To the Editor:
During my more than a half-century as a resident of Williamson County and Franklin, I have always admired the Franklin Square.
The monument with “Chip,” along with the four Federal cannons, has always seemed to be a fitting symbol for the City of Franklin, the site of the horrific 1864 Battle of Franklin. It provides a strikingly beautiful greeting to one entering downtown Franklin. The Franklin Square is a battle site.
This monument represents the common Confederate soldier, the soldier in the ranks. In 1899, the Daughters of the Confederacy, the daughters, mothers, wives, widows and sisters of the boys in gray and butternut, placed the monument in the Square to remember their loved ones. The purpose of the war as touted by the Confederate leaders would have had little meaning to these grieving widows, mothers and daughters of the soldiers who never returned or to the wives and daughters of invalid veterans on whom rested the burden of their care. To the families of those who returned, the monument was a token of thanksgiving. Even of the veterans, however, few survived the war unscathed in mind or body.
During the Civil War, all the members of my ancestral family who served were common soldiers in the Union Army. Because of this, I could look at “Chip” as symbolizing the Confederate soldier who killed my mother’s half brother near Petersburg, Va., or the soldier who wounded my father’s uncle at Hoover’s Gap, Tenn. This uncle died a few months later.
But this would not be right! I must not add a level of meaning to this statue that was not intended by those ladies who placed the monument on the Franklin Square. “Chip” represents the sons, brothers, and husbands who marched off to war — nothing more.
Sam C. Gant
Professor of History, emeritus,
Nashville State Community College