The Carter House, built in 1830 by Fountain Branch Carter is one of Tennessees most interesting historic landmarks. The Carter House played a crucial role in the Battle of Franklin, early in the day on November 30, 1864 the house was commandeered as the Federal Command Post, and Headquarters tents were placed in the dooryard. The Federal inner entrenchment was dug in line with the farm office and smoke house only 60 feet to the south of the house.As the battle took place, twenty eight people found shelter in the rock-walled basement, including 9 little Carter grandchildren, all under the age of twelve.
Here you can still see today the battle scars from the Battle. In 1951 The Carter House was purchased by Tennessee and restored as a memorial commemorating the Battle of Franklin. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites, and is visited by thousands each year.In the Carter house there were three sons. Mock, Tod, and Wad were three sons of Fountain Branch and Mary Carter who lived at the Carter House.
The parents carefully recorded their names in the Family Bible as Moscow Branch, Theodrick, and Francis Watkins Carter, by the time he reached school, his name was shortened.These sons were among the eight children in the family who reached adulthood. Early 1861 they enlisted in the service of the Confederacy and became members of the famous Twentieth Tennessee Regiment, Volunteer Infantry C.
S.A. Fifteen years earlier Mock served one year as a private in the U.
S. Army in the War with Mexico, and he was first elected Captain of Company H, and then Lt. Colonel of the Regiment. Tod became a Captain, Assistant Quartermaster, and War Correspondent for the Chattanooga Daily Rebel, writing under the name, Mint Julep. Wad, who was only eighteen years and six months of age, was made a Color Guard.Capt.
Tod Carters death is known wherever the story of the Battle of Franklin is known. Probably supreme in the heart-breaking records of war is the story of this soldier who fell, fatally injured, while leading a charge at sunset, not over 175 yards southwest of his home, which he wished to visit once more. Being captured at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, he had escaped, re-joined his Regiment, and had volunteered as an Aide to Gen. Thomas Benton Smith.
He was found on the battlefield at daybreak by members of his own family, who had emerged from their basement shelter, carrying lanterns, had gone in search of him. He was carried into his fathers house, and given medical aid, but died on December 2, at the age of twenty-four, in the house in which he was born, surrounded by his family.The union army, marching northward from Columbia and Spring Hill, reached Franklin very early on the morning of November 30, 1864, and before noon had dug their main line of entrenchments 264 feet south of the Carter House, on either side of the Columbia Turnpike, extending one and one-half miles, from the Lewisburg Pike on the east to Carters Creek pike on the west. Their second line of breastworks was placed 60 feet from the south end of the Carter House, and in line with the smoke-house and office. About two oclock in the afternoon Gen. John B. Hood C.
S.A., commanding the Army of Tennessee, appeared over the crest of Winstead Hill in pursuit, snapping the case of his field glasses as he looked toward the confidently entrenched Union Army two miles away. The battle continued from four in the afternoon until nine that night, with sporadic fighting until midnight, with no light after dark except from the flaming guns. The Carter Smoke house holds scars made by both Union and Confederate Armies.
On its south wall are those made by Confederate minie balls. On its east wall are the peculiar comet-shaped marks made by Union soldiers who stood between the smoke-house and the office about 10-12 feet away, and fired obliquely at the Confederates who had gained control of the outside of the main stockade at locust grove to the southwest. To the west of the smoke-house the Union forces placed a lethal battery of four guns, which could fire over the heads of their infantry, and sweep the approaches in the direction of the Bostick Place to the southwest. Years after the Battle at least 30 minie balls were found under the old shingles of the smoke-house roof.The Carter House Office also riddled by minie balls and one cannon ball during the Battle, and some timbers had to be replaced. Sometime before 1884 the office was removed from its original location beside the smoke-house and set at the end of the ell, and neat the well.
This is where the Blue and Gray veterans found it at the time of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Franklin in 1914. The building had been turned around and the bullet holes which had been made by the Confederates firing from the south were facing the north, much to their consternation! After remaining at the end of the ell for more than 65 years, the office was restored to its original location. Between these two buildings was the garden gate through which Capt. Tod Carter was carried, mortally wounded, early on the morning after the Battle, and into his fathers house. He had been given a pass by his commanding officer to come to Franklin ahead of the Army of Tennessee, and the story is told that he stood at this fate on the morning before the Battle, hoping to have breakfast with his family, but the Union Army had commandeered the Carter House and he could come no further.The Cotton-Gin, which is no longer standing, was a big barn-like structure which stood 80 yards east of the Columbia Pike, and 120 yards to the south of the Carter House.
Its main supporting timber was 40 feet long and 3 feet in width, and cut from a poplar tree which grew not over 400 yards away. Near-by was a Press, powered by a mule that walked in circles, to form cotton into bales for market. The old gin-house is mentioned many times by Gen. Cox in The Battle of Franklin, because of the major role it played as the most advanced salient in the Union Armys main line of defense. Prior to the Battle it was stripped of many timbers which were used as head logs by the Union Army. After the Battle only a skeleton remained. It became the headquarters of Gen.
Jas. W. Reilly U.S.
A. From the south end of the back porch at the Carter House visitors can enter the Family room through a double door. The louvered door has been grazed by a minie ball shot by the Confederates. The union soldier who was almost hit by this bullet obviously kicked in the lower panel of the solid door, so desperate to reach a safer place. In his haste he left his gun standing there by the hinges, and years afterwards he came back to Carter House to claim it. His gun was returned to him by Col. Moscow B.
Carter. The lower panel of the solid door remains patched.In the family room at the Carter House may be seen the old Jerome Clock which ticked dependably on during the Battle of Franklin. After the house was no longer occupied by the Carter Family, it remained for a time in the California home of Pvt. Wad Carter, reminding him of his old home in Tennessee, but long after his death it was returned to the Carter House in time for the opening of the House as shrine, commemorating the Battle, on May 14, 1953.
During the sixty-six years, from 1830 to 1896, three generations of the Carter Family lived at the Carter House. It was owned for forty-one years by Fountain Branch Carter, to whom he left it at his death, in 1871. The initials M.B.C. and F.
F.C. are still visible on the old smoke house door are those of Moscow Branch Carter Jr.
born 1875, and Frank Fair Carter born 1881, two-third generation Carters who lived at the Carter House. They were sons of Col. Moscow Branch, Jr., and grandsons of the builder, Found Branch Carter.
The Carter House was headquarters for Jacob Dolson Cox who was born in Quebec Canada and raised outside of Cincinnati. He and his staff officers proposed in this house until a courier arrived around 2pm suggesting the Confederates were forming for battle; no one really thought the Confederates would fight here. Cox and his staff officers rushed out the front door taking a position on the field.They set up oak barrels in front of all the windows, took doors from the hinges and by putting them on top of the barrels made what might be the first operating tables of the battle. Around sunrise the morning after the battle a 19 year old lady named Susan McQuen noted that the amputated limbs have reached the window seal. They would be wheel barreled to the gutters beside the road to later be placed on a wagon south to be burned our buried. For fourteen hours in the basement huddled 28 terrified civilians by the light of one candle, most of them Carter Family Members, along with two neighboring families.
38 Cannons and 39,000 muskets shaking the house for 5 hours and then the guns became silent and another 9 hours they were trapped under an operating room. Listening to grown men face the fears of amputation.In the basement they had a summer dining room table because it was always cooler down there. They also had beds and sewing equipment. Among the children hiding, 11 year old Or Lena Carter gets to the top of the stair way the next morning and she counts 43 dead Yankee soldiers stacked like firewood on her grandfathers back porch. Her Father Moscow Carter counted 57 dead of both sides, all together one hundred dead Americans in an area that was less than one percent of the Battlefield.
Or Lena lived until she was 69, 3 days before she passed away, she told her granddaughter I Have failed to see the day I did not relive the horror of that battle in my mind. March 24, 1840 Todd Carter was born in the house, December 2, 1864 he dies in the same room he was born. He became conscious twice peering out of his right eye, the only one not swollen shut. He said I recognize you all but its to painful for me to speak. And just before he dies, hes said to of forced a smile and whispered home, home, home. He was a practicing attorney by just the age of 18. The bed he died on is owned by the family in Princeton, Maryland.
60 yards south of the house, a Yankee bullet hits the throat of a confederate Lt. Col. He bled and was wounded so badly he was left for dead. He recovered and went back to Alabama and married and in the late 1880s he and his wife gave birth to Helen Keller.