“ground zero for the battle of franklin”
In 1855, German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz, purchased 5 acres of land from Fountain Branch Carter. Lotz, a classically trained master woodworker from Saxony, completed his home three years later. By trade, Mr. Lotz was a master carpenter and a piano maker. He also repaired guitars and violins. His home, served as his “show house” to demonstrate his carpentry work to potential clients interested in hiring him for his services. The three fireplace mantles demonstrated his range from simple to very complex designs, all of them are carved from different kinds of wood. In addition, the home has an impressive free floating, black walnut wrap around hand rail and cantilevered staircase. To accomplish this engineering feat in the mid 19th century is truly remarkable. What’s more, the newel post at the bottom of the staircase is actually an inverted leg of one Mr. Lotz pianos. The outside of the home indeed is a testament to Mr. Lotz talent. All the hand carved acorn finials; millwork and cartouches were constructed by Lotz. The house, which has been on the National Historic Register since 1976 is located in the heart of downtown historic Franklin, Tennessee at “ground zero” of the Battle of Franklin which was a pivotal battle in the American Civil War. On the night of November 29, 1864 approximately 25,000 Northern soldiers retreated from Spring Hill, Tennessee into Franklin, Tennessee. These troops quickly dug protective trenches south of the Lotz House and waited to see if they would be attacked by the Confederate army. When the Lotz family awakened on the morning of November 30, in effect the Federal Line had been established in their front yard. Mr. Lotz, fearing that his family, his wife Margaretha, his sons Paul and Augustus and daughter Matilda would not survive the battle in their “wooden house,” they sought refuge 110 steps across the street in the brick basement of The Carter House. For 17 hours while the battle raged all around them, the Lotz along with 20 other people remained safe and survived. When they exited the basement the next morning, they were horrified to see the bodies of dead soldiers six feet deep between The Carter House and their home across the street. Indeed, historians describe the fighting that took place at the Battle of Franklin and in the Lotz front yard “some of the most severe hand to hand fighting during the four year long war.” When the dust had settled the body count would be horrific. Ten thousand Americans had been killed, wounded or missing. The Lotz House served as a hospital for the wounded soldiers on both sides until the following summer. To this day, one can step into the Lotz House and see numerous blood stains in all of the room. The house itself suffered severe battle damage, but as the structure served as Lotz’ “show house,” he was quick to make repairs. However, some of the battle scars remain. During the battle a solid shot cannon ball crashed through the roof, smashing into the floor of an upstairs bedroom and down to the first floor. The large repaired patch made by Mr. Lotz remains in the second floor. And on the first floor where the cannon ball finally came to rest one can clearly see where the hot lead ball first hit, burning the floor then rolled.
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