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Scores of people came out to the McGavock Confederate Cemetery at the Carnton plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Sunday June 1st at 2 p.m., to commemorate the service and sacrifice that some 1,500 Confederate soldiers made on November 30, 1864, during the Battle of Franklin. This is an annual event hosted by The Daughters of the Confederacy. Boy Scouts Troop #137 serves the event by placing flags near every headstone.

Fourteen Confederate reenactor soldiers attended and gave a 21-gun salute to the nearly 1,500 Confederate-dead soldiers who are buried at McGavock. The 46th Tennessee Infantry was also specially honored.

The service was well-attended with probably nearly 75 people in attendance.

Outgoing Director of the Carter House, Thomas Cartwright, was the key-note speaker. He cited from memory several letters and accounts of soldiers who fought and died at Franklin. Cartwright cited the bravery and sacrifice of such men as Colonel Michael Farrell from 15th Mississippi.

Jim Drury, was the lone pipe musician, with the TN Scots Pipe Band. Drury ; the reenactors into the cemetery to begin the service with overcast skies and he walked singularly down the 14 feet path of the cemetery to end the service playing the well-known hymn Amazing Grace.

Many more pictures of the event can be found here.

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The Willilam’s Brothers of Co. C. 40th Mississippi. Lt. Joseph Green English Williams, age 24, and brother Lt. Enoch Henderson Williams, age 27.

According to a historian, one of the Williams brothers was mortally wounded in the belly and lay dying on the Franklin battlefield. He crawled over to his brother who also lay dying from the result of a wound which took off a limb. They both layed throughout the night comforting one another as best they could to keep warm from the below freezing temperatures and to stop the bleeding. They were found the next morning, stiff and cold, but clasped in one another’s arms.

Source: T. Burgess, Hendersonville, TN

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The 14th MS was part of Adams’s Brigade, Loring’s Division

“Our division was in the right of the Pike and on the top of a high ridge from where we could see all the movements of the enemy. The blue coats were busy fixing for us. We could see them by the thousands, shoveling dirt, cutting brush and bushes and making all kind of traps for us to march against. I was very much in hopes they would run again, but they kept on digging and seemed to be burying themselves behind their breastworks. I kept feeling more and more anxious about the kind of reception they were going to give us. We lay in full view of them till nearly sundown. Oh! What a day of suspense, and mortal fear. I could hardly content myself with standing or sitting for I fully realized the fact that many of us who were now alive and full of fond anticipation would in a very short time ‘be laid low by the shells and shots of a relentless foe,’ and my anticipations were fully realized.”
-The Civil War Years Revealed Through Letters, Diaries & Memoirs. Warwick, p. 189.

Estes survived the battle. Ten of Estes’s fellow 14th MS are buried at McGavock.

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Columbia Tenn
Dec 28th 1864

Dear Sister,

I received a long letter from you today. I reply not because there is anything of importance transpiring just at present, but because when the most happens is the time I am entirely unable to write. Since I was last at Columbia we have had some stirring times. Hood drove us back to Nashville. We had a very severe battle at Franklin during which our Regiment lost in killed wounded & captured some thing over half its men. After that we were in the big fight at Nashville & our company lost its Commanding Officer, a fine man who was shot through the breast & had an arm broken by a musket ball. But the success atoned for all the loss & more. John Bell HoodHood has halted at Columbia again. The rest of the Army has gone down after Hood. How long we shall remain here idle I know not but presume we shall have plenty to do. Sherman has taken Savannah & Hardee has escaped with his 15,000 men & will probably reinforce Hood which will give him a chance to show us considerable fight. But we shall conquer in the end. The right will triumph in the end. Charleston will be taken next and all important Sea ports. Christmas is over & I thought often of the fine times you were having at home. We had rather hard times living on hard tack & sow belly. It is quite cold to night, I have just had an argument on Slavery with the Captain who is for allowing the slaveholders credit for honesty on account of early education and I am not. I would just as — take a horse or hoe from one of these men as not. But I must stop writing. Having passed safely through the Battle of Franklin I expect good times for a while. Let me know if any thing new happening and you hear from Thomas.
Goodbye.
Your Bro. A.M.Weston

Asa M. Weston enlisted on 8/11/62 as Sergeant in Company K, 50th Ohio Infantry. He survived the Civil War.

The fiercest fighting during the battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) centered around the home of Fountain Branch Carter (see above), looking East. Hundreds of wounded and dead could be seen from the porch after the battle. Many of those – Confederate soldiers – would eventually be interred at McGavock cemetery close by.

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The McGavock Cemetery Book

George Cuppett, who led the re-burial project from April to June 1866, recorded the names and identities of about 1,500 Confederate dead. He kept them the book pictured below. The book was passed on to the care of Carrie McGavock, which she kept diligently.

The McGavock Cemetery Book

Here the book is opened to the Mississippi section of boys killed at Franklin.

Photos provided for and courtesy of the Carnton Foundation.

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Most of the Confederate (and Union dead) were buried “near and along the length of the Federal breastworks, which spanned the Southern edge of what was then Franklin,” according to Jacobson; The NcGavock Confederate Cemetery, p. 21. Union dead were placed by twos in shallow grave in long rows by their comrades without marking the identities. Many of the Union dead were later removed either by family or loved ones or by the military and relocated in graves at home or buried at the Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN. The Union soldiers interred at Stone’s River were placed there by the 11th United States Color Troops, according to Jacobson: McGavock, p. 22.

However, the identities of the Confederate dead at Franklin, some 1,750, were mostly identified by burial teams the next day (December 1st). They were not buried in mass graves. Rather, soldier burial teams took great care to collect and identify their fallen comrades placing makeshift wooden markers at the head of the graves, identifying the men by name, rank, Regiment and the Company they served in.

Most of the Confederate dead found initial rest on the property of Fountain Branch Carter and James McNutt. Carter had the largest section of land with killed. He also lost his own son, Todd Carter, in the Battle of Franklin. The Carter-McNutt land would be but a temporary rest until the bodies were transferred to their permanent home some eighteen months later, in June 1866.

Source: excerpted from the Wikipedia article (authored by Tellinghistory, the owner of this blog site)

This image is a stereoview of citizens burying their dead after the battle of Fredericksburg

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By the time the Spring of 1866 arrived the condition of the graves and markers of the fallen Franklin Confederate were in bad condition. Many of the wooden markers were beginning to be hard to read and some had been used as firewood unfortunately. The identities, names and stories of these brave men were in danger.

The McGavocks of Carnton donated two acres of their property to be used as a permanent resting place for the soldiers. Citizens of Franklin began raising funds to exhume and re-bury nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers, from where they lay on the field to the quiet field just northwest of the Carnton house. Enough money was raised to get started and a citizen named George Cuppett was placed in charge of the re-burial operation. He was paid $5.00 for each soldier. The work was “done in order to have removed from fields exposed to the plow-share, the remains of all those who were buried,” according to Col. John McGavock (quoted in Jacobson: McGavock, p. 24-25).

George was assisted by his brother, Marcellus, and two others. The entire operation took ten weeks and was completed in June 1866. Sadly, Marcellus, just 25 years old, fell ill during the process and died. He is buried at the head of the Texas section in the cemetery today. George Cuppett wrote, “My hole (sic) heart is with the brave & noble Confederate dead who fell whilst battling for their writes (sic) and Libertys (sic).” (Jacobson: McGavock, p. 25)

Soldiers from every Southern State in the Confederacy, except Virgina, are represented in the cemetery. Wooden headboards with the soldier’s personal identification were installed, as well as footboards in 1867.

Source: excerpted from the Wikipedia article (authored by Tellinghistory, the owner of this blog site)

Photo courtesy of the Carnton Foundation

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The Col. John and Carrie McGavock home – Carnton – was situated less than one mile from the epicenter of the action that took place on the Union Eastern flank at Franklin. Because of close proximity geographically, and the compassion of Carrie McGavock, hundreds of Confederate soldiers were tended and cared for immediately after the battle at Carnton. As many as 300 soldiers found care inside the home and possibly hundreds spread out on the plantation grounds. Confederate surgeons worked tirelessly to save as many boys as possible.

Source: excerpted from the Wikipedia article (authored by Tellinghistory, the owner of this blog site)

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The 6th MS was part of Adams’s Brigade, which has 43 known dead buried at McGavock.  The 6th MS has 3 known buried dead at McGavock.

“During the movement of this division the Federals had a battery planted on the right of Harpeth River that we could not reach, dealt great destruction to our forces, using grape and canister shot to great effect. Mowing down the Confederate troop, killing and wounding by the thousands, at the same time suffering from the galling fire from the Federal troop entrenched in front. I saw on the battlefield men lying in piles three deep, dead and wounded.
-The Civil War Years Revealed Through Letters, Diaries & Memoirs.  Warwick, p. 57.

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Featherston’s C.S.A. Brigade has 68 boys known buried at McGavock Cemetery

“Near the Harpeth River, Major General William Loring’s troops could begin to see the looming Federal line protecting Reilly’s division. Buford’s dismounted troopers and Brigadier General Winfield Featherston’s Mississippians advanced between the river and the Lewisburg Pike, their line bisected by the Central Alabama Railroad. To their left, the Alabamians of Brigadier General Thomas Scott’s brigade had fallen behind as they guided on the pike, the enemy artillery in Fort Granger contesting their advance. Suddenly, at a range of two hundred yards, the Federal artillery supporting Reilly’s line exploded, followed quickly by riflery from Israel Stiles‘ and James Casement’s brigades, six regiments of battle-tested Indianans. In a blinding flash, the Confederate battle line shivered as Federal iron tore trough the rebel front. Of the carnage, one Confederate survivor remembered, “Our troops were killed by whole platoons; our front line of battle seemed to have been cut down by the first discharge, for in many places they were lying in their faces in almost as good order as if they had lain down on purpose.”

“Featherston’s boys recoiled from the impact then pressed for war, but fifty feet from the Yankee line they ran into the impenetrable hedge of osage. Grown to a stinging thickness by the locals to control cattle, the hedge line now provided a perfect barrier against the rebel assault, too high to surmount and too dense to winnow. The Mississippians came to a halt, searching frantically for a way through the natural abatis. As they did, they became little more than sitting ducks for the Indianans across the way. Only near the opening at the pike were the Yankees slightly tested. A pitifully small set of survivors planted two Mississippi flags on the earthworks, but they were almost immediately killed or captured. One survivor described it as “a tremendous deluge of shot and shell . . . seconded by a murderous sheet of fire and lead from the infantry behind the works, and also another battery of six guns directly in our front.” It was, he said, a “scene of carnage and destruction fearful to behold.”

“Featherston’s right-most regiments crawled along the ground trying to find another way through the obstructions, but when they curled into the railroad cut marking Stiles’ left, the 120th Indiana plastered their van with musketry. Farther north, Battery M, 4th U.S. Artillery, began to spray the cut with canister, while Cockerill’s gunners in Fort Granger added their own plunging fire. Even a battery east across the Harpeth weighed in. Caught in the maelstrom were Buford’s troopers, belly down on the banks of the Harpeth trying to escape the murderous sweep.”

– Patrick Brennan, The Battle of Franklin, North & South magazine, January 2005, Vol. 8., No.1: pages 39-40.

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