GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE
THE CARNTON MANSION
The Battle of Franklin was one of the tragic battles of the Civil War, mainly because of mistakes that were made by both sides and the incredible casualty rate. (For more details see the Haunted Tennessee Section- The Carter House) From the back porch of the Carnton Mansion, which was very near the fighting, you can look out over the 1481 marked graves of Confederate soldiers who died in the fighting here.
Before the War, the Carnton Mansion had been a peaceful and quiet place. It had been built in 1826 and inherited by John and Caroline McGavok in 1844. It had played host to dignitaries like Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston. It was not until last November of 1864 that life was forever changed at Carnton.
The Carnton Mansion still stands today as a memorial to the ravages of
war and to the bloody fighting which took place in Franklin.
Late in the afternoon of November 30, Caroline looked out of the house and noticed that the livestock seemed to be frightened. The cattle could apparently hear the charge that had been started by General Hood on the Union positions. Soon, the sounds of the cattle could not be heard over the sounds of gunfire, cannons and the screams of dying men. Evening came and the battle wore down. The night began to fall and wounded men began to gather near the Carnton Mansion. The battle wore on until midnight, when it started to rain and sleet.
Caroline ordered the servants to roll up the carpets and help the wounded men into the house. More than 200 soldiers were brought inside, where Caroline tore clothing for bandages and tried to feed all of those she could. Doctors operated in the parlor and the dead were carried out and laid on the back porch until there was no more room. Legends say that there were so many dead men stacked up behind the house that they stood erect in a column.
Two days later, the Confederate Army started to bury the hundreds of dead men outside the nearby Carter House. But John McGavok was so troubled by the experience of the battle that in 1866, he had the hastily buried men moved to a permanent resting ground at Carnton. This ghastly task was given a purpose as Caroline recorded all of the information available about each man from names to initials to anything they carried. She hoped this would give the mourning families of these men some peace of mind. But not everyone who was laid to rest at Carnton Mansion has rested in peace.... The most famous ghost is the restless soldier who has been seen walking through the house and across the back porch. Some visitors have reported that he has been spotted a few times marching around the perimeter of the yard. Everywhere that he goes, the sound of his heavy boots accompanies his wandering.
The ghost has been joined at the house by the spirit of a former cook, of whom an anomalous photo was taken years ago showing her hovering head in the hallway, a mysterious woman in white who is believed to be Caroline herself, the spirit of a girl killed in the 1840's and a ghost who is fond of breaking glass. Although staff members don't mention the many ghosts on their tours, they are often asked about them by visitors.... some of whom claim to hear heavy walking or who have seen a phantom soldier in one of the bedrooms.
The Carnton Mansion is located in Franklin, Tennessee, which lies in the central region of the state and is a short distance south of Nashville. The house is under restoration but visitors are welcome. It is outside of town and located on Carnton Lane.
Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
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