The Story of Tod Carter


Capt. Theodrick “Tod” Carter, Soldier in the CSA

Tod Carter – Home at Last

“I am almost home! Come with me, boys!
They could hear Tod shout above the noise
Of the cannons’ boom , and shreiking shells,
The exploding bombs, and Rebel yells!

The Battle rages until near midnight;
The women prayed. By dawn’s faint light
They found him lying among the dead;
He was wounded in the charge he led.

He was carried through the garden gate,
While they sobbed in words, compassionate,
“Our sad hearts ached as the long years passed,
Now our brother has come home at last!”

Written by a descendant of Tod Carter, Dr. Roslie Carter.

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Tod Enlists in the Confederate Army
In the spring of 1861 there were often heard in the quiet village of Franklin the shrill sound of the fife, the clatter of horses’s hoofs, the muffled roll of drums, and the electrifying notes of the bugle. They were heard on May 18, for another military company was being formed down in front of Rainey’s store near the railroad. The tall fellow who was organizing the group was thirty-five-year-old Moscow Carter, Tod Carter’s older brother, who was chosen Captain. Fifteen years before he had served one year as a Private in the United States Army during our war with Mexico. One of the recruits that day was Tod Carter who had turned the key, locking the door to the bookcase that held his law books, closing his promising career as a young lawyer. Ten days later the company which was given the designation “H”, was sworn into service and sent to Camp Trousdale on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

But on May 1, shortly before Company “H” left for camp, both Tod and Moscow Carter became Master Masons, as shown by the report of the Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons. Many soldiers became Master Masons under a special dispensation that permitted the Lodge to confer all three degrees at once, without the twenty-eight day waiting period usually required. The solemn ceremony took place on the second floor of the Masonic Hall on Second Avenue, then called Cameron Street, the home of Hiram Lodge No. 7, from 1823 to the present. Tod’s Masonic Manual which he carried all through the War has been preserved.

When ten companies had arrived at Camp Trousdale, the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment, Volunteer Infantry, Confederate States Army, was organized, and Tod’s older brother, Moscow, was elected Lt. Colonel. Tod’s younger brother, Francis Watkins or “Wad” Carter, eighteen and a half years of age, who had enlisted earlier on May 9 in company “D” of the First Tennessee Regiment, was transferred to the Twentieth as soon as possible. The regiment spent several weeks at Camp Trousdale, drilling, marching….. and having measles.

In August 1861, before the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment had seen its first action, which was to occur September 19, at Barboursville, Kentucky, a Captain of the United States Navy, accused of being a spy,was apprehended in East Tennessee. On orders from the Confederate War Department, the suspected spy was taken to Richmond, Virginia, by Capt. W. M. Clark of Company “B” Zollicoffer Guards, and delivered to Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy. Among the companions selected to accompany Capt. Clark were Tod Carter, W. H. Matthews, and W. S. Battle. The whole Regiment, it is said, wanted to go!

Capt. Clark wrote a letter to his wife from Richmond, which was in the Tennessee Historical Quarterly dated March 1952. From this letter we learn how greatly impressed these young soldiers were with the magnificence of the Exchange Hotel in Richmond, with its immense mirrors, marble floors, and gurgling fountains. In the dining room of the hotel one evening the soldiers spotted Ex-President Tyler. They imagined every important-looking person they saw to be a celebrity. They visited the Virginia State Capitol where they saw the bronze equestrian statue of George Washington by Crawford. They toured the armory where cannon, cannon balls, and muskets were being manufactured. Then they walked down to the Navy Yard to get their first view of a real ship. After their prisoner was delivered to Mr. Mallory, the men re-joined their Regiment which was no longer at Camp Trousdale. From the diary kept by Tod’s brother, Lt. Col. Moscow Branch Carter, we learn something of the life in an army camp for the three Carter boys. He traces the army’s line of march in East Tennessee and Kentucky. An entry dated November 30, 1861 mentions cold winds, freezing rain and snow, with soldiers being compelled to sleep on the bare earth, with scanty covering, beneath gauzy tents.

By December 2 a position for a new camp had been reached at Mill Springs, Wayne County, Kentucky, a hamlet on the south side of the Cumberland River. Sleeping on the frozen ground, the men of the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment, and others, camped until enough flat boats could be built to take them across the River.

As Christmas neared Moscow described the exciting preparations being made for a cock-fight and a big feast! But an entry on December 14 states that on that day Tod, now a Provost Marshal, had started to Nashville in command of a lot of Union prisoners, accompanied by Dr. Dan Cliffe, Regimental Surgeon. Thus Tod missed the celebration of his first Christmas in the Army. He returned to camp on January 3, 1862.

It was from Camp Beech Grove, across the river, on January 9,1862, that Tod wrote a letter to his good friend, Dick Bostick, who lived at “Everbright,” as the Bostick place was called, just one-half mile from the Carter House. (As far as is known this is the only letter written by Tod which has been preserved, and for its preservation we are indebted to his great niece, the late Mrs. Mary Britt of Franklin. It is deeply hoped that other letters may someday be found.)

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