Strip mall demolished to 'reclaim' Franklin battlefield, from tennessean.com

by Jill Cowan
Originally published on tennessean.com on November 29, 2014

The demolition of the building and the purchase of the site, which stretches over a little more than an acre, were major steps forward in a larger effort to protect a 112-acre chunk of the battlefield.
— Jill Cowan on tennessean.com

The Confederate Monument on the Square at Sunset

Williamson County photographer Mark Lucas has recently released a stunning photograph, The Confederate Monument on the Square at Sunset, and is selling 16×20 giclee prints on canvas to raise funds to support Franklin’s Charge. Each print is $175, and Franklin’s Charge will receive 20 percent of the proceeds to utilize for the establishment of the Carter Cotton Gin Battlefield Park. Please call (615) 595-0636 for more information.

“Heading Back Home” Film Returns to Franklin Theatre for Encore on Nov. 30

Three Showings Coincide with Anniversary of the Battle; Film-maker to Moderate Panel Discussion

“A Must-see film…”   

“Every living, breathing American should see this…”

“Tells the story of the Battle of Franklin like never before…”

Those who weren’t able to purchase tickets for the sold-out premiere of the film Heading Back Home: Franklin’s Unknown Soldier and the Civil War’s Five Bloodiest Hours are getting a second chance to see it on the big screen. The Franklin Theatre will hold three encore showings of the film on Nov. 30 – the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin – with the evening showing followed by a panel discussion.

“There has been so much pent-up demand around this film that we wanted to provide another opportunity for the public to experience it at the Franklin Theatre,” said Sara Preston, Program Director for the theater. “It made good sense to tie in with the anniversary of the battle for the encore presentation.”

The film will be shown at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 30, with the evening showing to include a panel discussion with Battle of Franklin Trust Director of Operations Eric Jacobson, Lotz House Foundation President J.T. Thompson, and Columbia State History Professor Thomas Flagel. Brian Speciale, who wrote, directed and produced the film with his wife, Jodi Jones-Speciale, will moderate the discussion.

Tickets are available now at www.franklintheatre.com, with the early showings at $5 and the 7 p.m. presentation for $12.

Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce says the film has added a new dimension to the story of what happened in Franklin on November 30, 1864.

“Viewing this film is the best and most enjoyable way to gain an understanding of the Battle of Franklin, and it’s so important that people of all ages understand our history,” Pearce said. “The discovery of the soldier’s remains and the way the community honored his sacrifice illustrated that our history matters to our citizens. I encourage everyone who hasn’t yet seen the film to come. You won’t be disappointed.”

DVDs of the film are also available at www.battleoffranklintrust.org, or in the gift shops at the Carter House and Carnton Plantation.

Franklin Theatre to Premier Long-awaited Film on Franklin’s Unknown Soldier

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Two years after thousands of people lined Franklin’s downtown streets to honor the sacrifice of an unknown Civil War soldier recovered from the battlefield, the long-awaited premiere of the film chronicling the event and its impact has arrived.

“Heading Back Home: Franklin’s Unknown Soldier and the Civil War’s Five Bloodiest Hours” will be shown to the public for the first time at the Franklin Theatre on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $35, with proceeds donated to battlefield preservation efforts in Franklin.

Emmy Award-winning film producers Brian Speciale and Jodi Jones-Speciale – a husband and wife team who had recently moved to Franklin when the remains were uncovered from a shallow grave during a construction project in the summer of 2009 – offered to document the process of planning a period funeral befitting of an American soldier whose fate had been unknown for 145 years.

But the film became so much more, shedding new light on the historically overlooked Battle of Franklin, considered the bloodiest and most brutal five hours of the entire Civil War.  As author and historian Eric Jacobson said after previewing the film, it tells the story of the Battle of Franklin like “it’s never been told before.”

The detailed maps, recreated battle scenes, expert accounts, original music and narration from legendary actor Lee Majors take “Heading Back Home” beyond a lesson in history – it’s a lesson in life.

“The gravity of the discovery of the remains and the way it captured public interest was a touching moment in time, an overwhelming response from across the nation that brought long-deserved attention to the horrors that this soldier and tens of thousands of others endured here at Franklin,” says Jacobson, who serves as director of operations for the Battle of Franklin Trust. “Brian and Jodi have captured that emotion in the context of history and modern times in a way that I didn’t think possible. The film is spectacular in every way, and not to be missed.”

Tickets are available at the Franklin Theatre box office and at www.franklintheatre.com. Cabaret and classic seats are $25, with balcony seats available for $35.

State Helps Fund Battlefield Road

By Gregory L. Wade
(September 2011 Civil War News)

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Franklin civic leaders, historians and preservationists are encouraged by a recent allocation of $500,000 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to be applied to construction of a Battle of Franklin park “loop road.”

This road would provide access for interpretation of acreage crossed by the Confederate right flank during the Army of Tennessee’s attack in the Nov. 30, 1864, battle.

Paul Gaddis, president of the local preservation group Franklin’s Charge, said the grant is “a huge step for us to have this ground interpreted by the battle’s sesquicentennial and is an incredible move by the state.”

Since 2005, the 110 acres of battleground locally known as the Eastern Flank has reverted from an 18-hole golf course to grassy meadows and walking trails that play host to walkers and dogs chasing Frisbees. the Franklin Parks Department manages the site.

The bucolic scene is not what local preservationists intended when the land was purchased at a cost of $5 million thanks to an effort led by Franklin’s Charge and matched with Franklin city funds.

The non-profit coalition made up of several local groups was organized in 2005 when the opportunity to purchase the land came up. The group remains active in land preservation and interpretation of battle ground in the Franklin and Williamson County area.

The loop road is the last major step in building an interpreted park. The city had previously earmarked $360,000 for the loop. Alderman Michael Skinner’s effort to obtain an additional $500,000, is moving through the city aldermen budgeting and voting process.

Skinner said the cost of the road is not yet determined and a lot depends on the road specifications as well as how much total funding is received.

At the state grant announcement, a crowd of over 200 listened as Governor Bill Haslam, joined by other local and state dignitaries, announced the grant.

He said, “Tennessee’s Civil War battlefields are wonderful educational destinations,” and noted the work of local leaders. “The community owns the project and then we can come in and help,” Haslam said.

The state’s $500,000 will help to create additional momentum when added with the city’s $360,000 to obtain the remaining funds for what is estimated to be a $1.5 million project.

The proposed loop road, almost a mile in length, would enter the grounds near the original access to the Carnton Plantation bordering the park property to the south. In addition to providing access and battle interpretation, Skinner noted, “It will take traffic off the current access which winds through a residential neighborhood and will provide access to the Carnton Plantation as well.”

Residents, tourists and historians had begun to wonder if an interpreted battlefield park would come to fruition since it has been over five years since the country club was purchased to prevent the land from becoming an upscale housing development.

While the state grant would not be used for actual interpretative makers and displays, many believe once the road is finished various Civil war groups will begin donating funds for signage and markers.

“That’s the easy part,” says Skinner, “but we had to have the road first or there is no reason to ask for help with the actual interpretation.”

At the ceremony author Robert Hicks, a founder of Franklin’s Charge whose book Widow of the South helped put the battle property on the preservation map, recognized the efforts of the coalition groups and the partnership with the Civil War Trust.

He told the gathering Trust President James Lighthizer called the Eastern Flank “the largest private public cooperative effort in the history of Civil War preservation.”

 Franklin’s Charge is active in purchasing other properties and believes the loop road will help spur those efforts along as well.