Monday, December 1, 2008

Battle of Franklin (Part 2/2): Carnton Plantation

We return to the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin with a visit to the Carnton Plantation. Located in Franklin, Tennessee and just over a mile from the Carter House, this house was the home of a former mayor of nearby-Nashville, Randal McGavock, and his wife, Carrie. It was the site of great despair and grief even prior to the Civil War after three of the McGavock's children suffered a prolonged illness at an early age that eventually claimed their lives. When the Battle of Franklin came to town on November 30, 1864, the house and family would play a major role - Not in the battle itself, but during the aftermath.

It has been said that after losing her three children, Carrie McGavock spiraled into a deep depression and withdrew from the world. She would again find a purpose during the Civil War battle when wounded soldiers were quite literally brought to her doorstep. Reportedly in the heart of battle, there were so many injured soldiers brought to the Carnton Plantation that the wounded lined the house from top to bottom, as well as other buildings on the property, and more lined the property outside. Reportedly, the corpses of five Confederate Generals lined the porch as they awaited burial.

By all accounts, the family did everything they could do to assist the wounded from both the Union and Confederate side. After the doctors ran low of bandages, Carrie McGavock freely offered the family's towels and napkins. When they ran low, she supplied sheets, tablecloths, clothes, and even her own undergarments to patch up the wounds. Through her efforts and her subsequent mourning over the loss of lives, she earned the nickname of "The Widow of the South" and influenced a historical fiction novel by the same name from author Robert Hicks 141 years later.

McGavock emerged from her grief in 1866 when her and her husband decided to donate two-acres of the family's property to a proper Confederate cemetery. They even went so far as to actively raise money and take part in exhuming the over-1,500 soldiers that were buried on their property, as well as nearby-properties, and place them in proper graves. Today the cemetery is known as the McGavock Confederate Cemetery and sits adjacent to the house.

The house has since been turned into a museum that explores its historical past and is reportedly the site of paranormal activity. Ghosts of all genders and ages have been sited on the property and the sounds of the wounded are said to still occasionally echo from nowhere. It is even said that the ghost of a Confederate General is often seen by tourists to the property pacing back and forth on the porch outside.

Visit the makeshift Civil War hospital and read more on its ghostly past.

-Casey H.

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