Help Us Unearth Your History

9 Oct

Carter House - Cotton Gin

Dear friends and readers,

We are currently excavating the main trench line at the epicenter of the 1864 Battle of Franklin, and we are also trying to find the base of the iconic Cotton Gin that stood nearby (See above image).

We need $20,000 to continue this invaluable work (images below), headed by archaeologist Dr. Larry McKee of TRC Solutions Archaeology. Please give a tax-deductable donation to this project, coordinated by myself through the preservation group Franklin’s Charge, or even just a letter of support to:

Franklin’s Charge (Memo: Archaeology)

604 W. Main Street

Franklin, TN 37064

You can also donate online through

BACKGROUND: Dr. Larry McKee and his team have been surveying the Cotton Gin site in Franklin, the iconic epicenter of the 1864 Battle of Franklin (see images below), where nearly 10,000 casualties fell in less than five hours. It is also the site where humans were enslaved before and during the war and sought freedom thereafter. By the 1880s, the gin site hosted a school for higher learning. In many ways, we are all connected to the story of this place, and nothing brought that home to me like Dr. McKee’s initial report:

“Thomas. Along with all the military artifacts…we did come across some small fragments of human bone, including what looked like fragmented but articulated (still together) elements from an ankle and lower leg, a fragment from the top of a femur (thigh bone) and a skull fragment. All of these were in the soil filling the ditch, rather than embedded in the floor. The attached page from the 2009 report supplies my thoughts on these fragments – body parts dismembered by gun and artillery fire during the battle, uncollected during the removal of the dead [in summer and fall 1866].”

Dr. Larry McKee, Sept. 28, 2014

His team found at least forty yards of the original Union trench line, and he is asking for two more weeks to complete his work in hopes of finding the old cotton gin foundation and more elements of the life and loss of that hallowed ground.

Below are images of the great progress made this far. Please support this, and ask me any questions you have.

Thanks in advance.

Thomas Flagel

Franklin’s Charge Board of Directors, and assistant professor of History at Columbia State Community College.

  Sept 12 2014 excavation Carter Hill trenchline Cotton Gin site June 2014Sept 12 2014 excavation Carter Hill and BGA foundationCotton Gin site sept 5 2014

News on the History Buff’s Guide Series

1 Sep

I am excited to report that the Kindle edition of History Buff’s Guide to the Presidents is doing very well. Not only is it currently #470 in the entire Kindle Store on, but it is #1 in the Presidents & Heads of State subcategory.

The book version is also doing well, and is #1 in the subcategories of Historical Study & Educational Resources>Reference, as well as Politics & Social Science>Politics & Government>United States>Executive Branch.

Thank you to all of you for your continued support and encouragement. It means so much.

A Civil War Site Reclaimed

11 Aug

At last, the house that sat upon the Battle of Franklin cotton gin site will be moved tonight! Many thanks to Southern Home Movers, who took on this job just a few days ago, replacing a less responsive company. Hard work and history triumph. Archaeological work will begin soon at this iconic place.

Blue House  move


Signs of New Imagination

25 Jul

Born in the era of punch cards and vacuum tubes, I marvel at technology’s keen ability to accelerate its own growth. As we embark to create new trail signs in Franklin and elsewhere, digital breakthroughs are leaping their way onto our old placards. Take for example Fort Granger, the Union Civil War Fort at Franklin and the object of my dissertation. For students and tourists, the best we could do in the past was to show this geometric jumble of a two dimensional map.    

Ft Granger old map Then there came Google Earth, which enabled us to show the fortification today, albeit carpeted with trees and surrounded by buildings…

Google map of Fort Granger Now, we can unearth this fortress and bring it back to life, thanks to the breakthrough of Lidar. With pinpoint precision, here is the long-hidden body of Ft. Granger, with its bastions and moats, set upon a treeless and barren landscape, towering above the Harpeth River, just as it once did at the height of the Civil War.

(Image by Jake Harvey, GIS Engineer, City of Franklin).        

  West Point No Veg Elev

Delaying History

21 Jul

At the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin stood the Carter family cotton gin. As the 150th anniversary of the battle nears, various groups have labored to reclaim that historic spot, including the removal of a house that sat atop the old gin site. Contracted to move that house by the end of last March were Wp Camp & Sons. After some progress, they have stalled. It is now July 21, nearly four months after the designated deadline.  


July 21 Blue House   

Progress on Civil War Fort Granger

19 Jul

Things are happening at Fort Granger.  Yesterday, City of Franklin Parks began constructing a new ADA-compliant bridge into the site, and the Tennessee Wars Commission was on hand to conduct archaeology. By the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, the Parks Department and I will also have new interpretive signs for the refurbished park. A long-hidden story will emerge again.TN Wars Commission at Ft Granger 7 17 2014

A World Cup for…

13 Jul

Arguably the most prestigious sporting trophy on earth has changed hands today, passing from former champions Spain to – for the fourth time – the national team of Germany. Having a love of the game nearly as deep as my Germanic roots, I was quite happy with the result.

And this win has come via a new nation. A quick look at the roster reveals that this is not your Opa’s Deutschland.

Playing perhaps his greatest football yet was defender Jerome Boateng, son of a Ghanan father. Setting a record for most career World Cup goals (16) was the perpetually humble Miroslav Klose, born in Poland. Midfield play-maker Sami Khedira missed the final due to a freak injury during warm-ups, but his work in preceding games made this son of a Tunisian one of the key pieces of Germany’s evolutionary success. Turkish-German Mesut Oezil was not at his best, perhaps overused by his club side in England’s Premier League. Compensating for his exhaustion were substitutes Lukas Podolski, born in Poland, and Shkodran Mustafi, born in Germany from Albanian parentage.

      When asked how they were able to succeed in this most entertaining and competitive tournament, the overriding consensus among the players is that they were able to fuse their talents as a team. 

Of course, all of this might be called into question had they not advanced out of the group stage, but the undeniable evidence prevails that this nation – the most successful economy in Europe, and now the champions of the world sport – has porous borders, and is not weakened by it. 


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