. 10, 1865. from "gunshot wound of left shoulder" but after reaching home it proved to be an injury to the left lung also, and for nearly 30 months the wound in my back remained open, so I could blow by breath through the opening. I am suffering more or less all the time from it, and am at present drawing $12 per month pension. The loss of the rebels at Franklin must have been greatly understated in their official report, for more than one of their men told me while prisoners that their loss was 6,000 killed, and I know when our men recaptured the town there were 1,500 or more rebel wounded there.

-- Stuart F. Hoskinson, Co. G, 73d Ill., Seattle, King Co.. W. T.

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-- A History of the Seventy-Third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, Regimental Reunion Association, Springfield, Ill., 1890.
-- The National Tribune, Aug. 7, 1884.

1 comment:

  1. Peggy Vogtsberger8:20 PM

    Great blog as usual!