Carnton Plantation and Carter House are two houses in Franklin that are still standing today after withstanding what have become known as five of the bloodiest hours of the Civil War during the Battle of Franklin. These homes still show visible signs of the battle fought around them and serve as a memorial to those who fought and lost lives during such a monumental time in our country’s history.
Carnton Plantation was the home of the 11th Mayor of Nashville Randal McGavock. McGavock was a close friend of 7th U.S. President Andrew Jackson (whose home we learned about last week) who spent much time at Carnton during their years of friendship.
McGavock named his plantation after his Irish ancestry and built a mansion–according to standards of the time–in 1826 for himself and his family. Upon his death in 1843, his eldest son John inherited the plantation.
Carnton served as the largest field hospital in the area during and after the Battle of Franklin, attending to hundreds of dying and wounded Confederate soldiers, the blood of whom still stains the floorboards at Carnton to this day.
In 1866, John McGavock, along with his wife Carrie, designated two acres of their land on the plantation for the nearly 1,500 soldiers that were killed during the battle. Today, the McGavock Confederate Cometary still stands as a stark reminder of the lives lost and a memorial for those individuals. It is the largest privately owned military cemetery in the U.S.
The Carnton Plantation remained in the McGavock family until 1911, when it was sold. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and today, the property is restored and maintained through daily tours, gift shop sales, special events and donations.
In 1830, a man named Fountain Branch Carter built a home – The Carter House – about a mile west of the Carnton Plantation. Carter was a wealthy man who earned his money farming and being a merchant, surveyor and cotton gin operator.
Carter House, along with Carnton, witness one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War on Nov. 30, 1864. The Battle of Franklin is said to be one of the bloodiest five hours of the entire war and over 1,000 bullet homes still show on the exterior of the house today.
The brick Carter house was used as a Federal Command Post while the Cater family sought refuge in the cellar. The house was purchased by the state of Tennessee in 1953 and today is managed by the Battle of Franklin Trust, along with Carnton Plantation. It was registered as a Historic Landmark in 1953 and been open to the public since that time.
Tours are given daily for both Carnton Plantation and the Carter House, as well as eight-acres of preserved battlefield that surround them. For more information about both, visit www.carnton.org.