Saturday, November 22, 2014

Carrie McGavock And Her Yankee Slave

Frank James

Carrie McGavock
  Jessie James and his brother Frank lived in Nashville for four years, from 1877 until 1881. Frank said these years were some of the happiest of his life. They were hiding out because of their failed attempt at robbing a bank in Northfield Minnesota. Several members of their gang were killed and the Younger brothers had been captured. I am assuming that it was during this time that Frank James met Carrie Winder McGavock who was the owner of Carnton plantation in Franklin and popularly known as the "Widow of the South". Frank and Jesse were Confederate veterans although they were more guerrilla's than soldiers. They rode with Quantrill in Missouri.during the war. An Alabama Colonel gave the following account to Frank of an incident just after the battle of Franklin. Carrie's house and yard were full of wounded and dying soldiers that she and her family were caring for. Next Sunday is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Franklin.

   "I visited the battlefield of Franklin, where was fought one of the bloodiest and most terrible battles in the whole history of the world's wars, great and small" said the survivor of Quantrell's night-raiding daredevils. " I met there a lady who played a conspicuous part in that awful drama. She is Mrs. McGavock. "A colonel from Alabama, whose name I can't recall, told me that he was under Mrs. McGavock's command during most of the battle. Her magnificent home, situated close to the heavy fighting, was converted into a hospital soon after the battle opened. The Colonel says that when he applied to General Forrest for orders, that dashing cavalryman told him to report to Mrs. McGavock. He did as directed and when he reached the house found its fair mistress ministering to the wounded and washing the blood from the dead. Her skirts were splashed with blood and her bare arms were as bloody as though she had stuck them into buckets of the crimson fluid. "Go get a Yankee" was the imperious command she gave the Alabama Colonel, when he told her he had been ordered by General Forrest to report to her. 

  "Alive or dead" laconically inquired the Colonel. "Alive of course" was the quick response. What use have I for a dead Yankee?" "Without further ado the Colonel galloped back to our lines and in a jiffy all that remained of the army were made acquainted with Mrs. McGavock's order for a live Yankee. The Colonel soon succeeded in capturing one and marched him to the McGavock mansion, without the least idea of what use his trembling prisoner was going to be put. Mrs. McGavock eyed him closely for an instant when he was ushered into her presence and relieved everybody's feelings by inquiring of him; "Can you peel potatoes?" The Yankee gleefully told her he could. "Then come to the kitchen with me" was her next command. "Your people are trying to kill all of our boys and those who survive the day will want something to eat to-night. My cellar is full of potatoes, and you can begin now and peel on them until night comes. Then you can help me cook them. You have freed all of our negroes and now that you are in my power I will make you do the work my slaves would do but for the conduct of your sort of people" And the Colonel says the way that Yankee shed his coat and got down to peeling potatoes would have distanced the modern machine used for that purpose--St. Louis Republic.   
Carnton

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