|"On the Rim of the Volcano" by Keith Rocco.|
Fought 150 years ago today, the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee was an all-consuming struggle that is frequently overlooked within broader context of the American Civil War. Over the course of that day, some 60,000 Federals and Confederates became embroiled in a lethal confrontation that all but destroyed General John Bell Hood's Confederate Army of the Tennessee. The stage for battle here was set resulting from a deadly match of cat and mouse between Hood and his Union opponent, John Schofield. After failing to annihilate Union forces at the nearby Battle of Spring Hill the day prior, Hood (who was pained by his many war wounds), became all the more determined to crush the opposition before it reached the bastion of Nashville. The result was a series of devastating southern assaults on entrenched Union positions outside the sleepy town of Franklin.
Historian Eric Jacobson explains the lead up to the battle.
|The Carter House--still bearing the scars of battle 150 years later.|
Eric Jacobson discusses the brutal nature of close quarters combat at the Carter House.
For those fortunate enough to survive the battle's wrath, the level of carnage surrounding them seemed incomprehensible. The Carter Family, whose modest brick home had been at the epicenter of the fighting, cautiously emerged from their cellar to witness the smoldering landscape. Their home and surrounding dwellings were riddled with shot and shell. Windows were broken. Blood was smeared upon the floors. Yet the family had survived the maelstrom unscathed.
|Capt. Tod Carter|
The catastrophic situation of the moment was immediately apparent to the surviving Confederate high command. Corps commander General Frank Cheatam was plagued by the sight of the battlefield as the morning sun of December 1, 1864 crept over the far horizon. Burial crews began their daunting and morbid task of recovering the dead. Among the deceased was General Patrick Cleburne--often called "Stonewall of the West"--who was robbed of his personal belongs after death. Cheatam remarked of this apocalyptic vista:
"Just at daybreak I rode upon the field, and such a sight I never saw and can never expect to see again. The dead were piled up like stacks of wheat or scattered like sheaves of grain. You could have walked all over the field upon dead bodies without stepping upon the ground. The first flame of battle had nearly all been confined within a range of fifty yards, except the cavalry fight on the other side of the river. Almost under your eye, nearly all the dead, wounded and dying lay. In front of the Carter House the bodies lay in heaps, and to the right of it a locust-thicket had been mowed off by bullets, as if by a scythe. It was a wonder that any man escaped alive. . . . I never saw anything like that field, and never want to again."
|An outbuilding at the Carter House is pocked with bullet holes still.|
|A scarred chair in the Carter Home speaks of the fight's ferocity.|
|Remnants of the original Union trenches at the Carter House remain.|
|The recently reclaimed spot marking General Cleburne's death.|
|Carnton Plantation--the iconic home of "The Widow of the South."|
|Dark blood stains remain on the floorboards of Carnton.|
One Confederate officer remarked of the scene at Carnton: "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." As this chaos ensued, resident Carrie McGavock struggled to provide care and comfort for the distressed masses that huddled within her once grand homestead.