WHERE: Franklin, Tennessee – the Carnton Plantation

WHAT: Back in the 1820s, the McGavocks built a home on 1,420 acres in Franklin, Tennessee and called is Carnton (from the word “cairn”, meaning a pile of stones to mark a memorable event). Influential in the area, people such as Andrew Jackson visited. When Mr. McGavock passed away, the plantation was passed down to his son John. At that time John expanded the property making it even more beautiful and noteworthy.

John married Carrie Winder, a Louisiana girl and they went on to have a family. Everything seemed to be going well.

Then, on the afternoon of November 20, 1864, their lives changed.

As  Carrie stood in her yard that day, she watched as 19,000 Tennessee soldiers marched around her house, heading for the center of Franklin where the Federal army of similar size was waiting. The ensuing battle was horrific and hundreds were killed or wounded. Suddenly the genteel country home was an army hospital.

The wounded  in hundreds were brought to Carnton during the Battle and all the night after. Every room was filled, every bed had two poor fellows, every spare space, every niche, and corner under the stairs … (Letter from a Colonel to his wife printed in the Carnton brochure.)

The bodies of the confederate generals were placed on the porch. In letters home, soldiers wrote of the wailing of those in pain and those dying.  Carrie McGavock and her family helped nurse the wounded.

Many of those who died were buried on the property in what is now known as the Confederate Cemetary.  Carrie became keeper of the cemetery, meticulously recording the names of the soldiers who had died and in which tomb they were buried.

SIDEBAR: The guide was well-informed and even pointed us to a website done by the Smithsonian which listed myths told in house museums. For instance, homeowners were NOT taxed for closets something you often hear in old houses.

KID FACTOR: Lots of land/gardens to explore for younger kids. Older kids might find the story of the Carnton home interesting – and there are still blood stains on the floor. But this is not a happy place in that the events of its history are gruesome. If you did take your children, you will need to discuss the circumstances.

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