The Carter House was built in 1830 by Fountain Branch Carter. It was a modest brick home with a basement and upstairs. It sat on 288 acres at the south edge of town bordering the Columbia Pike. They had a cotton gin that drew people from miles around to have their cotton processed.
Early in the morning of November 30, 1864, around 1 AM, the home was commandeered to be used as the Union Command Post. All the Carter family could do was watch as they had just lost control of their house to the Union Army.
Fountain Branch Carter was elderly and a widower at this time, so it was up to his oldest son, Lt Colonel Moscow Branch Carter to keep the family safe. Moscow Branch had been taken prisoner in an earlier battle and was home on parole.
He moved the family into the basement, with the only access being from outside the house from the back porch. The two Carter men, three daughters, a daughter-in-law, children, servants, and a few neighbors would bring the count to 22 people taking refuge in the basement.
Looking at the battlefield, you could see the trenches with men
in them getting ready for battle. Officers were yelling, and soldiers
were hurrying to prepare for battle. Men were still digging the trenches
a little deeper and fortifying the breastworks.
At 4 PM the Battle of Franklin began. In the basement where the Carters were at, they hid in the back storage room and barricaded the door to keep the soldiers out. The sounds of battle must have been terrifying, hearing gun fire, cannons blasts, bullets hitting the house, and the screams of dying men.
Just after the battle started, the Confederate charge found men in and around the house fighting hand to hand. One cannon ball hit the house and made a hole high in the wall. It was night-marish 5 hour battle that was finally over at 9 PM.
It wasn't till late that night that the Carter family and friends left the basement. Men were lying dead and wounded everywhere. They were in the house, on the porch and around the house. Then someone came and told them the some terrible news.
The Carters found out that their other son, Captain Tod Carter had been with the Confederate troops in the assault. He had been shot and was lying somewhere in the battlefield. Moscow Carter took a lantern and went in search for his brother.
The Picture at the left is a picture of Captain Todd Carter.
There were thousands of men lying everywhere and it was hard to walk without stepping on someone. Moscow wandered aimlessly for hours. Confederate General Smith came to the Carter house to talk to the family. Todd was on the generals staff and he wanted to talk to them in person. General Smith rallied all efforts to find Todd, found another lantern and took up the search himself. Todd was found some time later, about 100 yards away from the house wounded.
General Smith and the Carters carried Todd into the house and
placed him in an old first floor bedroom. It was the same room he was
born in. They tended his wounds for two days and that was where he died.
Before he died he was able to talk to his family
and tell them how much he loved them.
Below is a YouTube video about Captain Todd Carter and the Carter House.
The Carter House, a Registered Historical Landmark, has been open to the public since 1953. The remaining buildings still have over 1,000 bullet holes from the battle. The farm office is known as the most bullet-damaged building that remains standing of the Civil War. If you would like to see the Carter House, the address is 1140 Columbia Avenue Franklin, TN 37064-3617. To call the number is 615-791-1861. They are open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, and Sun 1pm-5pm.