The Carnton Plantation is just one of the many historical attractions that can be found in Franklin, TN. It is no secret to Franklin and Nashville natives, but it might come as a surprise to those who are a little less familiar with the area to learn that Franklin is pretty much the meca for all things Civil War. However, the Carnton Plantation, Carter House, and the Lotz House are the more popular Civil War attractions, and of course, if you aren’t afraid of possibly meeting an actually Civil War soldier, ghost tours are also offered.
Ever read or heard of The Widow of the South or The Orphan Mother both written by Robert Hicks? The Carnton Plantation is the actual house that sparked Robert Hicks’ imagination to write these two best selling historical fiction books. Needless to say The Carnton Plantation is a must visit for not only the Civil War history buff, but also the historical fiction book lover.
The Carnton House was built by former Nashville Mayor, Randal McGavock, in 1826. Randal McGavock bought his young wife, Carrie, and her house slave/companion, Mariah, (names sound familiar?) up to Franklin for Louisiana to come live with him. Prior to the Civil War the Carnton plantation was, believe it or not, actually a working farm that raised pigs. In late November a battle took place quite literally in the front yard of the McGavock’s home, and was believed to be one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. That said it only makes sense that The Carnton house became one of the largest Civil War hospitals.
Carrie McGavock (aka the widow of the south) assisted Civil War doctors as much as she could, prepared food for the injured soldiers, wrote letters home for the soldiers who might not make it though the night, and to bring things full circle Carrie and her husband, Randal, designated a piece of their land to be used as a Civil War cemetery which she maintained throughout her lifetime .
191 years since the Carnton House was built it is still an impressive and breathtaking site to see. The house was beautifully restored to historical accuracy by Carnton Association Inc. in the 1970s and is still maintained by the same association. The painted hardwood floors, original finishes, and the Civil War cemetery brings the history of the time alive in a respectfully humbling, eye-opening, and engaging way that no book or documentary would be able to mimic.