We awoke to very cool temperatures but a brilliantly sunny day with deep blue skies. We decided to drive about 30 miles to Bledsoe Creek State Park near Gallatin, TN. The countryside is lovely here; steeply rolling grazing and farmland turned golden by the fall. The state park has good camping facilities although we did not camp here. It also has wonderful picnic, fishing and boating areas located on Old Hickory Lake and the Cumberland River. Good for kayaking too. However, the weather was too chilly and windy to launch the boats so we took Dixie on a three mile hike up a steep hillside on a trail crackling from the sound of the downed leaves. It was as though we were walking on a golden, orange and red carpet with the huge horse chestnuts on the ground looking like ornaments. There were many bluebirds and other birds including turkeys which Dixie loved flushing from the forest floors. The hike was moderately strenuous going up the mountain but we soon began walking down to the lake and the remaining hike was along the shore line of Old Hickory Lake; a lovely lake with nice homes ringing the non-public lands. I could live here.
On Friday, we drove to Franklin, Tennessee, a lovely old pre-civil war town. There was a lovely old courthouse and the main street was filled with boutique shops and antique stores. We ate lunch at a great little deli, Puckett’s, frequented by the courthouse folk and recommended by a guy we met in the courthouse while we were looking around.
Then we went to Carnton Plantation that boasts the largest privately owned military cemetery in the US. We took the tour of the plantation house and listened to the account of the battle of Franklin about which we had been totally ignorant. It is so interesting here in the south because at least when I was growing up, our history of the civil war was not particularly intensive. Neither of us had any idea that over 30, 000 soldiers fought in this battle or that almost 10, 000 were killed; 7000 confederates and 2500 union soldiers. The battle occurred on November 30, 1864 and Carnton Plantation was the site of the confederate hospital. It is a lovely home built in the early 1800’s and at the time of the civil war, was a plantation of 1400 acres with slave quarters, a smokehouse and springhouse. According to the guide, the battle of Franklin occurred while the confederates were trying to re-take Nashville; a valuable asset due to its location along the Cumberland River; a navigable supply line. Nashville was also valuable because it was the Tennessee state capital. The union army was not well fortified in Nashville and so, the confederates were trying to get there and re-take the city while the union was rushing to fortify its battlements. The two armies met in Franklin; about 2 miles from Carnton Plantation.
The Plantation was used as a field hospital and at one point, housed 300 wounded. The amputated limbs were stacked in the corners of the rooms being used for the surgeries. The floorboards still bear the bloodstains. After the battle, for more than a year, the plantation continued to house wounded from that battle. After the war, the family donated land and established a fund to pay for the exhumation and reburial of the confederate soldiers. They were buried with wooden plaques with the names and ranks of the dead where known. Later, the wooden plaques were replaced by small stone markers with initials and numbers placed on the stone. Carrie McGavock, wife of John, the plantation owner, kept a journal and it is only through that document that the identity of the deal soldiers is known. She lived until the early 20th century and she and her daughter were the source of information about the hospital and what occurred. One other interesting tidbit; there were five confederate generals killed and four died at Carnton. They placed the bodies on the porch so the troops could pay their respects to the four. The bloodstains remain.
After the battle of Franklin, the two armies met at the battle of Nashville; a two day battle. Again, at least for Bob and I, all of this was new information; not learned in any history class we ever had. It has been interesting learning of the privations the war caused to the southern states and the toll on life that was caused during the war. We had no idea that there had been battles at Franklin, Memphis or Nashville although we were aware of the Murfreesboro and Shiloh battles. We have also seen how important the river and rail systems were and are today in these states. With the Mississippi, Tennessee, Cumberland, Arkansas rivers and others so navigable, during the civil war, they were crucial supply routes and today, serve as the highways for tons of goods each day. Again, not something we really think about in Pennsylvania.
Tonight, we ate dinner at the Depot restaurant in Springfield, TN. While getting a manicure yesterday, a lady recommended this location as a local place that had good food and was not a chain fast food restaurant. So, off we went and were glad that we had. First, we had deep fried dill pickles; yes, you read right! For my Jewish friends…..sacrilege!!!! Who would fry a dill pickle but…when dipped in a sort of spicy ranch dressing, it is yummy. Bad for you but still really good. Bob had “twin tails” that were the tails of filets. I had a pecan encrusted trout. Both were excellent so we were glad we had taken a local’s advice. The restaurant was in a railroad depot, not surprisingly, and the freight trains kept whizzing by as we ate. People were lined up to get a table at what is obviously a local favorite. This one couple we were talking with while waiting for a table told us they had driven the 30 miles from Gallatin to go to the Depot. After all that, the bill was only $50.00.