- Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Adults: $18
- Children (6-12): $8
- Children Under 6: Free
The Battle of Franklin was the last great battle of the American Civil War. Fate and circumstance placed Franklin, Tennessee in the path of two great armies on November 30, 1864. Two houses, Carter House and Carnton, make up the Battle of Franklin Trust and tell the story of that fateful day in November 1864.
Carter House sits just south of downtown Franklin. On November 30, 1864, the Battle of Franklin raged across the fields south of town. The battle-scarred the landscape and claimed the lives of thousands, changing life on the Carter Farm forever. The Lotz family (who lived across the street at the Lotz House) took refuge with the Carter family in the Carter House basement. The tour of Carter House tells this story, as well as the story of the Battle of Franklin.
Carnton was used as a field hospital during the battle and is home to The New York Times bestseller The Widow of the South. After the battle, owners John and Carrie McGavock designated two acres of land to their family cemetery as a final burial place for nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers killed during the battle. The Carnton tour tells the story of the Battle of Franklin (and its aftermath) from the perspective of the McGavock family.
Fountain Branch Carter built the Carter House in 1830. The house is a one-and-a-half story brick home just south of downtown Franklin. He and his wife Polly had 12 children, nine of whom reached adulthood. Though Fountain had successfully operated a business in town, he had the opportunity to pursue farming. In just 20 years, the Carter farm grew from 19 acres to 288. Fountain also added a cotton gin; orginally located in the area now known as Carter Hill Battlefield Park.
On November 30, 1864, The Battle of Franklin changed the Carter Farm forever. Before daybreak, Federal Gen. Jacob D. Cox woke the Carter family, took possession of the house and made the parlor his headquarters. The fighting began at 4 p.m. The Carter family, the Lotz family from across the street and several Carter slaves took refuge in the north room of the basement as the battle raged around their home.
Fountain Branch Carter’s son Tod was serving as an aide to Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas Benton Smith during the Battle of Franklin and was mortally wounded in the fight. He was shot down leading a desperate charge just southwest of his childhood home. Tod was brought to the house where he died two days later.
In the years following the war, the Carter family made efforts to rebuild their farm and revive their livelihood, but the farm was never again as profitable as it was before the war.
Carnton was built in 1826 by former Nashville Mayor Randal McGavock. Throughout the 19th century, it was frequently visited by those shaping Tennessee and American history, including President Andrew Jackson. Carnton grew to become one of the premier farms in Williamson County. Randal’s son John McGavock inherited the farm upon his father’s death. John married Carrie Elizabeth Winder.
Carnton was witness to the battle, and everything the family knew was forever changed. The Confederate Army of Tennessee furiously assaulted the Federal Army entrenched along the southern edge of Franklin. The resulting battle, believed to be the bloodiest hours of the Civil War, involved a massive frontal assault larger than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The majority of combat occurred in the dark and at close quarters. The Battle of Franklin lasted barely five hours and led to nearly 10,000 soldiers being killed, wounded, captured or counted as missing. Nearly 7,000 of that number were Confederate troops. Carnton served as the largest field hospital in the area for hundreds of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers.
Today, visitors flock to Carter House to hear about that devastating day in 1864. Guided tours are available each day. The last one begins at 4 p.m. Each tour lasts about one hour, but we recommend scheduling an extra 30-60 minutes to explore the grounds and outbuildings.
Carter House also offers extended tours including The Battlefield Tour and Carter House Extended Tour. The Battlefield Tour is a comprehensive outdoor walking tour that lasts 90 minutes and is offered Tuesday-Saturday at 11 a.m. Carter House Extended Tour is offered Tuesday-Saturday at 2 p.m. and leads you through the historic home as well as the property as you learn more about the Carter family, the Battle of Franklin and the Civil War as a whole. Each tour costs $25.
Carnton offers daily guided tours. The final tour leaves each day at 4 p.m. Each tour lasts 60 minutes, but we recommend scheduling 30-60 additional minutes to tour the gardens and the McGavock Confederate Cemetery. In addition to the traditional tour, Carnton offers a Behind the Scenes Tour and an Extended Tour. The Behind the Scenes Tour is offered Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. and allows visitors to experience never before seen areas of the historic home. The Extended Tour is a comprehensive, 90-minute walking tour offered Tuesday – Saturday that focuses on elements of the Battle of Franklin, how Carnton was used as a field hospital, the history of the McGovock family and the Confederate Cemetery, as well as the history of slavery at Carnton, in Tennessee and across America. Each tour is $25 and lasts 90 minutes.