The Battle of Franklin
Courtney's JournalTuesday, August 19th, 1997
Modern Day Franklin
The Battle of FranklinWe drove north a bit to the site of one of the Civil Wars most bloodiest battles. In fact, the more I learn about this incredibly tumultuous time in our country's history, I begin to think it wasn't so "civil" at all. What is civil about war to begin with? Brothers shooting brothers, classmates against classmates, uncles against nephews. It is incredibly dramatic and emotional. Part of me felt guilty being in these parts, wondering if some people might still hold a grudge against me, a northerner, for the victory and the incredible loss the south experienced.
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John Bell Hood, General for the Southern troops preparing a battle of revenge in Franklin. He was fighting his classmate, John Scofield, General for the Northern troops. Hood was wounded very badly in the battle at Gettysburg and lost his left leg. As a result, he drank a lot to dull the pain, emotional and physical, of this loss. It was November 30, 1864 and each side had approximately 25,000 men.
Hood had his men prepared for battle. That night whilst they slept, Scofield took the Northern troops around the camp. (Now, how 25,000 men and artillery could silently sneak past 25,000 other men escapes me, but they did.) That morning, Hood sat on his horse on Spring Hill, and watched his 25,000 men march in a straight line of 1 to 2 miles long directly into the ambush and the slaughter that followed. None of the southern soldiers had armor and this Battle of Franklin is touted as one of the bloodiest in Civil War history. Some have attributed the tactics in this battle to Hood reliving the battle in Gettysburg.
So important was this battle, in a variety of ways, so many people, soldiers from both sides would come back to this site for reinactments up to 1917.
Streets in Southern Franklin are named after Generals. And as we drove past, Scofield, Gist, Battlefield Road, we turned into the driveway of The Carter House. This house and its adjoining buildings were the Northern headquarters. Recently bought by The Heritage Foundation, Nashville's historical preservation organization, this house is now a museum. We stood in the beginning of heavy raindroplets (a tornado touched down 20 miles north of Nashville earlier today) awestruck at the bullet holes in the sides of the house, the barn. Neither wood nor brick was left unscathed. This house was the home of Captain Tod Carter, the youngest son of the Carter family, who hadn't been home in 2 years. He was coming home and while his family was hiding down in the basement, he was shot to death on the front lawn.
We drove further out of Franklin city limits to the Carnton Plantation (1345 Carnton Lane, Franklin, TN (615) 794-0903). Randal McGavock, the former mayor of Nashville built this typical neo-classical southern plantation which maintains the only privately owned confederate soldier cemetary. McGavock's son, Col. John McGavock and his wife, Carrie demonstrated true southern generosity and hospitality as they opened their home as a hospital. Carrie, the Lady of the house, rolled up the carpets and laid wounded soldiers next to each other. The blood stains are still on the floors. Equally dramatic were the 5 Generals lined up on the back porch, after they were fatally wounded. Adams, Cleburne, Granbury, and Strahl bloody and removed by death from this brutal war lay side by side. The 5th General, Gist, was carried by his manservant to a different house on the other side of Franklin. When he was finally delivered there, he had died.
John McGavock began a quest to find all the wounded soldiers and bury them in the now named McGavock Condfederate Cemetery, the largest private Confederate cemetary in the country. Over 1,500 soldiers are buried in this long, narrow plot of land, all laid to rest by state, with signposts displaying information such as: "Texas: 70" and other states with the number of soldiers from there. There is a strong connection between Texas and Tenessee. A lot of Teneeseeans gave their lives to help Texas with the Alamo. And Ravenswood, another plantation, was built by a friend of Goveror of Texas, Sam "The Raven" Houston.
Carrie McGavock was so moved by this act of her husband's and the bravery of the soldiers, she started a book titled, "The Book of the Dead" which records the name of every soldier in the cemetary.
This house is currently under construction thanks to the efforts of the Heritage Foundation. John S. Lancaster was on duty when we arrived and walked us through the front of the house. Reproduction wallpaper is gracing the walls, floors are being restored, and some of the original glass is still in the windows. Volunteer opportunities are available for this very important site in capacities of tour guide, school programs, administrative, special event help, mansion housekeeping, and maintenance. If you don't live in the area and can't volunteer physically, why not make a donation of $100 and a tree will be planted in your name (or any other name you designate) either along the drive or boundaries of Carnton.They will take care of the planting, pruning , and watering. All cedar sponsors will be honored on a plaque in the Carnton Visitors Center. The cedars were lost over the years to development, disease, and other forms of destruction.
This plantation has a website, along with other Franklin Battlefield information, and when I can get online and search for it, I'll let you know. If anyone has the interest and time, and is able to find the site, please email me and I'll send you an XMI waterbottle (one of our generous sponsors.)
Historic FranklinDan filled us in on an amazing historical tour of the Franklin area. Here are some highlights:
We didn't visit Belmont Mansion, but it was built by one of the wealthiest women in America. Adelicia Acklen built the Italian villa style in the 1850s. She is reportedly the woman Margaret Mead based Scarlett O'Hara on, although Ms. Mead claimed she never knew about Ms. Acklen.
- Andrew Jackson wrote a treaty wth the indians after he had been running them out of town for years and years. His house, the Hermitage was founded in 1798.
- James K. Polk lived further south, in the capital. He is actually buried outside the capital in its grounds.
- Noted architecht William Stickland built the capital, and the 1st Presbyterian church in downtown Nashville (which has an unusual decor with an Eygptian theme). Strickland is buried in the capital.
While not as many of the plantations were destroyed as further south, many deteriorated and became run down from being rented out.
Another interesting facts about the area are that near Harper's River is Fort Granger. This was a Union Fort that was being restored. One day Dan found a helium balloon that was set off into the sky by a 92 year old man in a nursing home.
Downtown FranklinEvery year, on the first weekend of August, there is a Jazz Festival. This festival has been gaining so much popularity that the city closes off the street to through traffic. In the center of the main square there is a monument of a confederate soldier. Janet told us there is a movement to take down the statue as some people feel it is racist. We all mentioned how while American history isn't necessarily pretty, it occurred and to deny it is a mistake. We must remember our past, and learn from our mistakes, or, as many many people have said before, we are doomed to repeat it.
Modern FranklinJanet Phillip educated us on the growth of Franklin over the last 15 years they've resided there. In that time, the number of elementary schools increased from 3 to 6 in the city proper. She attributed the rapid growth to the new Saturn plant 20 miles south. As a result she said a lot of country music stars settled in Leaper's Fork in Williamson County, south of Franklin. This more rural area, she said was a more backward, traditional community. The Judd's and many of the writers who live there are not happy with the ensuing expansion. With minimum 15 minute delays around the entire area due to construction, I can't say I necessarily blame them. Other country singers who reside in the area are Dolly Pardon, who built a home 8 miles north in a rural area and George Jones.
The Phillips drove us to George's home, in a very exclusive beautiful posh subdivision called Nestledown Farms. Many of these estates have about 5 acres of land -- Mr. Jone's bought 25. The entrance to 4025 Nestledown Estates has a large iron gate with music notes in a curved horizontal line across the center. Two brick posts with large golden eagles guarded the gates. In the wintertime, Mr. Jones exhibits an extravagant display of Christmas themed decorations. Creche scenes, Santa, reindeer, and light galore scattered throughout the front part of the estate keep visitor's eyes occupied as they snake around the cul-de-sac in the neighborhood.
Conway Twitty built his estate, "Twitty City" nearby as well.
Dina Shore went to the Hume Fogg High School. (get pic). in downtown Nashville.
The headquarters for Shoney's is in Nashville.
A story Dan and his wife like to tell someone when they get too big for their britches is the one of the State Senator Carmac. This man was very popular in his day as senator and as an editor. When he died, a statue was erected of him in the state capital. However no plaque or any identification was put on it. It is a very impressive statue but no one knows who it is. Out of this fascination for this beautiful unknown monument, a group of people have formed come together every year to pay homage to the statue. Dan's moral for this is "no matter how big you get, you're still a nobody."