Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin (HMBW2)

Location: Franklin, VA 23851
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 40.458', W 76° 55.163'

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"Jumping out of bed"

The war seemed far from Franklin when Union forces captured Roanoke Island and the North Carolina Sounds in February 1862. In May, however, when they occupied Norfolk and Suffolk to control both coastal Virginia and North Carolina, suddenly the war was only twenty miles away. Soon recognizing Franklin as "one of the great thoroughfares [of] the army of General Lee, as regards provision," the Federals were determined to disrupt the supply line.

Union gunboats ranged up the Blackwater River in May and August in search of Confederates and military supplies but returned downstream empty-handed. Confederate authorities dispatched a brigade under Col. James K. Marshall of the 52nd North Carolina Infantry to defend Franklin. When Union Gen. John J. Peck, commanding the occupation of Suffolk, learned that Confederate troops were massing along the Blackwater River, he organized a joint army-navy expedition to converge on Franklin. Col. Samuel P. Spear marched from Suffolk with 1,300 infantrymen while Lt. Cmdr. Charles W. Flusser's three-gunboat flotilla (USS Commodore Perry, Hunchback, and Whitehead - ferryboats reinforced with sandbags and armed with artillery) steamed from Edenton up the Chowan and Blackwater Rivers.

At dawn on October 3, as Flusser's squadron approached Franklin at Crumpler's Bluff downstream behind you, it encountered Confederate sharpshooters including civilians and African Americans. The gunboats shelled the riverbanks as they steamed past, but stopped beyond the bluff, where felled trees obstructed the narrow river. Meanwhile, Confederate infantrymen countered Spear's advance. When Spear did not arrive as scheduled, Flusser shelled the town and then retreated downstream amid a hail of rifle fire. Franklin had experienced its first taste of warfare.

"The first time the Federal gunboats came up the river and bombarded our tittle town. ?the shells [fell] all around our house. Your grandmother and four of the brothers were in bed with the measles. ?If you ever had measles, you know how bad it makes you feel. You think that you are going to die right away, but when those shells began to fall around the house, there was some jumping out of bed and running. ?That was one of the most disagreeable happenings."
- Jenny Camp Norfleet
HM NumberHMBW2
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirgina Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 5th, 2014 at 7:18pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 328485 N 4060458
Decimal Degrees36.67430000, -76.91938333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 40.458', W 76° 55.163'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 40' 27.48" N, 76° 55' 9.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 398 US-258, Franklin VA 23851, US
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