One of the things I absolutely love about living in Franklin TN is its rich history. Franklin was founded in 1799 and very few people actually know that one of the worst battles in the Civil War was fought here. As a result, you will find several historic exhibits here. Carnton Plantation is Franklin's most famous historic place.
Carnton Plantation was built in 1815 by former Nashville mayor Randal McGavock. At the time, Carnton became one of the premier farms in Williamson County, Tennessee. John McGavock inherited the farm upon his father's death. John married Carrie Elizabeth Winder in 1848 and they had five children, three of whom died at an early age. The surviving children were son, Winder, and daughter, Hattie.
On November 30, 1864, during the Battle of Franklin, Carnton Plantation was used as a field hospital for hundreds of wounded and dying Confederate troops. The Battle of Franklin has become known as one of the bloodiest battles of the entire Civil War. The Confederate Army of Tennessee assaulted the Federal army in the late hours of the night along the southern edge of Franklin. The battle only lasted about 5 hours but nearly 10,000 soldiers were either killed, missing or wounded. Of that number, 7,000 were Confederate soldiers. They filled Carnton with the bodies of the wounded. After the house could no longer accomodate any more injured, the yard was used for the wounded and the dead. The floors of the Carnton Plantation are still stained with the blood of those that were wounded that night.
Two years later, John and Carrie McGavock designated two acres to be used as the final burial place for 1,491 Confederate soldiers. The cemetery was maintained by the McGavocks until their death. Today, the McGavock Confederate Cemetery is the largest privately owned military cemetery in the United States.
Carnton Plantation remained in the McGavock family until 1911 when it was sold by Winder McGavock's widow, Susie. Carnton was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1977, the house and 10 acres, including the cemetery, were donated to the Carnton Association. The house was suffering from years of neglect and disrepair.
The Association was a vital part in the restoration of Carnton Plantation. It continues to maintain the plantation through tours, special events, such as weddings, summer concert series and corporate events, memberships, gift shop sales and generous donations.
Carnton Plantation located at 1345 Carnton Lane in Franklin is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Carnton Plantation in Franklin TN is one exhibit you won't want to miss.
If you are a history buff and would like to read a fictional account of the events that took place at the Carnton Plantation, read Robert Hick's New York Times best selling book, The Widow of the South.