Franklin News: Franklin needs to stop paving over its history:
‘Franklin needs to stop paving over its history’:
Preservation groups join to save Franklin’s battlefields
By WILL JORDAN / Associate Editor of The Review Appeal
Save the Franklin Battlefield spokesman Sam Huffman,
Civil War Preservation Trust President James Lighthizer and
Carter House Museum Executive Director Thomas Cartwright
discuss the future of Franklin’s battlefields. (Will Jordan / Staff)
“Franklin needs to stop paving over its history,” remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. “Putting up a few historical markers is not enough. We must preserve the hallowed ground where the dead of Franklin fought and bled.”
Lighthizer added that historical preservation doesn’t have to be the driving force behind saving the Civil War battlefields in Franklin.
“You don’t have to do this because you care about the heritage or open space [in Franklin],” he said. “Do it for tourism. Tourism brings people and people bring money.”
Rutherford County Tourism Council member Shirley Jones, who sat in the audience Wednesday, echoed Lighthizer’s point.
“Heritage tourism does pay,” she said. “One hundred twenty-three million tourism dollars were spent last year [in Rutherford County].”
Franklin Battlefield was recently identified as one of the 10 most endangered battlefields in the nation by CWPT.
Last week, Franklin appeared in America’s Most Endangered Battlefields, a CWPT report that lists the most endangered battlefields in the nation and what can be done to save them. The battlefields identified in the report were chosen based on location, military significance and the immediacy of current threats.
Joining Lighthizer at the news conference was STFB spokesman Sam Huffman and Carter House Museum Executive Director Thomas Cartwright. According to Huffman, “The Confederate Army never recovered from the Battle of Franklin. Six Southern generals were killed or mortally wounded in the attack.”
The Battle of Franklin, fought on Nov. 30, 1864, was “one of the most agonizing defeats suffered by the South during the Civil War,” according to Lighthizer.
“Rebel forces were ordered to make a frontal assault against a nearly impregnable line of earthworks manned by Federal troops,” he said. “The result was a bloody conflagration that cost nearly 10,000 casualties.
“Today, Franklin Battlefield is all but gone,” he added. “Only a few opportunities remain to save portions of the battlefield.”
“You don’t have to glorify death to remember [those who fought] ... but it’s hard to remember them when you have to look over restaurants and pizza parlors,” added Cartwright. “With everyone’s help we can help keep these brave American spirits alive.”
Last year, STFB purchased a 3.2-acre parcel near the east end of the main trench line. However, a chance to save land adjacent to the Harrison House was lost despite substantial public support for protection of the property.
The group has recently headed up an effort to preserve the Battle Ground Academy property as a battlefield park.
“We think the BGA site should be kept as open space and used as a museum,” Huffman said. “We could create a first-rate museum in a matter of just a few months or years.”
Huffman does think Williamson County is in need of a bigger library, but thinks it could be built elsewhere.
“I think next to the new parking garage would be a great place,” he said.
Members of the audience were upset over the lack of turnout of city and county officials.
“No county or city officials were present here today, even though each were personally invited to attend,” said Dan Mora, an STFB board member.
STFB is a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving and promoting Civil War sites in Williamson County. CWPT is a 38,000-member nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting endangered Civil War battlefields throughout the United States. STFB’s Web site is located at www.franklin-stfb.org; CWPT is available online at www.civilwar.org.