Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank / McGavock Slaves and the Civil War

Marker ID:  
Location: 1368 Eastern Flank Cir, Franklin, TN
County: Williamson
Coordinates: N 35° 54.347    W 086° 51.551
  35.90578333    -86.85918333
Waymark: None


Battle of Franklin, Eastern Flank
McGavock Slaves and the Civil War

Of Tennessee’s 83 counties in 1860, only in three did slaves outnumber whites. Two were near the Mississippi Rover, where large plantations flourished. The third was Williamson County.

The McGavocks of Carnton, who owned 39 people in 1860, were among the wealthiest slaveholders. At the time, most of the people working in these fields around the plantation were slaves. This changed early in 1862, as Union and Confederate armies surged into Middle Tennessee and Franklin itself. In response, many slave owners sent their laborers southward. John McGavock sent all but a few of his slaves to Alabama and Louisiana, in hopes of keeping them away from the Union army as long as possible.

Owners who kept their slaves on site rented them out as needed. Dr. Samuel Henderson, who lived just southeast of here on the Lewisburg Pike, was one such owner. On several occasions, he leased his slaves to the McGavocks. As Henderson stated in his diary, slaves escaping to freedom continued to be a problem:

February 16, 1862. My boy Jack with John Hughes’ Isaac and Adam and two boys from Dr. Hughes ran off last night and have no doubt gone to Nashville to the Federals.

June 18, 1863. My boy Austin left home and is gone to the Federals.

November 6, 1864. My black girl Jane of about seventeen years of age ran off this day and I suppose is gone to Nashville.

Population in 1860

White: 826,722
Slaves: 275,719

Williamson County:
White: 11,315
Slaves: 12, 467

In 1860, Williamson County reported more than $13 million in taxable wealth. Over $5 million of this was in the form of slaves.

Erected Tennessee Civil War Trails.

[This marker may also be found on HMDB.org]