For several years, I have we wanted to tour the historic Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, located about 20 minutes south of Nashville, and we finally go around to visiting for my birthday. It’s an incredible place, not because of the size or grandeur of the home, but because of what happened there almost 160 years ago.
The house was built by a man named Fountain Branch Carter, who was born in 1797. He and his wife, who passed away in 1852 at the age of 46, grew the farm from 19 acres to nearly 300 acres. They had 12 children, although only eight survived until adulthood. By the time the Civil War broke out, most of the kids had a moved away to start their own families.
On November 30, 1864, the Battle of Franklin (technically the Second Battle of Franklin) took place on the Carter Farm. By that point, the house was bursting at the seams, as some of the daughters whose husbands were fighting in the war had returned to the farm with their children temporarily. The Carter family, as well as their slaves and a family from across the street (whose house, the Lotz House, still stands today) took refuge in the Carters’ cellar for 17 hours, as the battle raged around them.
The battle that took place around Carter Farm resulted in nearly 9,000 casualties. The hand-to-hand fighting was some of the worst in the war and occurred right next to the house, within earshot of the civilians huddled in the cellar.
On the tour, you can see bullet holes in the sides of the house and other buildings on the property. There is also bullet damage to some of the furniture inside the house. One might wonder why the family didn’t repair the bullet holes after the war. The tour guide explained that when slavery ended, the Carters were nearly broke.
My favorite part of the tour was the view from inside the farm office. How incredible is it that this wooden building has survived 157 years?
My second favorite part of the tour may seem small and insignificant, but it really helped bring the story to life. These contraptions, which sit outside the house and all the outbuildings, were used to clean the mud off one’s boots before going inside. Through pictures, historians were able to confirm that they were there on the day of the battle. These tiny pieces of metal sure have been through a lot!