Sunday, November 24, 2013

Carnton Plantation

  My first association with the Carnton Plantation in Franklin was when I would see the old house while hunting for Civil War relics in the early 1970's. There is a subdivision near Carnton today in the area where I hunted when it was primarily farm land. I knew it was an antebellum home but I wasn't aware of how historic Carnton was. It was in a horrible state of disrepair and I have learned since then that a farmer was using the house as his hay barn. In 1977 the owner of the property donated the house and ten acres to the Carnton Association and they have done a fantastic job of restoring the plantation to it's former glory. Originally the McGavock's owned 1400 acres. It was built by Randall McGavock in the 1820's. He was mayor of Nashville and a close friend of Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. Jackson on several occasions was an overnight guest in the home.

  His son John took over the plantation in 1843 upon the death of Randall. In 1848 John married his cousin Carrie Winder from Thibodaux Louisiana. They had five children of which only two survived, A son Windor, 1857 to 1907 and a daughter Hattie, 1855 to 1932. In 1860 the net worth of the McGavock's was 339,000 dollars, which is about six million in today's dollars. Their main crops were wheat, corn, oats, hay and potato's. They also were involved in raising and breeding livestock, and thoroughbred horses.

  On November 30, 1864 during the battle of Franklin it became the main field hospital. Homes and churches all over Franklin were used as hospitals but Carnton was the largest. A staff officer later wrote that "the wounded, in hundreds, were brought to [the house] during the battle, and all the night after. And when the noble old house could hold no more, the yard was appropriated until the wounded and dead filled that...."On the morning of December 1, 1864 the bodies of four Confederate generals killed during the fighting, Patrick R. Cleburne, Hiram B. Granbury, John Adams, and Otho F. Strahl, lay on Carnton’s back porch.

  The floors of the restored home are still stained with the blood of the men who were treated here. It was estimated that 300 men were placed in the house that first night and at least 150 of them died. I have toured the house several times and I am always fascinated by the amount of blood stains on the floors. In the children's room upstairs where it is believed that the main operating room was you can see blood stains in a semi-circle which indicates that this is where blood was dripping from a surgeons apron. Across from this is what looks like shoe prints in blood that may have been where a nurse or the surgeons assistant was standing. On one tour I took the guide said that after amputation the limbs of the soldiers were thrown out of the second floor window into a waiting wagon below. When the wagons were filled they would be replaced by an empty one. On another tour the guide said that they were pitched over into the corner of the room. Which goes to show that much of history is based on speculation. We do know one thing for sure, Many arms and legs were amputated in the hours, days and weeks after the battle of Franklin. Carrie assisted with treating the wounded. Witnesses said that the bottom of her dress was saturated with blood and she cooked breakfast the next morning. John died in 1883 and Carrie in 1905. The family sold the farm in 1911. Carrie became known as the "Widow of the South"..
John McGavock

Carrie McGavock

Windor and Hattie McGavock

Forrest at Carnton

The porch where legend has it the bodies of four Confederate generals were placed.  Cleburne, Adams, Strahl, and Granbury. One historian disputes this claim and says only Cleburne, Granbury, and Strahl were here, along with two other Confederate officers named Col. R.B. Young, Granbury's Chief of Staff, and Lt. John h. Marsh, aide to General Strahl.

Bloodstained Floors

Bloodstained Floors

Slave Quarters
Honoring The Dead In The Battle Of Franklin on the 150th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Franklin

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