Carnton Plantation

On the heels of reading the Widow of the South, I would like to plan a trip to the Carnton Plantation in February.

Carnton was built in 1826 by former Nashville mayor Randal McGavock [masked]). Throughout the nineteenth century it was frequently visited by those shaping Tennessee and American history, including President Andrew Jackson. Carnton grew to become one of the premier farms in Williamson County, Tennessee. Randal McGavock’s son John [masked]) inherited the farm upon his father’s death. John McGavock married Carrie Elizabeth Winder [masked]) in December 1848 and they had five children during the subsequent years, three of whom died at young ages - Martha [masked]); Mary Elizabeth [masked]); and John Randal (1854). The surviving children, Winder [masked]) and Hattie [masked]), are pictured (left) circa 1865.

Beginning at 4 p.m. on November 30, 1864, Carnton was witness to one of the bloodiest battles of the entire Civil War. Everything the McGavock family ever knew was forever changed. The Confederate Army of Tennessee furiously assaulted the Federal army entrenched along the southern edge of Franklin. The resulting battle, believed to be the bloodiest five hours of the Civil War, involved a massive frontal assault larger than Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. The majority of the combat occurred in the dark and at close quarters. The Battle of Franklin lasted barely five hours and led to some 9,500 soldiers being killed, wounded, captured, or counted as missing. Nearly 7,000 of that number were Confederate troops. Carnton served as the largest field hospital in the area for hundreds of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers

A staff officer later wrote that "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...."

On the morning of December 1, 1864 the bodies of four Confederate generals killed during the fighting, Patrick R. Cleburne, Hiram B. Granbury, John Adams, and Otho F. Strahl, lay on Carnton’s back porch. The floors of the restored home are still stained with the blood of the men who were treated here.

In early 1866, John and Carrie McGavock designated two acres of land adjacent to their family cemetery as a final burial place for nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Franklin. The McGavocks maintained the cemetery until their respective deaths.

Today, the McGavock Confederate Cemetery is a lasting memorial honoring those fallen soldiers and the Battle of Franklin. It is the largest privately owned military cemetery in the nation.

The McGavock family owned Carnton until 1911 when Susie Lee McGavock, widow of Winder McGavock, sold it. In 1973 Carnton was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1977 the house and ten acres were donated to the Carnton Association, Inc. by Dr. W. D. Sugg. By that time the house had suffered from years of neglect and disrepair and since then the Association has been vital in restoring and maintaining the plantation through tours, gift shop sales, membership, special events, and generous donations.

 

For more details, visit their website.  http://www.carnton.org/

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  • Larry V.

    I had a tour of Carnton Plantation last year with a group from the Y. We had an excellent tour guide and it was very educational. I had no idea what a major battle it was.

    May 13, 2013

  • Jim

    A fine afternoon was filled with interesting topics, people and history. The house and grounds are well restored and nicely maintained. The story of the family and events really held our attention.

    May 5, 2013

  • phyllis

    Don't think I can make it this time! I was really looking forward to going but inlaws are in from Iowa. Will you postpone if there is rain?

    May 2, 2013

  • Jim

    I look forward to the continuation of our history meetup group now that Nan must move to Atlanta to help her mom. Lets meet outside the entrance to the ticket office at 1:30 and introduce ourselves. I'll wear my red billed "Music City Honor Flight" cap since I'm going to the WW2 memorial in Washington DC on May 8th. The house and grounds of Carnton promise us a great deal of local historical detail and interest. Please bring along your Civil War era stories to share, I want to hear them!

    April 30, 2013

  • Amy P

    I'm going to be out of town this weekend, so I'm afraid I have to cancel. Sorry to miss it!

    April 29, 2013

  • Wanda

    Great book, that one! I've been to Carnton...very interesting place.

    March 6, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I started the book and found it very interesting and historically accurate.

      March 10, 2013

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