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Historic Carnton Plantation

Melissa and I took advantage of a lovely late spring day this Sunday to do a tour of Carnton Plantation, one of 43 local Civil War/War Between the States hospitals from the bloody Battle of Franklin which took place Nov. 30, 1864 just a few miles up the road from our farm. The plantation itself along with it’s owners, John and Carrie McGavock have been popularized in the best selling novel “Widow of the South” written by Robert Hicks. Although I am not normally a fan of war novels, or war memorabilia of any type, I quite enjoyed this read; perhaps more so because of the insight it helped provide into some very prominent local history. After many years (!) of driving past this edifice several times a week enroute to downtown Franklin I’m glad we finally took the time to stop.

Front of the Carnton Plantation House; note the portion of the rear two-story porch you can see to the left. It is longer than the house and designed to catch the breeze.

The Carnton house became the largest field hospital during the Battle of Franklin which took place on November 30, 1864. The Battle of Franklin is called the bloodiest hours of the Civil War. In a battle that lasted approximately five hours (4pm – 9pm) the results were catastrophic and more than 10,000 soldiers in total were counted as dead, missing, or mortally wounded. Included among the body count were six Generals (5 Confederate Generals, 1 Union General).

The back of the house has the two story porch. The windows on the second floor actually open as doors onto the porch.

Since much of the fighting took place around the Carnton Plantation’s grounds it was only natural that it become the sight of a field hospital. By the end of the fighting that day more than 700 soldiers were being worked on in and around the house. All of the furniture was removed or pushed back to the walls. The dining room table was used as an operating table, and the interior doors were removed from their hinges and also used as operating tables. To this day the deeply ingrained blood stains are still seen on the floors throughout the house. The walls were also covered in blood but paint and wallpaper are able to cover these stains. It was certainly an interesting afternoon learning about a dark period in our local history.

The McGavock family, which built and owned the Carnton Plantation, took it upon themselves to gather and bury the dead Confederate soldiers. In total they gathered and buried 1,496 soldiers on their property.

Jason standing between the cemetery rows. Most of the large markers are not for individuals. They are monuments for each state that reflect the total number of soldiers from that state buried in McGavock Confederate Cemetery. It is the nation’s largest private military cemetery. Carrie McGavock kept a detailed cemetery journal with the the names and any information she had about the soldiers buried there. For approximately 30 years until their deaths, the McGavocks welcomed veterans who returned to Franklin as well as the families of soldiers who were buried in the cemetery. Carrie and John McGavock maintained the cemetery on their own until they died.

****************************************************** Yesterday we enjoyed our first real rain in over three weeks. Despite receiving nearly three inches of rain in less than twelve hours there was next to no mud at chore time this morning. I say next to no mud because I did notice that several of the horses were sporting another “coat” as we fed them. It would seem that just like people, some horses naturally stay clean in most any conditions while others attract dirt like water attracts ducks. Having belonged to the latter group my entire life, I can empathize.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend !

Levendi, Apollo, Thomas, Trigger and Dustin

As I said when I posted this picture on our Facebook page, apparently Harmony and Cuffie stayed out too late the night before!

Alex, B-Rad and Ogie grazing in the shade

Cuff Links and Lily

Clay, Lightening, Teddy and O’Reilly



Trigger and Baby behind the fence; Lucky, Clay, Lightening and Snappy in front

Lucky and O’Reilly


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