If you ever find yourself in Nashville I highly recommend the Civil War tour offered by Grayline. On this tour you have the opportunity to learn about the Battle of Franklin (known as the five bloodiest hours of the Civil War) at three different heritage sites: Carter House, Lotz House, and the Carnton Plantation. All sites are incredibly well preserved and offer a slightly different perspective on the life and times of those who resided in Franklin during this battle.
My personal favourite was the Carter House. The visitor center museum is a great place to start your visit. You can learn a little about the Carter family and see some of their more fragile possessions. It’s pretty unbelievable to think that on November 30, 1864, 20 000 Union soldiers essentially showed up uninvited to settle in and around the house. They were met by Confederate soldiers. Between approximately 4 pm and 9 pm, a battle ensued resulting in over 10 000 casualties. During this time the family hid in the basement emerging at midnight to absolute carnage.
The guided tour of the house lasts around an hour and thoroughly takes you through all the rooms explaining who occupied them and general background information. The most shocking part of the tour was being shown the bullet holes in the side of the house.
Across the road is the Lotz House. It is almost the same as the Carter house in that the tour explained the background of the family who lived there and what happened to them during the battle. It’s interesting to hear how two families, across the road from each other, experienced the battle and the aftermath differently.
The final stop, the Carnton Plantation owned by the McGavock family, was a Confederate hospital during and post-battle. The most eerie thing about this house was the operating table where many amputations were performed. Our tour guide was very respectful of the blood stains on the floor utilizing them to talk about the possible experiences of those who were cared for in the house. The plantation also contained a Confederate soldier cemetery, smokehouse, and an example of slave quarters specific to that plantation.
Although these houses exist today and are, in my opinion, incredibly valuable assets in teaching Civil War history their value hasn’t always been appreciated. The first two, Carter and Lotz, came so close to being demolished to make way for various building projects. It’s great to see that this didn’t happen and that the houses have been preserved and maintained to educate visitors today.
If you would like more information on any of the houses we visited the links are below!