Photo by Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
Eerie clouds hovered in the late afternoon sky outside the Carter House on Thursday, as dozens gathered to commemorate the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Franklin during the town’s annual illumination ceremony.
The battle, fought on Nov. 30, 1864, was one of the worst Confederate losses, with more than 6,000 casualties.
“One hundred and fifty-three years ago, right about now, nearly 20,000 Southern soldiers from nearly every state in the old Confederacy stepped forward in one of the largest infantry assaults of the entire Civil War,” said Eric Jacobson, president and chief executive officer of the Battle of Franklin Trust.
“Barely three hours later, what was left of the Confederate Army of Tennessee lay wrecked on the field south of Franklin,” Jacobson continued, pointing out the ground visitors were standing on.
Jacobson spoke about how meaning had shifted for soldiers by 1864: “A war which had begun as a war to preserve the Union and a war for Southern independence had now morphed into a war to preserve the Union, and a war to destroy slavery. Everyone was acutely aware.”
During the event, Battle of Franklin Trust volunteers read names of the dead, while visitors wandered around the fields, chatting with Civil War era re-enactors.
About 50 volunteers began setting up the white paper bags with plastic, battery-powered candles inside at 1 p.m.
A few droplets of rain plopped to the ground in the twilight hour as skeletal trees framed the hill where thousands once fell.
Skye Jason lives in Brentwood, but she made the pilgrimage to see the illumination Thursday afternoon for the first time. Jason said she became fascinated by the histories of families who lived during the Civil War after her two daughters took a class at Columbia State Community College, which required them to research an individual from the time period.
Jason came to the field with her son, Ryan, who wanted to shoot photos of the illumination.
“I’d heard about it before just because of the history,” she said, noting her own ancestral ties back to Delaware before the Revolutionary War.
“There’s so much history in it [the Civil War] that some people want to erase,” she said. “We want to remember.”