Thursday, November 21, 2013

Theodrick "Tod" Carter

  Captain Theodrick "Tod" Carter was the son of Fountain Branch Carter, owner of the Carter House. He along with his older brother Moscow enlisted in the 20th Tennessee Infantry regiment in 1861. In November 1863 Tod was captured by Federal forces on Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga. He was imprisoned at Johnson's Island in Ohio. Carter was being transferred on February 9, 1864 by train to a prison camp in Maryland. After pretending to be asleep he jumped through the train window when the guard was not looking. He escaped into the Pennsylvania countryside at night. A search party was formed but he managed to evade them. He headed South on foot and managed to run into a kind Northern farm family who fed him. He traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi River until he reached Memphis. From Memphis he traveled across the South until he reached Dalton Georgia. There he found his old regiment, the 20th Tennessee and joined the staff of General Thomas Benton Smith. This was an incredible journey on foot through hundreds of miles of enemy territory without being captured. His fiance waited for him back home and their letters and Tod's war experiences, along with another Franklin soldier, was the inspiration for the movie Cold Mountain.

  As the Army of Tennessee marched into Tennessee they passed a sign which read " Tennessee, a Grave or a Free Home". Tod Carter was a quartermaster officer and because of his position he didn't have to participate in the attack. The night before the battle a friend described Carter as being in "a perfect ecstasy of joy" at the prospect of seeing his family again. He hadn't been home for three and one half years but he was not about to consider missing the attack. Tod was so eager to see his home again that he took paths that he had traveled as a child and he was able to sneak up close to the house as the Yankees were digging trenches through his yard. A family member saw him and frantically signaled him to leave. With tears streaming down his face he headed back toward the Winstead Hills.

  Todd mounted his horse and rode ahead of his brigade shouting "follow me boys, I'm almost home". Five hundred feet from his front yard he was struck by a Yankee bullet and tumbled from his horse. About 9:00 P.M. the Union Army retreated to Nashville in a hurry leaving their dead and wounded behind. The Confederates suffered 7,000 casualties as opposed to the Union Army's 3,000. This fact made Franklin a very costly victory for the South. Since the Yankees left the Confederates in possession of the battlefield. About midnight the family emerged from the basement to a scene of horror. General Smith told them that Tod was wounded. He led Tod's father, three sister's, and a sister-in-law in search of Tod. In the lantern light the women screamed at the sight of Tod's wounded body. He had been shot nine times. His worst wound and the one that proved to be mortal was a bullet that hit him above his left eye. The wound was caused by a Williams cleaner bullet of which I have many in my personal collection. It was in the possession of Tod's great-great-nephew until a few years ago when he donated it to the Carter House museum. Because the parlor of the house was being used as a field hospital they carried Tod into his sister Annie's room in the ell part of the house as the sun was coming up. Tod died the next day, December 2, 1864.

Death bullet
Grave of Todd Carter


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