Tod Carter, A Civil War Ghost Story – Franklin, Tennessee
The famous Captain Tod Carter had escaped from an old locomotive, he was being transported from a Union Soldier Prison on Johnson’s Island and being brought back home to fight the Battle at Franklin, Tennessee.
Captain Tod Carter, a famous Confederate States Army, had been took prisoner at Missionary Ridge. Captain Carter was one of thousands. Actually, there were more than six thousand Confederate captives that General Ulysses S. Grant sent to the north after the battles surrounding Chattanooga, Tennessee. Captain Carter’s long venture into Johnson’s Island was only the start of a sound-bound adventure that led him home to Franklin, Tennessee.
Future Captain Tod Carter joined the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment
Tod had enlisted in the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment, it had been formed by an older brother of his named ‘Moscow’. Colonel Moscow Branch Carter had mailed a letter to his brother Tod from Nashville on March 4, 1864. This letter provided more finite information on Tod’s capture. The letter was addressed to Captain Tod Carter, POW (Prisoner of War), Johnson’s Island, Ohio, Block 8, Mess No. 1.
The letter contained a good description of the Union occupation of Franklin, Tennessee, Moscow also added, “I have a little piece of news you many never have heard before. After your capture, your horse swam the river, and returned to camp in full rig. The boys thought for a long time you were killed, seeing your horse without you.”
However, Tod wasn’t still at the Johnson’s Island Prisoner Camp to read his brother’s letter when it was received. The story within his family is said that Tod had made a daring escape prior to it’s post date, “while crossing the State of Pennsylvania en route to a northern prison.” Tod, riding on a moving train in the pitch black northern night, Tod had pretended to be asleep, with his feet resting on the train window and his head was his seat companion’s lap.
Tod Brazenly Escapes from the Train
When a guard who had been patrolling the train looked the other way, Tod’s seating partner pushed him out the train window! When Tod’s absence became known, the train conductor stopped the train and a hunt for him scattered throughout the countryside. Much to Tod’s fortune, a northern farm couple found Tod and befriended him. Incognito, Tod moved his way up the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Memphis, Tennessee. From Memphis and on, Tod continued his trip to Dalton, Georgia, where his original enlisting party, the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment still lay encamped.
Almost seven months had passed and on November 28, 1864, Tod had held onto a paper that was signed by his commanding officer granting his permission to move ahead of his brigade and visit his home. Tod’s family was in Franklin, Tennessee, less than twenty five miles away.
Tod’s father had been waiting for him at home. His father was known as Fountain Branch Carter, aged 67. Tod’s older brother, Colonel Moscow, also a prisoner of war was at home as well on parole. Tod’s family also consisted of his four sisters and his beloved sister-in-law, nine nieces and nephews all very young. At his family home waited the farm animals and the good meals his servants prepared in the kitchen. As you could guess, he was very happy to be on his way back.
The Union Army at Tod’s Home in Tennessee
Unfortunately Tod’s family weren’t the only ones waiting at his home. Also at his home.. waited the Union Army. There was a Union Army of about twenty thousand men under General John M. Schofield who had marched to join the forces of General George H. Thomas at Nashville. During this trip, these troops encountered the Confederate Army under General John B. Hood and the battle of Franklin, Tennessee took place on the next day, November 30, 1864.
General Cox of the Union army had commandeered the Carter House to become a Federal Command post. Tod’s family somehow managed to warn off Captain Carter just as he had stopped at the home’s garden gate. Tod’s soldier duties as an Assistant Quartermaster were non-combatant, but that did not stop Tod from joining the battle. The Northern Soldiers had built breastworks across his father’s farm and had overrun his home. During this time, Tod feared for the safety of the Carter family in the overtaking.
Rosencrantz(Tod’s Horse), mounted by Captain Tod Carter’s steadfast and dashed through the Yankee works, through the guns of the Twentieth Ohio Battery. It was about five o’clock in the evening, Tod was in the lead of the charge in the center of Bate’s Division when Rosencrantz plunged forward, throwing Captain Tod over his head. Captain Tod hit the earth and without further movement. He had been mortally wounded to the head, about five-hundred feet south-west of his home. Right after the time of the midnight hour struck, the soldiers from both Union and Confederacy left the battle field, leaving their dead to rest in battle and the wounded to suffer.
Captain Tod is Found by his Family
After the battle the Carter family along with their servants, their neighbors and the Albert Lotz family emerged up from the cellar, all were unharmed and thanking God for their well-being and status. Before the families could finish their prayers in thanking god, a Confederate soldier came with the news that Captain Tod Carter still lay wounded on the battle field. Tod’s family climbed over the breastworks and trenches carrying old gasoline lanterns. It was just before the daybreak when they had found Tod, he was still laying on the cold ground, incoherently calling out a friend Sgt. Cooper’s name. Nearby lay Captain Tod’s horse, Rosencranz, large, grey and beautiful even in death.
Nathan Morris, Captain of Litter bearers, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. L.M. Bailey of Alabama moved Captain Tod into what was left of the family room, wrecked by war.
The regimental surgeon Dr. Deering Roberts probed for a bullet in Tod’s skull while his young nieces Alice Adelaide McPhail and Lena Carter held over a candle and small lamp. Despite any efforts of his family and Dr. Roberts, Tod Carter still met death on December 2, 1864, at the young age of only twenty four years-old. Tod died in the front sitting room across the hall from the bedroom where he had been born.
Till this day, there have been stories and legends of the battles of this war. Old artifacts of bullets, knives and shells found from the battlefield only confirm these tales. Some say you can still hear the gunfire in the Tennessee hills where Captain Carter charged upon the Union Army, taking many lives and giving his own. Some stories say you can hear his horse Rosencranz galloping in the woods on the old Carter farm, reliving the battle time and time again.