December 1, 2009

The Battle of Franklin

Yesterday was the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin (Tenn.), one of the opening salvos ultimately leading to the virtual destruction of the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee. This battle in particular and Hood's Tennessee Campaign in general have received copious treatment over the decades, from General Jacob Cox's 1897 The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864 to the more recent Embrace an Angry Wind: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah, written by Wiley Sword and published in 1992.

One of the more obscure monographs on the battle and certainly one of the priciest from the collectors perspective is The Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, The Bloodiest Engagement of the War Between the States by Robert Webb Banks (1843-1919) and published in 1908. Banks was enrolled at the University of Alabama when the war broke out but he left after Shiloh and joined the Confederate army as a private, ultimately rising to the rank of captain with the 37th Mississippi Infantry by the time of this battle. Just how pricey is this book? The few first editions offered through the internet are currently commanding asking prices well over $500. In my opinion, its demand and value stem almost solely from the fact that it is a Neale book. And at only 88 pages long, it's probably the thinnest hardcover ever published on this engagement and one whose focus is certainly quite narrow. The title is a bit of a misnomer, as the book focuses on a small segment of the battle in which the book's author took part. In fact, in C. E. Dornbusch's Military Bibliography of the Civil War, this title shows up under the 37th Mississippi rather than as a source pertaining to the Franklin battle.

The Neale bibliography notes that Confederate Veteran reported in 1911 that they had bought up all remaining stock for resale and for promotional use. Morningside Bookshop reprinted the book in 1988 in a limited edition of 500 copies and is easily obtainable today.

Pictured copy offered here.

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