Carnton is a historic plantation house and museum located in Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee about an hour away from downtown Nashville. It was built in 1826 by former Nashville Mayor Randal MacGavock. A much larger and more ornate home was built beside it where John and Carrie MacGavock lived during the Civil War. The home and family played an important role during and after the Battle of Franklin which began on 11/30/1864.

According to the tour guides at Carnton, Carrie MacGavock woke to look out her window and find several Union cannons located across the field pointing in the direction of the family home. Union troops were setting up at a neighboring plantation and readying for battle against the Confederate Army. Up until that time, it was normal to see the move of soldiers but no trouble had occurred nearby. That was about to change. The family was informed that a large scale battle was about to occur at the site and the home was going to be used as a Confederate field hospital.

The family really didn’t have any choice in the matter. They quickly gathered up a few things and moved themselves into the original home that was located next to the newer one. Injured bodies began to arrive as the battle continued. Surgeons performed operations in the bedrooms of the second floor. The wounded filled both the inside and outside of the property. When the battle was over, it is estimated that about 10,000 were wounded, killed, or missing in total counting both sides.

The family did everything they could to help in the effort. The medical team moved on with the soldiers in a few days after the battle, leaving the MacGavock family to care for the wounded. The last soldier left the home about six months after the battle occurred. The family donated land so that soldiers could be buried properly. There is a cemetery on the property where over 1,000 Confederate soldiers are buried.

This is a great place to visit. Give yourself about 3 hours to tour. Cost is about $18 to see the museum, have a guided tour of the home, walk through the cemetery and view the battlefield. The book “Widow of the South” was based upon the events that took place at Carnton.