History Comes Alive


9780446558884_p0_v1_s260x420I recently read Widow of the South by Robert Hicks.  It is historical fiction set during the Civil War and revolves around the Battle of Franklin and the makeshift hospital for Confederate soldiers at Carnton Plantation.

FranklinSince part of my family now lives in Franklin, Tennessee, on a recent visit I was particularly interested in exploring the plantation and learning more about what actually happened there.

Carnton Plantation back view
Carnton Plantation back view

While the house is original, the guide was quick to point out that whatever interior description was presented in the book was fabricated because no information on that subject exists.

FranklinThe interior has been restored to represent the style of the period,Franklin

but it does not likely reflect the original decor.

Franklin  In any case, the rooms that are open are quite charming.  Keep in mind the plantation was used as a hospital, so whatever stains were on the floor were identified as blood stains which added to the drama of the visit.

Carnton garden
Carnton garden

In addition to the main building is a lovely garden and a few still standing outbuildings.

FranklinThese include a smokehouse and one of the quarters that was used to house slaves.

Franklin

I was not surprised to see a loom there as most of the household linens of the time were  woven by slaves.  I have such appreciation for the skill it took to create on such primitive equipment.  My loom is light years removed from this.

FranklinAs a hospital, Carnton was used to treat thousands of Confederate soldiers who were wounded in the carnage that was the Battle of Franklin where nearly 11,000 men from both sides were killed.  Some 1400 of the soldiers treated at Carnton died there and were buried in trenches close to the house.    About a year and a half after the battle, Carrie and John McGavock had the bodies exhumed, placed in individual pine boxes and interred on a site close to the McGavock family cemetery.

FranklinToday it is preserved as the McGavock Confederate Cemetery and is a grim reminder of lives so needlessly lost.

FranklinThe cemetery is arranged by state and each area bears a marker with the name of the state and the number of men from there who were killed.

Carnton Plantation is just part of the surprising amount of history in and around Franklin, and it is beautifully chronicled with historical markers at every turn.  This makes the area a very interesting one to visit, and I can’t wait to go back.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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35 thoughts on “History Comes Alive

  1. I love historicalfiction, North a nd South wasone of my faves.
    I have family in Tenn too. My niece is a doc at St. Jude’s Hospital. I have never been to Tenn. We don’t get to travel.
    Very interesting post, Lulu!

    1. Tennessee is a lovely place to visit, particularly the area around Nashville where there is much to see.

  2. I’ve never visited a plantation. I have seen them in passing when visiting relatives in the South, but I have never been to one to explore. (When we “almost” moved to Savannah a couple of years ago, we were going to live in a home on the Moss Plantation. Thank God I would be living in “the big house”!!! :-)) I’m sure there is a lot of interesting history behind each and every plantation. Perhaps one day I will get to visit and really explore like you did. It’s on the Bucket List!

    1. Though Carnton is referenced as a plantation, it is not as impressive as some in Mississippi and Louisiana. I loved this one because of the book which, though it was fiction, brought history to life.

  3. I’ve been to Franklin, Tennessee to visit…it’s so rich with history!! The pictures you’ve shared here are great. I’m visiting today from Thursday’s Favorite Things.

    1. Franklin historical society has done an amazing job with historical markers. There is one at every turn, and I’m trying to read them all! I was actually born there in a now defunct hospital which also has a marker!

  4. What a lovely restoration! We visited several plantations when we went to Charleston and Atlanta. Of course I think I fell in love in 8th grade when our history teacher offered extra credit for reading Gone With The Wind. What a lovely gesture to have exhumed the bodies and placed them in caskets, albeit pine boxes. Thanks for taking us along!

    1. I was amazed that so many bodies were identified. Evidently Carrie McGavock kept a book identifying as many of the soldiers as she could.

  5. I find this kind of thing utterly fascinating. The differences between the slave quarters and the main house: the bare walls and rough floor.. the contrasts in the soft lives of the slave owners and the hard lives of the slaves is stark.
    I agree, the loom, even to my untrained eye has no “extra” that would make the work easier, it looks like a rudimentary version at best.
    I was deeply heartened by the exhumation of the bodies and placing them in caskets… some final dignity after perishing in the war (all war is undignified).and I hope they rest in peace. The peace of mind this action must have given to their descendants must also be very much appreciated I expect.
    Beautiful post… food for thought and I enjoyed learning something more about a time and place in history that I know fairly little about. Thank You!!!

    1. Kiwi, I love all that you noticed. You are right about war being undignified, and this one was particularly so. It remains the bloodiest war ever fought by Americans, and I wonder how many of those soldiers were that passionate over slavery.

  6. I have that book! But…I’ve never read it. Now I’ll have to.

    My niece lives Brentwood but attends church in Franklin. I love that little town & we always enjoy visiting. We did go out to the plantation & stopped at the cemetery but didn’t do the tour. It is on my list of things to do one of these days.

    Thanks for the tour & for reminding me about the book. Also, while doing family research, I found that I have Pemberton relatives that were killed in the Battle of Franklin and are buried there.

    1. You just might find your relatives in this cemetery. As I said, the cemetery is arranged by state which would at least help find the correct area. The markers, however, have only the initials of the person who lies there.
      Like you, I love Franklin. Would you believe I was born there so it is very weird that my daughter has chosen it as a place to relocate.

  7. thank you for the tour. I absolutely love old plantations and everything about them. the way of life is fascinating to me. they had to work so hard to make a good life…the pictures are wonderful..
    Love, Mona

    1. Thank you, Mona, for stopping by. You are right about the hard work, and I guess farm life is the same today, only without slaves.

  8. I love to visit historic places and this looks wonderful. The brick buildings so enchanting. The gardens so beautiful. What a wonderful visit.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the visit. Do come again.

  9. So fabulous you could visit a place you’re reading about – I love it when that happens! Beautiful spot, too. Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for your sweet comments on my potting bench too! Have a fabulous day!

    1. Even though the book is fiction, there was also a lot of fact in it and I so enjoyed seeing the place and imagining what really happened there. Thanks for your visit. Hope you will come again.

  10. This is exactly the kind of place that we like to go for vacations. It has been years since we’ve done a Tennessee vacation. I think we’re long overdue, and I would like to visit here.

    1. I so enjoy Savannah so it was fun looking at your photos. The south is full of interesting places to visit.

  11. I love historical fiction! Not much time for reading these days, though. Thanks for sharing the book and a little history. 🙂

    1. I have a hard time sitting and reading, but I listen to lots of audio books. You wouldn’t believe how much “reading” I do when I’m folding clothes, getting dressed, cooking or whatever. The library is a great resource.

  12. I’ve been to Franklin, but didn’t get to visit this plantation. Thanks for taking us along.

    1. Delighted to have you along.

  13. That was fascinating Linda, I can’t imagine living during the Civil War and the incredible sacrifices people made~it must have been quite an experience visiting the Plantation and cemetery and thinking about what the McGavok family did to honor the fallen soldiers. Driving down the Natchez Trace once, I felt I could see and hear the ghosts of the Confederate soldiers as the traveled by foot to and from their homes, it was quite eerie. Thank you so much for the tour.
    Jenna

    1. My daughter now lives at the end (or the beginning) of the Natchez Trace where so much history exists. Glad you enjoyed the visit to Carnton.

  14. I love historical fiction. I was never a history lover until I started reading this type of literature. It really makes history come alive, that personal touch is so fascinating. I have a really good friend in Franklin so it will be fun to see this when I visit her, thanks!

    1. If you are interested in Civil War fiction, this book is quite good and so is My Name is Mary Sutter.
      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you come again.

  15. Hailing from Flashback Friday this Post is amazing, and I totally love your thorough explanation. Thanks so much for sharing. It was extremely interesting. Have a great weekend. hugs

    1. I appreciate your stoppping by and hope you will come again.

  16. Interesting post. The slave quarters built from brick are the reason they have lasted. Most that I saw in central Alabama back in the fifties were made of wood and probably are not still standing. I remember playing in the woods and feeling a little afraid seeing three little houses behind the big house. The two large churches in the town had balconies where the slaves sat for church services.

    If only walls could talk I am sure much could be learned. Thanks for sharing the tour and history of this plantation.

  17. I am going to order that book…I love history…and I have such a love for Southern plantations and their history….I will have to visit that plantation when we get to Franklin…I can spend all day touring those homes and taking in the history.

  18. Thanks for sharing those lovely photos. The book sounds fascinating. I think I will add it to my list of books to read.

    I do love visiting historical buildings; there’s nothing quite like actually being in a place and imagining the scenes that were played out within it. In a week, I am heading to Scotland and I hope I will get the chance to visit Scone Palace. It looks like a magnificent place.

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