Hearings and Business Meetings

Jun 28 2005

10:00 AM

Subcommittee on National Parks

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM

Tom Miller

Mayor, City of Franklin

Mayor, City of Franklin
Franklin, Tennessee


TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2005


Mr. Chairman and honorable committee members, thank you for the invitation to testify today about Senate Bill 955, which is a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study regarding the inclusion of sites related to the Battle of Franklin in the National Park System.  I’m Tom Miller, the Mayor of Franklin, Tennessee.  Today, I will briefly share with you the significance of the Battle of Franklin as well as the current situation and local support for this effort.  

The Battle of Franklin took place on November 30, 1864, forever changing our community’s history and that of our nation.  Today, American’s are renewing their love of country, while exploring our history and historic sites.  Of the 384 significant conflicts that occurred during the Civil War, only 3.7% are considered principal battles.  Franklin, while considered one of these principal battles, has a story that is lesser known than many others that it matches in significance, such as Gettysburg or Manassas, and, unfortunately, much of the battlefield itself has been lost to development.  The community has been given a historic opportunity to take a step toward righting this wrong and reclaiming a significant piece of the battlefield.   

Why are these sites significant?
On the afternoon of November 30, General Hood, over the objection of at least three of his generals, ordered his Army of Tennessee to charge the well-fortified Union line directly in front of them.  During the roughly five hours of the battle, fought mostly in the dark, six Confederate Generals were lost and well over 9,000 casualties were recorded.  A private who fought that day said of the battle, “the private soldier sleeps where he fell, piled in one mighty heap….  I cannot tell the number of others killed and wounded.  God alone knows that.  We’ll all find out on the morning of the final resurrection.”  By the end of November 30, 1864, the Army of Tennessee was no longer a cohesive fighting force. 

In addition to the crucial role the Battle of Franklin played in the demise of the Confederacy, several key interpretive themes are identified in the Franklin Battlefield Preservation Plan recently completed through a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program.  These themes include the “level of carnage”, “the significant loss of generals”, “Hood’s recklessness” as well as non-combat related themes such as “the community as a hospital,” “occupied Franklin” and “Reconstruction”.  Franklin, as an urban battlefield, has a unique opportunity to interpret the story of not only the fighting itself but of the aftermath and the impact on the community.  In a very real sense, the reconciliation of our great nation began in Franklin, Tennessee:  North and South, Blacks and Whites, brothers and brothers.  
Several of the sites associated with the Battle of Franklin are part of the Franklin Battlefield National Historic Landmark.  This includes “four non-contiguous properties associated with various aspects of the conduct of the…Battle of Franklin.”  The sites are the Carter House, the Carnton Plantation and the adjacent Confederate Cemetery, Winstead Hill and Fort Granger.  Additional information about these sites has been submitted for the record, including a map.

Today, this Battlefield has a chance for reclamation.  Private citizens and the City of Franklin are working side by side to undertake one of the largest Civil War battlefield reclamation projects in the country. 

What are the physical details of the site as well as its current use?
We intend to acquire the Country Club of Franklin property consisting of 112 acres currently used as a golf course.  It is the largest single remaining parcel of the battlefield.  This property, which was the Eastern Flank of the battlefield, is adjacent to the Carnton Plantation and the Confederate Cemetery.   

What is Franklin requesting from the National Park Service?
The City of Franklin will purchase the golf course with the intention of turning this property and other already publicly owned properties into a battlefield park.  The country club property will serve as the starting point for visitors to the Franklin Battlefield.  From here, they will get an overview of the battle before visiting the many other important related sites.  We are asking that the National Park Service undertake a feasibility study to consider the inclusion of these sites in the National Park System.  We see opportunities for shared resources with Stones River National Battlefield Park in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and we offer a wealth of interpretive resources from our own community, such as local Battle of Franklin historians and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area at Middle Tennessee State University.

What local support is there for the effort to create a battlefield park?
The City of Franklin has local support both in our community, as well as other areas around the country.  Franklin’s Charge, a non-profit coalition of preservation-related organizations formed to secure half the funding, which will be matched by the City, for the purchase of the country club property.  Franklin’s Charge includes representatives from
 Save the Franklin Battlefield,
 Historic Carnton Plantation,
 The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County,
 The Carter House,
 Williamson County Historical Society,
 Williamson County African-American Historical Society,
 The Harpeth River Watershed Association,
 Tennessee Land Trust,
 Tennessee Preservation Trust, and
 Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Senate Bill 955 is timely and warranted, providing the opportunity to properly assess these resources and chart an appropriate course of action.  Therefore, the City of Franklin is in full support of the legislation introduced by Senators Frist and Alexander, which has the opportunity to benefit the citizens of this great country for generations to come.  Thank you for your consideration.  I am available for any questions you might have.