Day 38-40 – Nashville, Tennessee   Leave a comment

The short drive to Nashville, Tennessee was uneventful. We like days like this!

We began our touring day at Winstead Hill. The crest of Winstead Hill rises approximately 200 feet above downtown Franklin and is located two miles to the south. Because of its exceptional location and vantage from the south, the hill served as a command and observation post for the Confederate Armies during the Battle of Franklin in 1864.

Confederate General John Bell Hood led the Army of Tennessee towards the middle Tennessee area with intentions to join Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. While Hood was camped near this site south of Franklin, Maj. General John M. Schofield slipped Union troops past Confederate forces during the night, joining a well supplied Fort Granger on the north banks of the Harpeth River.

Gen. Hood (against the advice of his subordinate generals) gathered the Army of Tennessee’s 20,000 soldiers for an attack upon the Union camp beginning in midafternoon. Observing from the vantage point atop Winstead Hill, Gen. Hood witnessed 13 assaults lasting 9 hours. Union troops withdrew across the Harpeth River and retreated towards Nashville.

Although the Union troops retreated in defeat at this battle, the results of this confrontation were anything but a victory for the Confederacy. The Army of Tennessee lost nearly a third of its forces as Gen. Hood witnessed 6,261 wounded and killed soldiers. Gen. Schofield’s troops sustained only 2,326 fatalities out of 22,000 soldiers. Hood also lost 15 allied generals in the Battle of Franklin including 8 wounded, 6 killed, and 1 taken captive. The Battle of Franklin was a turning point in the Civil War, as a substantial threat to the security of Washington, D.C. vanished in this loss of Confederate manpower. The Battle of Nashville two weeks later culminated the loss of hope for the South.

Fort Granger’s ‘Sally Port’ was built on a steep limestone cliff overlooking the Harpeth River, which was deemed inaccessible and safe. Persons wishing to enter the fort had to cross Liberty Pike and ascend a gentle slope, affording an extensive field of view to the soldiers inside. It was chosen as the site for the fort also because it held command over the southern and northern approaches to Franklin and held military control over the Harpeth River bridge of the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad.

It was a “little” tight getting to one of our venues. Oops!

We toured the 1858 Lotz House and the 1830 Carter House, both were caught in the middle of the Battle of Franklin. Unfortunately, photos were not permitted inside. The Lotz House was built by a master carpenter and was pretty much destroyed in the Battle of Franklin. Battle scars included the charred, rounded indention in the wood flooring where a cannonball flew through the roof, a second story bedroom, and then landed on the first floor and rolled.

Across the street was the Carter House. Fountain Branch Carter and his wife, Mary, had 12 children, 8 boys and 4 girls, which was highly unusual in those days due to the high rate of childbirth deaths. Their farm grew from 19 acres to 288 acres. In 1860, he was worth $62,000 and owned 28 slaves. In 1861 three of his sons enlisted in the Confederate Army, one of who died in battle, on his own property.

On November 30, 1864, General John Schofield of the Union army positioned his troops behind earthworks on the Southern edge of Franklin. At 4 p.m. General John Bell Hood launched a massive frontal assault on the Union position, an attack which was bigger than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The Carter House was located just inside the center of the Union defensive perimeter. The fighting in the Carter yard quickly became savage and bloody. The battle lasted 5 hours resulting in 2,500 dead, 6,500 wounded, and 1,000 missing. It was a horrible sight of dead bodies in piles. The battle cost the lives of 6 Confederate Generals and 11 Union soldiers were later awarded the Medal of Honor. Below is a picture of one of the outbuildings damaged by gunfire.

F.B. Carter died in 1871 leaving plots of the land to his children, grandchildren and former slaves.

Carnton Plantation was built in 1826 and inherited in 1843 by John McGavock. He married and had 5 children, 3 of who died at early ages. Their home became a field hospital sheltering hundreds of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers. Every inch of the house was used and when it became full, the yard was used. Following the Battle of Franklin, the bodies of Confederate Generals John Adams, Hiram Granbury, Patrick Cleburne, and Otho Strahl were laid out on the back porch as the men of the Tennessee Army paid their respects. The floors in the home to this day are still stained with blood of the men who were treated. Unfortunately, inside photos were not allowed.

Confederate Cemetery, created in 1866, is adjacent to the McGavock Family Cemetery. Following the Battle of Franklin, John McGavock, owner of “Carnton” collected and buried the bodies of 1,496 Confederates. This is the largest private military cemetery in the United States in terms of the number of burials. John and Carrie McGavock maintained the cemetery for the rest of their lives.

The five general officers killed there were interred elsewhere after being brought to the house.

Our final day in Nashville was a “much needed” free day. It gave us time to catch up on some things. Camping World was next to our campground, so we ran over there to pick up a few things and ran into a couple that will be traveling with us to Alaska. IT’S SUCH A SMALL WORLD!

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