Nearly a decade after Civil War preservationists rallied to acquire a former golf course on the Eastern Flank of the Battle of Franklin, the community is set to dedicate its first fully interpreted battlefield park. State and local officials will hold a dedication ceremony on Thursday, April 3 at 10 a.m. at the park.
The Loop Road that was completed last year for public access to the 110-acre park has now been enhanced by 20 interpretive signs and three kiosks around the property that tell the story of what happened there in 1864, thanks to a $240,000 grant from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. Local historians Thomas Flagel, Eric Jacobson and Rick Warwick collaborated to research and present compelling facts about the battle and its aftermath through the interpretive signage.
“The preservation effort in Franklin has attracted so much state and national support because it’s very rare to see a community come together like this to save its history,” said Dr. Carroll Van West, state historian and director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. “The level of momentum leading up the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin is incredible, and we are pleased to be a part of it.”
The non-profit organization Franklin’s Charge formed in 2004, when the former Country Club of Franklin golf course was threatened by development. Representing Civil War preservation with one voice, the group raised nearly $7 million to acquire the property. Organizations including the American Battlefield Protection Program, the Civil War Trust and several private donors made the purchase possible, and the property was given to the City of Franklin for use as a park. Since then, the City Parks department has done extensive work to the site, enhancing it for the benefit of citizens and the thousands of visitors who come each year to learn more about Franklin’s Civil War history.
Stacey Suzanne Watson, director of Franklin’s Charge, has been involved from the beginning, helping lead a fundraising effort that has folded in numerous organizations focused on various aspects. The interpretive signage project is a crowning achievement for the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park; Watson says it represents a significant moment in time.
“It’s rewarding to see children and parents walking the property and reading the signs and learning about what happened 150 years ago,” Watson said. “Our history matters to our future, and we’ve come so far with the support of so many partners. The Sesquicentennial is a once-in-a-lifetime event for Franklin, and for America.”
At the April 3 dedication event, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, author and historian Robert Hicks, Columbia State Professor Thomas Flagel, attorney and philanthropist Julian Bibb, Tennessee Commissioner of Transportation John Schroer, and State Historian Dr. Carroll Van West will offer remarks on the project and its significance. The event will begin at 10 a.m., and the public is encouraged to attend.
The Eastern Flank Battlefield Park is located at 1368 Eastern Flank Circle in Franklin, off of Lewisburg Pike and adjacent to Carnton Plantation.
For more information on events related to the Sesquicentennial, please visit www.franklin150.com.