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Lotz House sponsors blood drive on the site of 10,000 casualties


Donate blood on Nov. 30 at the Lotz House and receive a free tour of the museum, which features this famous Civil War painting.

On Nov. 30, 1864 blood ran in rivers over hundreds of acres of land just a couple blocks south of the center of Franklin. 
To honor the 10,000 American casualties of the Battle of Franklin who fought to ensure the freedom of generations to come and to help those waging their own battle for life, the American Red Cross is partnering with the Lotz House to host a blood drive on Saturday Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.—the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin.
There is an historic relationship between the Civil War and the American Red Cross. During the War Between the States, Clara Barton, the “Angel of the Battlefield” was a battlefield nurse and collected and distributed supplies to soldiers. 
In 1881, she founded the American Red Cross, a version of the International Red Cross, which was founded in 1863 in Switzerland.
“This is the most exciting project I have been involved in for all the right reasons,” said J.T. Thompson, executive director of the Lotz House museum.
Three of those reasons are—the Red Cross needs blood, it’s two days after Thanksgiving and the day after Black Friday so everyone “has feasted, shopped and now they are looking for something to do and it’s the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin,” Thompson said. 
“Everyday, hundreds of thousands of people go up and down Columbia Avenue. Most don’t know or don’t care what they are driving on. This is a chance to make it relevant. Give blood, see the blood on the walls and understand what happened here.”
Nov. 30 1864
It was like three days of 911 back to back in this small one-horse town, Thompson said.
Around 2 p.m. on Nov. 30, 1864 the first shots were fired at Winstead Hill, about two-miles south of the Lotz and Carter Homes. For a couple hours Johann Lotz watched the fields filled with smoke and blue and gray uniforms swarm closer to his home. 
Realizing they were no longer safe in their clapboard home, Lotz, his wife Margaretha and their four children – 14-year old Amelia, nine-year old Paul, six-year old Matilda and two-year old Augustus – left. They darted between Union soldiers who had taken over both the Carter House and the Lotz farm earlier in the day, going a total of 110 steps to join the Carter family and their slaves, who were hunkered down in the back room of the basement. Soon the roar of cannons, the blasts of rifles the screams of the wounded and dying was deafening; the smell of smoke, sweat, blood and death nauseating.
“They couldn’t even hear their own screams,” Thompson said.
After 19-hours sheltered in the basement, the family emerged to carnage. Johann said, “the dead were standing like scarecrows” in his front yard and according to Thompson, the family “couldn’t return to their house without stepping on a dead American.” 
It took the German immigrant three-years, from 1855-1858, to build his home. He did it without slave labor and used it as a model to establish a lucrative and extensive carpentry/woodworking business throughout Middle Tennessee.
The damage his home incurred on Nov. 30 would take him four years to repair. Some of the damage, like the blood stains on the walls and floors, would never be fixed.
Thompson speculated the affect of being eye witnesses to history had on the children – especially young Tillie (Matilda) who turned six on Nov. 29 and the next day watched Union soldiers shoot and eat her pet calf, slaughter the remaining stock and level all the trees and out buildings to reinforce the breastworks.
Tillie used to spend hours sketching those farm animals in the dirt with a stick.  
After their 19-hour ordeal, the family returned to find their home standing – but not whole. Signs of the battle were in every room – holes in walls where cannon canisters and musket balls plowed through, the southside of the house was virtually gone, the staircase had fallen in and part of the roof was gone. 
A root cellar became the family’s new home until Lotz could complete repairs.
With the Southern economy devastated. Lotz began making musical instruments – primarily guitars and banjos – so his family could survive. In 1869 he completed his grandest grand piano, which would become another instrument of dramatic change in his life. 
To commemorate the end of the war, he carved an American eagle with outstretched wings on the top of the piano. On one side of the eagle he carved the Stars and Stripes; on the other the St. Andrew’s Cross known as the Confederate Battle flag with the eagle’s talons clutching it.
Members of the newly formed “social” club in Pulaski, Tenn. called the Klu Klux Klan arrived at the Lotz’s house to check out the carving. They were outraged. To them, the carving demonstrated disrespect to the Battle flag. When Johann got word they planned to tar and feather him, he packed his family in a covered wagon and headed west stopping 2,300 miles later in San Jose, Calif. where he and later his children prospered.
Little Tillie took drawing lessons from Phoebe Hurst and eventually became recognized as one of California’s premier female pioneer artists. In her late teens she he studied in Paris. In her twenties she traveled through Europe and sailed down the Nile River to spend 10 years in Egypt. She painted portraits for the wealthy and farm animals for herself.
It was the strength she realized on Nov. 30, 1864 that “empowered and emboldened her, made her fearless,” said Thompson. “After what she experienced, her attitude was, ‘what can you do to me that hasn’t already been done?”
With this blood drive, “I am hoping to draw awareness to what happened here 149 years ago,” Thompson said. “I hope to make this an annual event to help the Red Cross and to help people appreciate what happened here.”
Each person who gives blood and helps reach the goal of 30-pints will receive a free tour of the Lotz House.
Contact Carole Robinson at

Deborah Warnick, Director of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, for the Williamson County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Stacey Watson, of Franklin’s Charge, attend kick-off festivities held earlier this fall in Chattanooga for the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864 will be held next year. Commemorative events for the 149th anniversary begin throughout the city later this month. SUBMITTED

Posted on: 11/24/2013


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