Ulysses: Looking at the stately Federal
facade of the Carter House nestled within a shady grove of ancient
trees beside a small two-lane road near the historic district of
Franklin, Tennessee, you would never guess this quiet home was once
the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
Battle of Franklin:
November 30, 1864, General John Bell Hood, C.S.A. attacked the Federal
army commanded by Major General John Schofield. The Federal troops
were entrenched behind fortifications that ringed Franklin. This
small town lay only twenty miles south of Nashville, the target
of Schofield's advance. Photo: Carter House.
In the mid-afternoon, Hood sent his poorly-equipped
and underfed Confederates across two miles of open fields against
the Union front. The Carter House sat directly in the center between
the two lines of battle. 23,000 Rebels met 28,000 Federal soldiers
in headlong combat.
Carter family, including thirteen children, took refuge in the stone
cellar under the house as the maelstrom raged over their heads.
Federal soldiers used the front bedroom and parlor as sniping positions
while they fired their muskets at the enemy, who returned fire from
the far side of the barn and icehouse. Not one brick in the south
wall of the kitchen escaped a bullet hole. Photo:
Carter House. You can see the small window in the stone basement
where the family hid during the battle. The window was blocked up
with pieces of firewood during the fight.
Robert E.: Twice Yankee soldiers tried to
invade the Carter family's safe haven in the cellar and were twice
repulsed by old Mr. Carter. The children spent the five hours of
the engagement hiding behind barrels of flour and other supplies
at the far end of the cellar.
Ulysses: I do not blame the soldiers for
seeking a safe place out of the hail of bullets. The battle took
a fearful toll. At 9 p.m., when General Hood gave the order to disengage
the attack, the Confederates had lost over 6,250 men including six
generals killed-- the highest number of generals ever lost in a
single battle. One of the Southern casualties was Captain Tod Carter,
eldest son of the beleaguered household. He died in his own bed
two days after the fight. The Union casualties were a little over
Carter House stands as a mute testimony to the ferociousness of
warfare. Over 1,000 bullet holes are still plainly visible in the
walls of the main house, the kitchen, the barn, and the store house.
Carter House has the dubious distinction of being the most bullet-riddled
building still standing in the United States.
Signing -- The Carter House Museum:
E.: Unlike that cold November afternoon, Carter House was warm and
peaceful on July 15 when a book signing for Mary was hosted by museum
director Thomas Cartwright and the Carter House staff.
Period Songs by
Paul and Kim Caudell:
people came, including Paul and Kim Caudell, two musicians who specialize
in period songs. They arrived wearing clothing from the 1860's.
the two hours of the book signing, Paul and Kim regaled the visitors
with lively camp songs and tender ballads of the period, including
one they wrote titled, "Last Letter Home." This song is based on
a real letter displayed in the Carter House Museum. Photo: Paul
Caudell on guitar and Kim on the fiddle playing inside the Carter
House Museum (left), Kim and Paul Caudell in a period pose (right).
E. Makes a Friend:
Kim took a shine to Robert E. He always could catch a lady's eye.
She was so pleased when Mary presented one
of Robert E.'s brothers to her.
Photo: Kim and Paul
in a period pose. Kim holding Robert E. She is supposed to be looking
serious, but she is so happy with Robert E. that a smile creeps
across her face.
Stop -- Kentucky!
After a very pleasant afternoon at Carter House, we packed up the
car again and drove north into Kentucky.
Abe: Next time, it will be my pleasure to
tell you what we did there.
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