5.10.2011

Tennessee Heritage Day Field Trip

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Last Thursday, I tagged along on my boy's fourth grade field trip to the Carter House and Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN.  I've done many historic tours during my sixteen years in Tennessee, but these are definitely two of my favorites.  

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The students were required to dress in Civil War era garb.  The boys mostly opted for Federal and Confederate soldier uniforms, although there were a few Davy Crockett impersonators.  The girls looked like they were straight off the set of Little House On the Prairie or like they were channeling Scarlet O'Hara

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The Carter House is the sight of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War.  After a five hour fight on November 30, 1864, there were 10,000 casualties.  2,000 Union and 8,000 Confederate soldiers were either killed, gravely wounded or missing.  According to reports, the blood was flowing "boot high."  Can you imagine?

Less than five months later, Robert E. Lee would surrender thus ending the war.

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The Carter family and some of their neighbors hid in the cellar as the battle approached.  The youngest daughter wrote in her diary that the noise was so loud that she couldn't hear herself screaming.

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As the story goes, the Confederate army had been marching for ten days straight and had covered over 500 miles.  Night was beginning to fall as they approached Franklin.  The Federal army was already firmly entrenched and as the Confederate soldiers marched in, they were literally caught in the crossfire.  

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One of the coolest parts of the tour is being able to see the visible bullet holes in the sides of the buildings.  The tour guide told us that they have counted over 1,000 holes.

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In addition to hearing about the Battle of Franklin, the students learned about life on the Carter farm.  We toured the smoke house, farm office, the main house and one of the slave cabins. 


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After finishing up at the Carter House, we made the one mile drive to Carnton Plantation for a picnic on the front lawn.  The weather was absolutely perfect. 

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During The Battle of Franklin, Carnton Plantation was used as a field hospital for hundreds of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers.   Tables were set up in front of the south-facing windows so that the surgeons could operate by the last few rays of sunlight.  There are still visible blood stains on many of the floors.

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The wounded remained at the plantation until they were able to go home, some of them staying almost an entire year.  The owners of the house, John and Carrie McGavock, took the responsibility of caring for the soldiers upon themselves. 

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In 1866, the McGavocks designated two acres of land to be used as a cemetery.  It is now the resting place of nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers who perished during the battle.  We finished the day with a leisurely walk through the Confederate cemetery.  

If you happen to be in the area, make an effort to visit these historic sites.  As a girl growing up in Colorado, I learned very little about the Civil War.  I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to visit these locations which played a huge roll in our nation's history. 

2 comment(s). Leave yours!:

helen said... Best Blogger Tips

I enjoy this tour when I visited too.
Such a great experience for the fourth graders and right in their own backyard.

kathleen said... Best Blogger Tips

I don't think you've ever taken me to these places. Can we go next time I visit? It looks so interesting.

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