Editor's note: This article was
originally published in The Charger in the Spring of 2000.
The reason the United States doesn’t
have 51 states is due to the failure of General William T. Sherman
to act adding the 36th State. What State is missing? The State of
We were taught in school that at
its founding the United States had thirteen colonies. This is
nonsense. The Continental Congress would only recognize 13, but
there were more. One colony not included was Franklin. This is an
outrage considering the people of Franklin were one of the keys to
the United States winning the War of Independence against the
The men of Franklin were the main
fighting force against the British at the battle of King’s Mountain,
North Carolina. King’s Mountain was one of the few victories for the
colonies against the British.
Again in the Civil War the people
of Franklin were ready for Statehood. They voted 3 to 1
against succession from the Union. They sent representatives to
Washington to discuss the situation with President Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was anxious to help and promised Union troops if the people
of Franklin would rise up against the Confederacy.
Believing the President, the people
of Franklin started their rebellion on November 8, 1861. Eight
railroad bridges on the main line between Atlanta, Georgia and
Richmond, Virginia were burned. Franklin men then waited in camps
for the Union Army. A Union Army which did not come. General William
T. Sherman told President Lincoln it was not possible for the Union
Army to launch an attack from Kentucky. Sherman became depressed and
returned to his home in Lancaster, Ohio.
Sherman failed the people of Franklin
Franklin men became very depressed
at the end of hangman’s rope. Confederate troops quickly arrived to
put down the rebellion and hang the bridge burners. Even though let
down by President Lincoln and Union Army General William T. Sherman,
the people of Franklin continued to fight and die for their beloved
Union. They formed a white underground railroad to smuggle men North
to join the Union Army. These men if caught could be hanged. Indeed,
the Confederacy hung scores of men from Franklin caught sneaking
Franklin provided more troops for
the Union Army than any other Southern area including West Virginia.
Franklin units in the Union Army
were almost all cavalry units. One unit, 2nd Tennessee Mounted
Infantry, was even involved in the chase throughout Ohio after
confederate raider John Hunt Morgan. Fourteen months later, the 13th
Tennessee (Union) killed John Hunt Morgan in Franklin (Greeneville,
Tennessee) on September 4, 1864.
Confederate troops would occupy
Franklin until late 1864 when Union troops, mostly Franklin men from
the white underground railroad, liberated their homeland from the
Rebels in November, 1864.
The men of Franklin were involved
in a final campaign of the war under the command of General George
Stoneman. They were part of a force sent to capture North Carolina
from the West. The Franklin men were horrified to hear the North
Carolina girls call them “Yankee boys’’. They never considered
During the invasion they captured
the notorious Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina,
although all the prisoners had already been sent elsewhere. They
were 100 miles west of Raleigh when the North Carolina capital fell
to the Union Army of W.T. Sherman.
The last war effort of the
regiments from Franklin was the chase to capture Confederate
President Jefferson Davis. The major problem with pursing Jefferson
Davis was the crossing of South Carolina. Franklin people always
felt South Carolina was the cause of the War. Troops were kept
moving night and day so they would not have time to burn and loot
South Carolina. Although missing out on the Jefferson Davis capture,
and the reward money, they did bring Confederate Vice President
Alexander Stephens and Confederate General and Cabinet member Robert
Tooms to prison.
Franklin provided the United States
with a much needed victory in the Revolutionary War, the 17th
President of the United States, and 31,000 Union troops in the Civil
war but never achieved Statehood. Clearly, William T. Sherman had
the best chance to make Franklin a State in the Fall of 1861, but
failed to act. It would have been great to see Franklin become the
36th State following West Virginia in July of 1864.