Carnton guide Michelle Place talks about the McGavock’s of Franklin, TN, circa 1860

John and Carrie McGavock owned the Carnton plantation or farm in Franklin, Tennessee, at the time of the Battle of Franklin. Carnton guide, historian and best-selling author, Michelle Place, tells us about the McGavocks and their farm, circa 1860s.

The McGavock home – Carnton – in Franklin, Tennessee.

Caring for the wounded and dying after the battle

Franklin, Tennessee, probably only had a population between 2,000 residents in 1864. That includes children. The Battle of Franklin resulted in up to 10,000 casualties: killed, wounded, missing, etc.  Franklin residents banded together on the morning of December 1st, 1864, and opened their homes, churches and businesses to tend to the incredible suffering and carnage. One of those homes was that of John and Carrie McGavock.

Historian Eric Jacobson recounts that challenge in this video.

Also: see this video of Dr. Chris Lossom talk about the carnage after the battle too.

Carnton Plantation, historic home in Franklin

“The Carnton Plantation is a historic house museum located in Franklin. Randal McGavock (1768-1843), builder of Carnton, emigrated from Virginia in 1796 and settled in Nashville. He was involved in local and state politics and eventually served as mayor of Nashville, 1824-25. Around 1826 McGavock moved his family to the recently completed Carnton to farm and raise thoroughbred horses until his death in 1843. After his death, his son John inherited the plantation and continued to farm the land until his own death in 1893. The McGavocks grew wheat, corn, oats, hay, and potatoes, in addition to raising thoroughbred horses.

Randal McGavock named his property after his father’s birthplace in County Antrim, Ireland. The Federal-style plantation house became a social and political center where McGavock entertained Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk and presided over an estate that grew to 1,420 acres. For many years the main house was joined to the smokehouse by a two-story “wing,” that was actually the first structure on the site (ca. 1815). The “wing” was damaged by a tornado in 1909 and torn away soon after, though its outline remains clearly visible on the wall of the house.

In 1847 John McGavock added a two-story Greek Revival portico and two dormers in the attic just prior to his 1848 marriage to his cousin, Carrie Winder of Ducros Plantation in Louisiana. A few years later, the couple added a two-story porch onto the rear of the house, which extended at one end to take advantage of southerly breezes. The interior was also updated in the 1850s, with the addition of fashionable wallpapers, carpets, and paint. The central passage now appears much as it did during the Civil War years, with restored paint colors and an original wallpaper pattern reproduced from a fragment that remains in place at the top of the stairs. The parlor was upgraded by adding a Greek Revival mantel, new wallpaper, and wall-to-wall carpeting.”

Citation source: The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (online)

If you plan to visit Carnton you need to know:
Call 615-794-0903 to verify information before visiting

Monday to Saturday
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
1:00-5:00 p.m.

John and Carrie McGavock describe the scene at Carnton after the Battle of Franklin.

John and Carrie McGavock describe the scene at Carnton after the Battle of Franklin.

‘Every room was filled, every bed had two poor, bleeding fellows, every spare space, niche, and corner under the stairs, in the hall, everywhere. And when the noble old house could hold no more, the yard was appropriated until the wounded and dead filled that.’

‘Our doctors were deficient in bandages and [Carrie McGavock] began by giving her old linen, then her towels and napkins, then her sheets and tableclothes, then her husband’s shirts and her own undergarments. … Unaffrighted by the sight of blood, unawed by horrid wounds, unblanched by ghastly death, she walked from room to room, from man to man, her very skirts stained in blood.’

Carnton is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

Visit their web site for more info.