Franklin , Tennessee – April 5, 2010 – The Battle of Franklin Trust Board of Directors Chairman Marianne Schroer announced today a ceremony and dedication is set for Saturday, April 17th to formally open the recaptured tract of land that served as the garden for the Carter family and witnessed some of the most horrific fighting of the November 30, 1864, Battle of Franklin. The public is invited to attend this free event which will be held from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
In making the announcement, Schroer said, “In recent years, Franklin was once listed as one of the top ten most endangered battlefields of the Civil War by the Civil War Preservation Trust. Our city has worked hard to recapture as much of the battlefield as we can to preserve and interpret its history. Opening the Carter House Garden is a significant step in the Trust’s commitment to preserve this hallowed ground.” The Program:
Participants in the program will include Schroer, The Carter House Board of Directors member Gene McNeil, Battle of Franklin Historian Thomas Cartwright and Battle of Franklin Trust Operations Director and historian Eric Jacobson.
Guests will be invited to help seed the property in an effort to feed the land and to symbolically initiate the further growth of the Battle of Franklin Trust and its mission.
The Carter House History:
The Carter House, built in 1830 by Fountain Branch Carter, witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War on November 30, 1864. This Registered Historic Landmark has been open to the public since 1953 and serves as a memorial to the Carter Family, as well as the countless heroes of the Battle of Franklin.
During the five hours of fighting, the Carter Family took refuge in their basement. Twenty-three men, women and children (many under the age of twelve) were safely protected while the horrible cries of war rang out above them. The head of the family, Fountain Branch Carter, a 67-year old widower, had seen three of his sons fight for the Confederacy. One son, Theodrick (Tod), was serving as an aid for General T.B. Smith on the battlefield and saw his home for the first time in three-plus years. Crying out, “Follow me boys, I’m almost home,” Captain Tod Carter was mortally wounded and died two days later at the Carter House.
The Significance of The Carter House Garden:
The Carter House Garden consists of approximately a half acre and is located directly behind the historic Carter House. The garden was originally two acres.
Eric Jacobson said, “The significance of the western edge of the Carter garden cannot be overestimated. Around 4:30 p.m. on November 30, 1864, elements of Gen. John Brown’s Confederate Division ripped through the main Federal line of defense west of Columbia Pike. Among the units forced to withdraw was the 72 nd Illinois Infantry, which held the section of the line which cuts through the garden property. The Illinois troops fell back to a reserve line held by the 44 th Missouri Infantry. Only a firm stand by the Missourians prevented Brown’s troops from collapsing more of the Federal defensive position. The garden property was enveloped by a hail of relentless fire for hours and three separate charges made by Federal troops to retake the main line were unsuccessful. The Confederates held the outside of the main line until they started to withdraw around 9 p.m.”
From 1997 until 2008, Thomas Cartwright served as Executive Director of The Carter House and worked diligently to secure funding to reclaim the property. At one time, the property included a house, swimming pool, and a trailer.
Through Cartwright’s efforts along with The Carter House Association and the Civil War Preservation Trust, approximately $235,000 in funding was raised to clear the land and preserve it as an open area in reverence to the soldiers who fought and died on the property.
Thomas Cartwright frequently appears on various documentaries for the History Channel, A&E, Travel Channel, CNN, Discovery, and Preservation Channel. For many years, he has lectured throughout most of the United States for Civil War Round Tables, corporations, preservation groups and heritage organizations. He currently conducts walking tours of the battlefield from the Lotz House located across the street from The Carter House.
The Public Is Invited:
The public is invited to the free event which will begin at 1:00 p.m. at The Carter House located at 1140 Columbia Avenue . Free parking is available in the gravel parking lot adjacent to the house.
Prior to the garden ceremony from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., author Ruth Hill McAllister will host a book signing from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. of C. “Aytch” First Tennessee Regiment, or a Side Show of the Big Show by Sam R. Watkins, edited by Ruth Hill Fulton McAllister ( Franklin , TN : Providence House Publishers, 2007).
“The Battle of Franklin Trust is a 501 (c) (3) management corporation acting on behalf of Franklin ’s battlefield sites to contribute to a greater understanding and enrich the visitor experience of the November 30, 1864 battle. It’s organized for the charitable and educational purposes of preserving, restoring, maintaining and interpreting the properties, artifacts and documents related to the battle so as to preserve an important part of the nation’s history. Learn more at http://www.battleoffranklintrust.org .”