Battle Of Franklin Summary
Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee
November 30, 1864
Union: John M. Schofield
Confederate: John Bell Hood
Union Army: 27,00
Confederate Army: 27,000
In Franklin, Tennessee, a small community about 20 miles south of Nashville, three buildings stand as monuments to five of the bloodiest hours in all of American history. Two witnessed the epicenter of fighting during the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. The third, a Southern mansion southeast of town, was a field hospital; the bodies of four Confederate generals were laid on its porch until they could be taken for burial.
The battle occurred when Lieutenant General John Bell Hood, frustrated that his Confederate Army of Tennessee had let a large Union force escape from Columbia the night before, ordered an all-out frontal assault against the Union fieldworks at Franklin, despite the protests of his subordinate commanders. The Southerners advanced across an open field, enfiladed in places by artillery in Fort Granger across the Harpeth River. Many of their Union opponents were armed with repeaters. Yet, they nearly broke through near the center of the Union line, only to be repulsed.
Some 10,000 Americans died in the five-hour battle, the vast majority of them Confederates. Eyewitness reports say that near the fieldworks some men died standing up, the dead bodies stacked around them too tightly to permit them to fall. More generals were killed than at any other battle of the war.
During the night, the Federals withdrew to Nashville where the fortifications were second only to those around Washington, D.C. Hood pursued and, on December 15–16, Union troops under Major General George H. Thomas attacked the outnumbered Confederates, shattering what remained of their army and forcing it to withdraw to Tupelo, Mississippi. It is often said that the Battle of Nashville was won at Franklin.
Today, the town of Franklin is a poster-child example of Main Street restoration of a historic downtown, its streets lined with boutiques and crowded with tourists. But just a few hundred yards beyond its charming shops stand two witnesses to the carnage that once occurred there.
The Carter House 1140 Columbia Avenue Franklin, TN 37064 (615) 791-1861 Bullet holes are still plainly visible in the walls of the farm office building and the brick home where Fountain Branch Carter, his family and numerous neighbors huddled in the basement while the battle raged overhead. An interpretive center with artifacts and a film about the Battle of Franklin is located behind this 1830 house.
The Lotz House 1111 Columbia Avenue Franklin, TN 37064 (615) 790-7190 Just 110 steps from Carter House is the Lotz House, built in 1858 by German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz, a master carpenter and a piano maker. His home served as his “show house” to demonstrate his carpentry work to potential clients. During the battle he and his family were among those taking shelter in the basement of the brick Carter home. A cannonball crashed through the roof of Lotz’s house and a second-story bedroom before landing and rolling on the first floor, leaving a charred indentation that is still visible. The Lotz House today houses what Wendell Garrett at The Magazine Antiques called, “by far the finest private collection of American Victorian Furniture in the Southeast.”
Carnton Plantation 1345 Carnton Lane Franklin, TN 37064 (615) 794-0903 A few short miles south and east of Franklin, Carnton Plantation stood near where some Confederate units formed up for the assault. As the battle wore on, wounded, combat-shocked men drifted back to the mansion. The lady of the house, Carrie McGavock, opened her home as a hospital. Bloodstains are still visible in places on it floors. In 1866, Mrs. McGavock and her husband, John, gave two acres near their home as a burial ground for nearly 1,500 dead from the battle, including 225 unidentified bodies. Carrie McGavock and Carnton were the inspiration for Robert Hicks’s New York Times bestselling novel, Widow of the South.
Hours of operation: (Carnton Plantation, The Carter House and Lotz House) Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday Noon – 5 p.m. Closed most major holidays.
For more information, see www.battleoffranklintrust.org.
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