Benjamin Franklin Cheatham

Civil War Confederate General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham was born at Nashville, Tennessee, October 20, 1820. After service in Mexico, where he was a colonel of Tennessee Volunteers, he became major general of state militia, while he was also engaged in farming. He was appointed a Confederate brigadier general on July 9, 1861, and major general to rank from March 10, 1862. He distinguished himself as a brigade, division, and corps commander in every engagement of the Army of Tennessee from Shiloh to Atlanta.

Upon General Hood’s undertaking the Tennessee campaign in the fall of 1864, Cheatham was placed in command of General Hardee’s old corps. In the course of the advance toward Nashville, Hood left two-thirds of S.D. Lee’s corps and virtually all the artillery of the army to demonstrate against the Federal General Schofield’s forces at Columbia. His plan then called for a flank march, which would throw his other two corps under Cheatham and A.P Stewart across the Columbia-Nashville turnpike, thereby cutting off the Federal withdrawal. The ensuing contretemps at Spring Hill, Tennessee-during which Schofield’s troops, unopposed, marched north along the turnpike and occupied a well-neigh impregnable position at Franklin-resulted in severe strictures on Cheatham, by Hood for dereliction of duty.

It also gave rise to a controversy, which was waged increasingly until the death of both officers (and to this day). The weight of evidence definitely favors Cheatham. After the war he was unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1872, superintendent of state prisons, and postmaster of Nashville. He was occupying the last-named office at the time of his death there on September 4, 1886. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.