2017 Franklin Sultana Reunion Timeline

Here’s a summary of schedule events for the Franklin Sultana reunion. Since we meet only one time each year, I try to include as many interesting events, speakers, etc., as possible during our short time together. – Norman

A. FRIDAY EVENING TALKS–6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

I know you will enjoy these three speakers:

Eric Jacobson (30 minutes)–is the CEO of The Battle of Franklin Trust that was created a few years ago as an umbrella organization under which the Carter House and the Carnton Mansion operate. Eric has written at least two books about the fight at Franklin on November 30, 1864, and is one of the most knowledgeable individuals on the battle. Visit http://boft.org/

Eric’s talk will include a) the debacle at nearby Columbia, TN, on November 29th, where the Confederate Army missed a golden opportunity to capture or destroy General Schofield’s retreating Union Army. You need to know what happened at Columbia to fully understand the Battle of Franklin!

Eric will also talk about the recent archaeological dig at the Cotton Gin site which, among other things, discovered the rock foundation of the Cotton Gin–a site we will tour Saturday morning after we visit the Carter House.

Sam Huffman (20 minutes)–Sam has been involved in preservation efforts at Franklin for at least the last 30 years and will tell us about various victories (and probably some disappointments)! He has been a long time member of the Save the Battlefield Franklin (STBF), is currently VP of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, and on the Advisory Board of Franklin’s Charge.

Linda Derry (30 minutes)–As many know, a large number of the Sultana soldiers were former POWs at Cahaba, AL, especially the 3rd Tenn. Cavalry from the Knoxville area.

I’ve asked Linda Derry, sole Director of the Old Cahawba Archaeological Site since 1986, to tell us about Cahaba, including the prison camp. Linda will explain in her PowerPoint talk how Cahaba, the initial capital of Alabama from 1820-1825, located at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers, was once thriving, but later abandoned. For more information, go to http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/

NOTE: We will hold our 2018 Sultana reunion at Cahaba, (we will stay in nearby Selma) since it is the only major site connected to the Sultana story where we have not held a Sultana reunion!

This will be great timing since Alabama will be in the middle of a three-year bicentennial celebration of its statehood, 2017-2019! Our 2018 Sultana reunion at Cahaba and the Sultana story should receive extensive publicity! Visit www.Alabama200.org

Singing: I’m pleased that member Penny Schlaffler will be joining us again this year. Penny will lead us in some songs and hymns sung by the Sultana men both Friday and Saturday evenings.

Showing of Remember the Sultana documentary: 9:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m.–Optional

Mike Marshall contacted me a few weeks ago offering to show the Remember the Sultana documentary Friday night. Mike played an essential role in producing this excellent film that premiered at Memphis, TN, two years ago during our Marion, AR, Sultana reunion in remembrance of the 150th anniversary of the Sultana disaster. Go to http://www.sultanadocumentary.com/

This is an optional activity for the benefit of those who either have not seen the film or who did not qualify to receive the DVD during the Kickstarter fundraising drive. I’m pleased that Mike is now making this DVD available for purchase. He will have copies available for sale that evening and during the reunion (price yet to be determined).

B. SATURDAY TOUR–8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

I’ve reserved a 56 passenger coach bus for Saturday’s tour of the Franklin CW sites. We will start loading that morning at 7:30 and leave at 8 sharp!

The larger bus will be filled on a “first come, first serve basis.” In case there’s a large overflow, folks can reserve seats in a 25 seat minibus that I have on hold at the cost of $32 each, but it needs to be filled in order to break even. If that doesn’t happen, our members can follow the main bus in their vehicles as we’ve done in prior years.

Tour stops:

Stop 1–Carter House and grounds–8:30-10:00 a.m.

This site is the epicenter of the Franklin battle where the Confederates broke through the Union defenses only to be thrown back to the first Union line after savage charges and counter charges! The fighting lasted 5 hours that extending into the night.

There will be tour guides available to lead us, probably in two groups.

Cotton Gin site–10:15-11:00 a.m.

After the Carter House, we will cross over Columbia Ave. (either walk or bused over) to the site of the Cotton Gin that also saw intensive, close-quarter fighting. A recent archaeological dig there uncovered the stone foundation of the Cotton Gin thereby establishing its exact location during the battle.

This Cotton Gin area was created over a period of years that involved the purchase of several homes and a small commercial center that were all later razed to create the present reclaimed battleground area. Do a search on “Cotton Gin” at http://www.civilwar.org/land-preservation/

Waiting for us will be Julian Bibb, an attorney who spent many hours working on the purchase of the various buildings, who will give us the behind-the-scenes details that brought about these preservation successes.

Stop 2–Lunch at Winstead Hill–11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Winstead Hill is an important stop for any Franklin CW tour, but the challenge was how to include it in our tour! It occurred to me this would be a great place to have a catered picnic lunch (by Jason’s Deli).

See photos at https://www.yelp.com/biz/winstead-hill-park-franklin.

This is the hill from which Gen. John Bell Hood observed the ill-fated attack he ordered against the fortified defenses of the Union army. Today, the hill is basically a memorial to all the Confederate forces that participated in charging the Union lines, giving recognition to the various Southern states’ units involved and generals killed. Also can be found a covered relief map that helps explains the story.

Thanks to local resident and Sultana Assoc. member, Mark Tumblin, tables and chairs will be set up, but I also encourage the adventurous to bring blankets to spread out on the grassy hill that slopes down to the parking lot or to bring a portable easy chair that you use for outdoor events, like those set up at the Sultana monument ceremony last year. If the weather is bad, we can either eat on the bus or return to the motel meeting room.

My intention is that after eating lunch everyone will have time to visit the various monuments and remembrance stones.

Stop 3–Ft. Grainger–12:30-1:30 p.m. (find photos on-line)

This is the largest, well-preserved fort I’ve seen in the South! Several of it’s big guns fired effectively on the charging right flank of Hood’s army. Today, it’s a beautiful city park with easy access and light walking.

The fort is unique in several ways, all to be explained by local expert, Kraig McNutt!

Stop 4–Carnton Mansion and Confederate Cemetery–2:00-4:00 p. m.

The grounds of this beautiful, antebellum home were overrun by the Confederate’s right flank attack, with the mansion later turned into a hospital. It’s hisotrically known that here 4 brave Rebel generals killed during that day’s fighting were placed on the home’s porch, including Gen. Patrick Cleburne, admired by his troops and respected by the Southern army.

We will tour not only the mansion, but also the large Confederate cemetery, where nearly 1,500 dead were laid to rest by states.

Again, tour guides will be on hand to explain everything. We likely will be divided into two groups. Bathrooms and a gift/book store are on site.

Return to Motel–by 4:30 p.m. (or receive a late penalty!!)


After we finish our catered meal, Gene Salecker will be our featured speaker! You can expect another informative PowerPoint talk about some aspect of the Sultana story, except this year the topic is so good Gene’s keeping it confidential! I can’t wait to find out what it is!

To end the evening, we will have our customary candlelight ceremony led by Pam Newhouse, always a moving way to both remember everyone’s Sultana ancestor and to conclude our annual reunion.

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