Carnton Plantation is located in Franklin, Tennessee. The sprawling farm and its buildings played an important role during and immediately after the Battle of Franklin during the American Civil War.
Portrait of the Battle of Franklin
John McGavock was 46 when the Civil War began and was too old to enlist, but he helped outfit and organize groups of Southern soldiers. Carrie contributed to the war effort by sewing uniforms for relatives and friends. As the war got closer to home, John McGavock sent most of his slaves to Louisiana so they wouldn’t be taken by Federal authorities. When Federal troops took control of Middle Tennessee, and learned of the McGavocks’ efforts to aid the South, they took thousands of dollars of grain, horses, cattle and timber from the plantation.
On November 30, 1864, Carnton became the largest temporary field hospital for tending the wounded and dying after the Battle of Franklin. The home was situated less than one mile from the location of the activity that took place on the far Union Eastern flank. More than 1,750 Confederates lost their lives at Franklin, and on Carnton’s back porch four Confederate generals’ bodies—Patrick Cleburne, John Adams, Otho F. Strahl, and Hiram B. Granbury—were laid out for a few hours after the battle.
The McGavocks tended for as many as 300 soldiers inside Carnton alone, though at least 150 died the first night. Hundreds more were spread throughout the rest of the property, including in the slave cabins. Carrie McGavock donated food, clothing and supplies to care for the wounded and dying, and witnesses say her dress was blood soaked at the bottom. Carrie’s two children, Hattie (then nine) and son Winder (then seven) witnessed the carnage as well, providing some basic assistance to the surgeons.
After the battle, on December 1, Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield evacuated toward Nashville, leaving all the dead, including several hundred Union soldiers, and the wounded who were unable to walk as well. The residents of Franklin were then faced with the task of burying over 2,500 soldiers, most of those being Confederates.
Photographs of slave quarters below:
To the northwest of the house on a 2-acre section of the plantation is the McGavock Confederate Cemetery, the largest privately owned military cemetery in the United States. Donated by the McGavock family as a permanent burial ground for the soldiers killed in the Battle of Franklin, the cemetery is organized by state resulting in thirteen sections separated by a 14-foot pathway. The cemetery is maintained by The Franklin Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Photographs of McGavock Confederate Cemetery below: