PHOTO: Mayor Ken Moore, Dr. Carroll Van West, Cullen Smith, Robert Hicks and Tim Hyder cut the ribbon on Carter House’s three new cannons // Photo by Brooke Wanser.
By BROOKE WANSER
Three cannons built through private and grant funding were dedicated Friday afternoon during a ceremony at Carter Hill Battlefield Park.
The guns are replicas of ones belonging to the 1st Kentucky light artillery, and cost about $20,000 each to make, Battle of Franklin Trust Chief Executive Officer Eric Jacobson said.
Jacobson spoke about the importance of the park’s history. Once home to a strip mall including a Domino’s Pizza, the ground has been restored over the past decade to the quiet, grassy space it is today. The addition of the three, soon to be four, cannons, Jacobson said, is a victory.
He related a story that occurred when the trust was razing a house during reclamation.
“A fellow pulled into the lot and he was sort of agitated, he was a local. And he goes, ‘How much more of this battlefield do y’all need?’” Jacobson said.
“And I said, ‘How about all of it?’ I’m not sure he liked the answer,” he chuckled, “This is hallowed ground.”
Mayor Ken Moore, Tennessee Wars Commission Director Tim Hyder, and Tennessee State Historian Dr. Carroll Van West spoke about the process of reclaiming land that holds so much history. Jacobson said a portion of the money for the cannons was received through a grant from the Tennessee Wars Commission.
The cannons serve as a sobering reminder of the horrors of war, Jacobson said. “Everything we do is exponentially easier than what those who endured the period of 1861 to 1865 went through.”
He said a chunk of land in the park, extending to the Harpeth River, was the site of incredible carnage and more than 6,000 bodies by the end of the Battle of Franklin, The 153rd anniversary of the battle is coming up on November 30.
Jacobson estimated that about 5,000 of the casualties were Confederate troops.
“We often sort of sanitize war,” he said. “We have reenactments and we look at nice paintings and we read nice books. And the truth is, war is a hideous, horrible thing. They died in droves here.”
Jacobson then acknowledged the Union troops who eventually won. “These men, they saved the United States of America.”
Gary Chandler and his sister Mary Balthaser came to the cannon dedication because of their ancestral Union ties to the battlefield.
Chandler, who lives in Houston, said his ancestor Henry Herschner was a member of the 100th Ohio volunteer infantry who fought in the Battle of Franklin.
“They were in support of these guns,” he said, gesturing to the cannons. “These are the Kentucky battery.” Chandler said Herschner’s brothers Josiah and John also fought in the battle with the 1st Illinois light artillery.
Chandler is the previous president of the Houston Civil War Round Table. He visited Franklin last year for the Battle of Franklin Trust Symposium, and had planned his trip with his sister, who lives in Florida, around the Blue & Gray Days at the Carter House and Carnton Plantation.
He later realized the cannon dedication would take place on the same weekend.
“When I read more into it, it was just perfect,” he said. “This is the battle where my ancestors served.”