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The Carter House, built in 1830 by Fountain Branch Carter is one of Tennessee’s 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” Carter’s 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 father’s 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 Carter’s 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 o’clock 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
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