Mary Alice McPhail Nichol


Mary Nichol experienced the November 30, 1864 Battle of Franklin from her grandfather Fountain Branch Carter’s cellar. Learning that Federal forces were heading up the Columbia Pike for Franklin with Gen. John Bell Hood and the Army of Tennessee in hot pursuit, Carter prepared to defend family and property. With the help of slaves, Carter dug a hole in the cellar for meat, potatoes, and other food and hid it under planks. He covered window openings with rolls of rope to keep bullets out. The family, slaves, and neighbors sheltered in the cellar, listening to the cacophony of musket fire and booming cannons. During the five-hour engagement Federal troops attempted to take cover in the cellar, and Carter forced them out, blocking the door with a plank. After the fighting, Carter cleared out troops sheltering on the stairs, and the family emerged around 1 or 2 a.m. to find absolute hell all around. “I remember when day came the awful sight […]” writes Mary, “men dead lying in the yard. One was sitting up dead against a sweet apple tree […] another dead to the left of the front door.” They found Gen. Patrick Cleburne dead astride Federal breastworks, “such an awful odor of blood and gun powder” forcing Mary into the arms of her mother. “I remember seeing the negroes raking up the bullets in our yard.” Her beloved uncle, Confederate Captain Theodrick “Tod” Carter, lay unconscious in the backyard, “shot nine times into both arms and legs and a ball over his left eye. […] I can see his limp legs and arms now with his captain’s uniform and cavalry boots and spurs.” Tod passed in and out of consciousness for two days before succumbing. Mary concludes, “I can see Uncle Tod lying in the parlor in the last casket […] in Franklin with a bandage across his head. They had had a simple service at home, and carried him off and buried him on Sunday. All that is mortal of Tod Carter now rests in Rest Haven Cemetery, waiting to […] answer the final roll call.”

  • Granddaughter of Fountain Carter, niece of Tod Carter, eyewitness to the Battle of Franklin