Confederate troops, under the command of General John Bell Hood, had skirmished with Union troops, under the command of Major General John Schofield, for several days from the Tennessee River at the Alabama border, through the towns of Columbia and Spring Hill. And then, with Scofield's men dug into breastworks along the southwest edge of Franklin, Hood ordered an ill-advised charge down Winstead Hill.
More ferocious, more protracted, and more deadly than even Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, the assault continued long after dark amidst freezing rain and withering fire. The slaughter was horrific. There were more than 7,000 casualties. The Confederates lost 55 regimental commanders and 6 generals.
Though they technically won the battle, the losses were so great that their capacity to continue the war was effectively ended.