Monday, November 26, 2007

Carter House #4

Franklin is the blackest page in the history of the War of the Lost Cause. It was the bloodiest battle of modern times in any war. It was the finishing stroke to the Independence of the Southern Confederacy.
I was there. I saw it.

–Sam Watkins, 1st Tennessee Infantry

Battle of Franklin, cont'd. (I promise not to be as verbose today!)

As one would imagine, the Carter property did not survive unscathed. The Union had torn down barns and part of the cotton gin to build fortifications. Because the farm office and smoke house were right where the soldiers built the inner breastworks, they received a lot of damage from musket and gun fire. And, after the battle, the main house became a hospital for wounded soldiers.

The farm office (above) has the distinction of having the most bullet holes of any building still standing from the war. The photo above is of the south and west walls of the office. At left is a photo of the south wall of the smoke house. Note the holes left by musket balls. In all, there are over 1,000 bullet and musket holes still visible in the walls of the Carter House buildings. (Click on the photos to enlarge them and get a better look at the damage.)

Unfortunately, damage to their property was not the devastation the family faced. When the Carter family emerged from the cellar at the end of the battle, they found that the Union army had pushed on to Nashville. However, their elation at having survived unscathed and having the Union gone dimmed rather quickly when a Confederate soldier told them that Capt. Theodrick (Tod) Carter, Fountain's 24-year old son, had been wounded in battle.

Moscow Carter, Tod's oldest brother, immediately went out to the fields to find Tod. Soon, Fountain Branch Carter, three of Todd's sisters, a sister-in-law, and neighbors joined in the search. (Keep in mind that it was near midnight at this point, and there were no street lights.) The group carried lanterns and torches and had to wend their way over the fortifications, through the trenches and through the blood and the bodies of wounded and deceased soldiers piled on their property. Just before daybreak, they found Tod about 500 feet from the house and carried him back to the house where he had been born. He died two days later from head wounds.

Called the "Gettysburg of the West," the five-hour Battle of Franklin was one of the bloodiest of the war. Of the 22,000 infantry and 5,000 calvary soldiers fighting for the Union, 2500 were either wounded, captured or killed. Of the Confederacy's 20.100 infantry and 5,000 calvary soldiers, over 7,000 were wounded, captured or killed. Four Confederate generals were killed, while only one Union general was wounded. More soldiers from the Confederate Army of Tennessee were killed (1750+) were killed in that five-hour battle than in the five-day Battle of Shiloh or the three-day Battle of Stones River.

The State of Tennessee bought the Carter House in 1951 and opened it to the public two years later. It is a Registered Historic Landmark and serves as a monument to all the soldiers who fought there.

There is an effort to restore as much of the battlefield as possible. In 2005, the City of Franklin purchased a lot about 100 yards from the Carter House where, for years, a Pizza Hut stood. That was the site of the Carter cotton gin and the Union's main breastworks (fortifications) and was near where Confederate General Patrick Clebourne fell. In addition, last year, the Carter House Association acquired 1/2 acre of land adjacent to the property and a key part of the battlefield.

On the anniversary of the battle every year, volunteers light 10,000 luminaries to commemorate the casualties of the Battle of Franklin.


Anonymous said...

This is an amazing story, Chris. An interesting too me for a lot of reasons and your photos just adds to the narrative. Nice job.

Jim said...

I agree with OML. I love the story and pictures.

Red Ink said...

Love the yarn Chris .. It's always nice to get a bit of a story with the great photos. Even better if we get a smile out of them too.

I'll be back {grin}.

Me said...

Those pictures are a stark and sobering reminder of that tragic chapter in our history. Just awful. But the photos and the lesson are great! Thanks Chris,

Isadora said...

Thank you for reminding us of the history. Not always a sweet story but it is still our past.

Ming the Merciless said...

Thanks for the great history lesson.

I don't remember much from my history classes. :-)

Carlos Lorenzo said...

I like your history lessons and I love your English. Great posts Chris.

Lynette said...

I agree with Mr. Lincoln. And I cannot even imagine the light from those luminaries. Have you been there when they're flickering in the night, Chris?