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This Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 CST Battle of Franklin preservationists and enthusiasts will gather at the site of the Carter cotton gin site behind the Domino’s to celebrate the official purchase of the Domino’s and strip mall property where the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin was fought.

I’ve blogged on this many times.

Speakers at the ceremony include Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer, Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, Caroll Van West co-chairman of the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission, Franklin’s Charge member Julian Bibb and Battle of Franklin Trust Historian Eric Jacobson.

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This Google map below shows the strip mall area in relation to the original troop placements.

This Google map is accessible at www.FranklinBattlefield.com

This Google map is accessible at http://www.FranklinBattlefield.com

Capt. William F. Gibson, Co I, 8th Arkansas Infantry

A descendant of William F. Gibson sent me this picture of the Arkansas Confederate who served in Govan’s Brigade, Cleburne’s Division while at Franklin. The 8th Arkansas Infantry fought near the Cotton Gin.

According to family records and post-war accounts, Gibson was carrying the colors of the 8th Arkansas when the Confederate assault upon the Cotton Gin took place.  He was shot through the face with a ball, and in the stomach.  Lying on the field, and bleeding to death, a Union soldier noticed the wounded Confederate and was apparently going to finish him off when another Union soldier noticed Gibson was wearing a Masonic pin [see pic of an 1863 Masonic pin]. Despite being enemies on the field their Masonic fraternity rose beyond the blood of the battlefield.

The nearly fatally wounded Gibson was allowed to be carried to a local resident’s home, the Cummins’ – whose house was used as a civilian post-battle hospital. A local resident named Laura attended to Gibson and saved his life.  Mrs. Lucy Cummins attempted to disguise the Confederate soldier from Arkansas who wanted to escape from Franklin and take his chances of recovering further south.

However, his flight to Columbia took place the same time the Federal Army came back through Franklin in mid December as they were chasing Hood’s whipped Army of Tennessee that had just been decimated at Franklin and Nashville (Dec 15-16, 1864).  Gibson was captured and sent to Camp Chase in Ohio as a Union prisoner of war.

Gibson survived the war and moved back to Arkansas where he died in 1907. There is a lot more to this story. Stay tuned.

The Cummins’ home

The 104th Ohio Infantry was placed right beside the Carter cotton gin at the Battle of Franklin.  The men in that area of the field saw some of the most horrific and intense fighting during the battle. One Union soldier in the 104th Ohio, who survived the battle, wrote a vivid detail of the action from his point of view.

“These rebel boys were ordered to advance and were led upon a death as certain and sure to be met with, as there was a God in Heaven. Right into the fury of a foe mostly concealed from their view and worthy of their valor,” Adam Weaver wrote.

“The shells from our rifled cannons located north of town, tore dreadful gaps, in the ranks of the rebels, with only the visible effects of causing them to close up the openings and press ever forward.”

The “shells from our cannons located north of town” were no doubt coming from the guns of Fort Granger on Figuer’s Bluff, just north of the Harpeth River.

Source for Weaver quote

Mary Pearce, Robert Hicks, Julian Bibb

Franklin’s Charge announced this morning (10:30 CST) that they have met the goal of raising $500,000 in matching private funds that was established by the Civil War Trust back in December. This means that the total amount of $1.8 million needed to purchase the strip center anchored by Domino’s Pizza on Columbia Avenue has either been raised, pledged, or secured. The final piece of the funds is the State grant of $960,000 that was awarded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation in 2010.

Mike Grainger, Civil War Trust

Mike Grainger, who serves as vice chair of the Civil War Trust said, “To have conceived this park in the first place, and to have acquired several other parcels surrounding the strip center is great. We have seen the work that Franklin’s Charge has done in the past, and we were confident that the group could achieve the goal.”

The goal Grainger refers to is a robust one.  Plans are for the Carter Cotton Gin Interpretive Park to be constructed on the exact ground on which it originally stood in 1864, when the Battle of Franklin took place (30 November 1864). The park will include a replicated cotton gin based on the detailed designs by the Carter family, as well as a partial replication of the original Federal earthworks on the site.

Historians like Eric Jacobson have long-tenuated that the fighting that took place between Confederates and Federal units on this exact land during the battle was some of the fiercest ever waged in the Civil War. Much of the fighting took place at night, in hand-to-hand combat, and the outcome was in doubt to the very last hours of the action.  Confederate Generals Patrick Cleburne and John Adams fell mortally wounded within sight of the original cotton gin. There were nearly 10,000 total casualties within five hours at Franklin.

The original Carter Cotton Gin

Julian Bibb, a local attorney with Stite’s and Harbison and founding board member of Franklin’s Charge places this preservation project in its proper context, “We’ve gone from being known as one of America’s most threatened battlefields to a national model for battlefield preservation in less than a decade, thanks to the help of some incredible partners and supporters. This project will be the centerpiece of a greatly enhanced Civil War offering when we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin in 2012.”

This is part one in a series on the Carter Cotton Gin Interpretive Park. Check back for more posts soon. Future posts will include more pictures and video of the news conference held today.

Previous posts regarding Franklin battlefield preservation efforts:

Keywords for this blogpost:

Franklin, Tennessee | The Battle of Franklin | Carter Cotton Gin | Historical preservation | Civil War Trust | Franklin’s Charge

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Kraig McNutt is the author and publisher of this blog. He has been blogging on Franklin for over five years and on the Civil War in general since 1995. Email him.

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Summary of the Battle of Franklin

The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864 in Franklin, Tennessee; in Williamson County. John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee (around 33,000 men) faced off with John M. Schofield's Army of the Ohio and the Cumberland (around 30,000 men). Often cited as "the bloodiest five hours" during the American Civil War, the Confederates lost between 6,500 - 7,500 men, with 1,750 dead. The Federals lost around 2,000 - 2,500 men, with just 250 or less killed. Hood lost 30,000 men in just six months (from July 1864 until December 15). The Battle of Franklin was fought mostly at night. Several Confederate Generals were killed, including Patrick Cleburne, and the Rebels also lost 50% of their field commanders. Hood would limp into Nashville two weeks later before suffering his final defeat before retreating to Pulaski in mid December. Hundreds of wounded Confederate soldiers were taken to the John and Carrie McGavock home - Carnton - after the battle. She became known as the Widow of the South. The McGavock's eventually donated two acres to inter the Confederate dead. Almost 1,500 Rebel soldiers are buried in McGavock Confederate Cemetery, just in view of the Carnton house.

Make sure to check-out the Google Map of the Franklin Civil War Guide.
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