Papa Report #14


Papa Was A Boy in Gray Book Tour

with Prize-Winning author Mary w. Schaller


Report #14 from Ulysses August 3, 2001

Carter House at Franklin,TN

The Carter House:
Ulysses: Looking at the stately Federal facade of the Carter House nestled within a shady grove of ancient trees beside a small two-lane road near the historic district of Franklin, Tennessee, you would never guess this quiet home was once the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

The Battle of Franklin:

On November 30, 1864, General John Bell Hood, C.S.A. attacked the Federal army commanded by Major General John Schofield. The Federal troops were entrenched behind fortifications that ringed Franklin. This small town lay only twenty miles south of Nashville, the target of Schofield's advance. Photo: Carter House.

In the mid-afternoon, Hood sent his poorly-equipped and underfed Confederates across two miles of open fields against the Union front. The Carter House sat directly in the center between the two lines of battle. 23,000 Rebels met 28,000 Federal soldiers in headlong combat.

The Carter family, including thirteen children, took refuge in the stone cellar under the house as the maelstrom raged over their heads. Federal soldiers used the front bedroom and parlor as sniping positions while they fired their muskets at the enemy, who returned fire from the far side of the barn and icehouse. Not one brick in the south wall of the kitchen escaped a bullet hole. Photo: Carter House. You can see the small window in the stone basement where the family hid during the battle. The window was blocked up with pieces of firewood during the fight.

Robert E.: Twice Yankee soldiers tried to invade the Carter family's safe haven in the cellar and were twice repulsed by old Mr. Carter. The children spent the five hours of the engagement hiding behind barrels of flour and other supplies at the far end of the cellar.

Ulysses: I do not blame the soldiers for seeking a safe place out of the hail of bullets. The battle took a fearful toll. At 9 p.m., when General Hood gave the order to disengage the attack, the Confederates had lost over 6,250 men including six generals killed-- the highest number of generals ever lost in a single battle. One of the Southern casualties was Captain Tod Carter, eldest son of the beleaguered household. He died in his own bed two days after the fight. The Union casualties were a little over 2,600.

Today, Carter House stands as a mute testimony to the ferociousness of warfare. Over 1,000 bullet holes are still plainly visible in the walls of the main house, the kitchen, the barn, and the store house. Carter House has the dubious distinction of being the most bullet-riddled building still standing in the United States.

Book Signing -- The Carter House Museum:
Robert E.: Unlike that cold November afternoon, Carter House was warm and peaceful on July 15 when a book signing for Mary was hosted by museum director Thomas Cartwright and the Carter House staff.

Period Songs by Paul and Kim Caudell:

Many people came, including Paul and Kim Caudell, two musicians who specialize in period songs. They arrived wearing clothing from the 1860's.

For the two hours of the book signing, Paul and Kim regaled the visitors with lively camp songs and tender ballads of the period, including one they wrote titled, "Last Letter Home." This song is based on a real letter displayed in the Carter House Museum. Photo: Paul Caudell on guitar and Kim on the fiddle playing inside the Carter House Museum (left), Kim and Paul Caudell in a period pose (right).

Robert E. Makes a Friend:

Ulysses: Kim took a shine to Robert E. He always could catch a lady's eye.

She was so pleased when Mary presented one of Robert E.'s brothers to her.

Photo: Kim and Paul in a period pose. Kim holding Robert E. She is supposed to be looking serious, but she is so happy with Robert E. that a smile creeps across her face.

Next Stop -- Kentucky!
After a very pleasant afternoon at Carter House, we packed up the car again and drove north into Kentucky.

Abe: Next time, it will be my pleasure to tell you what we did there.