For the Union, 1863 brought the Emancipation Proclamation, victory at Gettysburg, and the capturing of the Mississippi River. Federal forces continued their drive toward Atlanta in hopes of ending the war altogether. But on March 5th, seven miles (11.3 km) south of here, the Battle of Thompson Station turned into a major loss for the Union, with more than 1,000 men captured. In response thousands of Federal troops occupied this area, and built Fort Granger just east of Franklin, resolving to hold onto this vital region for the duration. By late spring, this immediate area became the front line of the Civil War.
As a result, much of this landscape was destroyed. Both sides striped the countryside of livestock and grain to feed their armies. Churches, public buildings, and schools in Franklin and surrounding communities became headquarters and hospitals. Soldiers tore down barns and homes to build huts and fortifications. Federals in Franklin also chopped down whole forests and orchards, including trees in this area, to provide clear lines of fire for artillery. And the battles continued. In late September, just across the border into Georgia, the Battle of Chickamauga killed and wounded over 28,000 men, including more than seventy locals. It would prove to e the second bloodiest battle of the war.
war worn. The shattered glass in her churches and school houses, her lonely streets and the closed shutters of her store houses, the battered doors and ruined machinery of her manufactories, and above all the deathlike, breathless silence, that absence of all sound, that can be felt nowhere but at the desolate hearthstone, here reigns supreme."
Scot Butler, 33rd Indiana Regiment - 1863