*** The Carter House
— Hood's Campaign —
(Preface): In September 1864, after Union Gen. William T. Sherman defeated Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood at Atlanta, Hood led the Army of Tennessee northeast against Sherman's supply lines. Rather than contest Sherman's "March to the Sea," Hood moved north into Tennessee. Gen. John M. Schofield, detached from Sherman's army, delayed Hood at Columbia and Spring Hill before falling back to Franklin. The bloobath here on November 30 crippled the Confederates, but they followed Schofield to the outskirts of Nashville and Union Gen. George H. Thomas's strong defenses. Hood's campaign ended when Thomas crushed his army December 15-16.
Cotton planter Fountain Branch Carter built this dwelling in 1830. On November 30, 1864, after more than three decades as a peaceful farmhouse, it was at the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin, in the heart of the Union line, Union Gen. Jacob D. Cox had his headquarters here.
During the battle, Carter, his family, and two neighboring families took refuge in the basement, where they all survived. A few Federal soldiers, frantic to escape the carnage outside, joined them. Union reinforcements pushed their way through their fleeing comrades and slammed into the Confederates charging this way. Here, just inside the breastworks in front of you, the Federals repulses as many as seventeen Confederates assaults. The fighting here was so vicious that the blood of dead and wounded soldiers pooled in Carter's garden and flowed along the adjacent Columbia Turnpike.
Carter's son, Confederate Capt. Tod Carter, was shot down near here. He was serving on Gen. Thomas B. Smith's staff when Smith's brigade assaulted this position from in front of you. One hundred and eighty yards southwest of the Carter House, Carter was shot nine times, including once in the forehead. He was found the next morning barely alive. Carried to his home after an absence of more than three years, he died two days later. One of his sisters tending him as he died sobbed, "Brother's come home at last."
Four Medals of Honor were later awarded for courage in the action here. Gen. David S. Stanley led a brigade into the thick of the fight at a crucial moment and was shot in the neck but recovered. Corp. James K. Merrifield, 88th Illinois Infantry captured two Confederate battle flags out of the line. Sgt. Alfred Ramsbottom, 97th Ohio Infantry captured the 2nd Mississippi Infantry flag in hand-to-hand combat with its bearer Sgt. Thomas Toohey, 24th Wisconsin Infantry, worked a battery's gun almost single-handedly under hotter fire than anywhere else in the line.
"We were so badly mixed up with old soldiers going forward, new soldiers going back, and Rebs running both ways... I could not tell... which were prisoners, the Rebs or ourselves- each ordering the other to surrender, and many on each side clubbing their guns and chasing each other around the [Carter] houses."
- Union Soldier