My Hundred Pound Reminder of Hell on Earth.
A Scuttlefish Feature.
by Chris Dixon
100 Pounds of Cast Iron, Black Powder and Grisly Death. My 100-Pound Parrott Shell from the Battle of Morris Island. Summer, 1863. Photo: Chris Dixon
The chances are that my Parrott shell was fired sometime between July and August of 1863. Tipping the scales at just under a hundred pounds, this hollowed-out, bullet-shaped slug of cast iron was slowly and carefully hefted into the barrel of a 12,000 pound cannon by Yankee troops. When an order was given, a string was pulled, igniting a firing charge. The shell was then blasted towards Confederate troops at better than 700 miles per hour bearing its own hefty explosive charge of carbon, sulfur and potassium nitrate – a mixture better known as black powder. It was probably hurled at a low-angled trajectory from a Yankee ironclad ship or from the northern end of Folly Beach, then aptly called Coffin Island. Or perhaps it took flight from the southern end of adjacent Morris Island, a thin trip of white sand beach and pungent salt marsh just south of Charleston Harbor that also happens to be one of my favorite places on earth.
The Lonely Lighthouse of Morris Island. Once it Was Fronted by Buildings and Dunes. Photo: Chris Dixon
The likely target of my shell, and thousands of other Yankee projectiles was Battery Wagner, a seemingly primitive but incredibly stout Confederate fort situated about two-thirds the way up the four-mile-long Morris Island. I say primitive, because in terms of what most would consider a classic fort of thick brick walls and massive firepower like nearby Sumter or Georgia’s Pulaski, Wagner’s main protection – a thick layer of sand and springy palmetto tree logs – seemed crude. Yet it was also ingenious. Even 485-pound Yankee cannonballs, beach-ball-sized agents of doom capable reducing any brick wall to powder, were simply swallowed by Wagner’s sand or bounced off the splintering palmetto. Under bombardment, Wagner’s underground walls shook mightily, and sand flew everywhere, but Confederate troops in the fort hunkered down and survived.
Battery Wagner. 1863. Image, Library of Congress
Fort Sumter, under Union Command, on the eve of the Civil War. The first shots of the Civil War took place here, on April 12, 1861, as Confederate batteries opened fire, bombarding it for 34 straight hours. On April 13, Union forces surrendered and evacuated the fort. Later attacks would nearly reduce it to rubble. Image: United States National Archives.
Morris Island – Battle Lines Drawn. Click to Enlarge. Image Source: Library of Congress.
Battery Wagner was a source of frustration to Yankee commanders hellbent on teaching the cradle of secession a violent lesson. If Yankee Major General Quincy Adams Gillmore could conquer Morris Island, the remainder of Charleston’s other outer defenses – and the city itself – would be far easier to reach by artillery shells just like mine.
Morris Island, Unidentified Camp. Image Source: Library of Congress.
How I came to own a Parrott shell is a tale of fascination and persistence. I’m lucky to share an office at a shrimp boat dock near Folly Beach, South Carolina. One day a few years ago, my then six-year-old daughter and I paddled over to Long Island, a beautiful and uninhabited marsh island near my house and even nearer to my office. The high ground at Long Island’s southern end was once part of a Yankee battery that regularly exchanged cannon fire with Rebel troops who were stationed in a farming and fishing community across the marsh aptly called “Secessionville” (though it’s actually been called that since long before the Civil War). Hiking out of Long Island’s maritime forest and back down to the tiny beach, my daughter noticed a rusty stain in the white sand. I reckoned the two-pound shard of strangely twisted iron we discovered might be part of an old artillery shell, and mentioned finding what Lucy called “my piece of a cannonball,” to the shrimp fisherman whose family owns the dock. “You wanna see a cannonball?” he asked. “You gotta meet a friend of mine.”
The Big Iron Man and His Collection. Photos by Ben Gately Williams/Garden & Gun.
A few months later, after plenty of pestering, the shrimper led me down a moss-hung Carolina back road where I shook hands with a guy those in the know referred to as “The Big Iron Man” and his lovely wife. “Big Iron” was a handsome and garrulous southern gentleman who possessed an astonishing collection of Civil War artillery. He was not only an oracle on the different shells fired by both sides during the Civil War, but a skilled metallurgist who apprenticed under one of the best metal restoration experts in the world.
Cut Into Cross Section, a Confederate Case Shot Cannonball Reveals its Murderous Shrapnel – Bullets and Iron Balls. Photo: Chris Dixon
The Big Iron Man showed a jaw-dropping cross section of frightful weapons. A grape shot canister was a cylindrical projectile filled with billiard-sized balls of pure iron. “It’s a giant shotgun shell,” he told me. “Johnny Reb would use this when the Yankee troops were assaulting by boat. They’d say, ‘don’t put a round ball in the cannon, just hit ‘em with grape.’ They talked about it at Secessionville. The Yankees were marching in, and when they fired grape, a row of thirty people would just disappear. It was just terrible.”
Among his most prized possessions was a pyramid of 485 pound, 19-inch cannonballs from Morris Island. “Can you imagine the energy it took to fire one of these?” he asked. “These would badly damage a modern warship today.”
Photos from younger days showed the Big Iron Man and a tight circle of friends hoisting these hulking chunks of iron from deep Carolina marsh mud and sandy seafloor after discovering them with powerful metal detectors. Lifting such heavy objects was damned difficult and treacherous. If a shell slipped during hoisting and trapped a diving shell hunter in deep mud, or overturned his boat, drowning or hypothermia were very real possibilities. Most of the prize artillery pieces were discovered by Big Iron and his compatriots years ago, but considering that the Yankees pumped tens of thousands of rounds into downtown Charleston and Morris Island, plenty are still buried. Some buildings, like the back of the University of South Carolina store in downtown Charleston, still bear their scars.
The Ceiling at the Back of Charleston’s Carolina On King Store. You Can See the Angle the Shell Took as it Flew From Somewhere Near Charleston Harbor, Entered the Building and Cleaved a Thick Crossbeam in Two. Photo: Chris Dixon
In the years after the Civil War, unexploded shells like mine – either fired by Yankees into town, or simply never used by Confederate artillery units, were literally scattered all over Charleston. They lined sidewalks and served as doorstops or markers for historic monuments. Over the years though, they were melted down as scrap, stolen or simply disappeared into people’s homes. As they became more scarce, their value grew, and by the 1960’s, folks like the Big Iron Kid had actively begun looking for them. With the advent of increasingly powerful metal detectors through the 70’s and 80’s, it became possible to find them deeper and deeper in the sand and mud. Today, a well-preserved and restored shell can fetch thousands of dollars.
A Disarmed Big Iron Man Shell Undergoing Electrolysis to Remove Salts and Rust. Photo: Chris Dixon
The Big Iron Man became skilled not only at finding shells, he also mastered the alchemy required to chemically and electrically leach the rust-inducing salts from the skin of iron that had been immersed in seawater for 150 years. If these salts are not removed and neutralized, they dry, expand and render a seemingly perfect recovered shell into a pile of rusty dust in mere days. But even more importantly, he also came to be one of a very few schooled in the even more arcane and dangerous art of shell disarmament. This is a particularly important skill among relic hunters, because if an old shell is discovered today and falls into official hands, it’s almost always destroyed by a military EOD unit.
I was left so amazed by all this, that I managed to convince The Big Iron Man to entrust me with a story on him for Garden & Gun magazine, provided he remain anonymous.
In the story, I described The Big Iron Man’s disarming process thusly:
He bolts the shell to a stand and lowers it into a deep, water-filled pit dug into the earth beneath a fixed, vertical drill. Connecting the stand to the man are a pair of long, spindly steel arms—one controls a water jet, the other the drill press. The arms snake over the backup blast shield, a hulking, tail-finned automotive relic of the 1950s.
The fat drill bit spins very slowly, biting tiny shards from the shell. Even if relic shells usually aren’t hazardous to handle, heat and possible sparks from drilling can change the equation. Pure black powder ignites at around 572 degrees Fahrenheit, and after so many years, the stuff in this shell might have undergone any number of chemical changes, seeping into fissures and creating explosive pressurized gases. “If I have to disarm something,” he says, “I’m going to do it slowly and underwater.”
The deeper the bit spins, the heavier the sweat on the Big Iron Man’s brow. He’s maintained a light but firm pressure for fifteen minutes when, suddenly, his right arm relaxes and he breathes deeply. He’s broken through. The jet of water neutralizes the powder, but the stuff can be sticky, and when it dries, it’s still dangerous. So he’ll flush out the shell for a couple of hours.
This is why, if you look closely at the picture of my own shell, you can see a tiny hole in it. If it didn’t have that hole, the damn thing could still blow up my house. This sort of thing has happened. In 1947, four boys were working on a drilled-out shell in a shed at Fort Johnson, a former Confederate fort a few miles from Secessionville. They wanted to remove the gunpowder to use in a toy cannon. Instead, when fifteen-year-old William Nungezer took a hammer to the shell, he and his ten-year-old buddy William Beasley were blown up. Nungezer died while Beasley was grievously wounded. In 2006 and 2008, a pair of experienced shell restorers – colleagues of The Big Iron Man – were working on shells outside of water and they exploded. One man lost an eye. One man died. This seems to make him the last known casualty of the Civil War.
A Story From the Charleston Evening Post, 1948. Image: The Post and Courier.
Still, despite these horrors, accidents like this are very rare, and there’s long been a thriving trade in these shells – provided they’re disarmed.
A few months back, I visited The Big Iron Man. We talked story for awhile and then wandered outside where he pointed to a big, rusty piece of artillery laying in his yard. It was a hundred pound Parrott shell. The restoration process hadn’t gone as well on this one. Too much of the original metal had sloughed off, leaving its surface rough and pitted, so he didn’t have much use for it. “You want it?” he asked.
Hell yes, I did.
Sweet Jesus, was that thing heavy. Hefting it into my van, I imagined a regiment of miserable soldiers being forced to manhandle hundreds of these shells and the huge cannons that fired them through shoe-sucking mud, soft sand and clouds of mosquitoes and horseflies during a Charleston steam bath summer.
Morris Island, South Carolina. Battery Hays. One 8-inch Parrot Rifle dismounted. Image Source: Library of Congress.
I asked Big Iron the likely origins of this particular shell. He couldn’t be entirely sure because the guy who brought it to him was quite secretive about his hunting spots – as these guys generally are. Both Confederate and Union Parrott shells, he said, have a common lineage in the form of U.S. Army artilleryman Robert Parker Parrott (1804-1877) who eventually became superintendent of New York’s West Point Foundry.
Robert Parker Parrott. Image: Civilwar.org
Parrott had experimented with all manner of artillery through the first half of the 1800’s and in 1861, was granted a patent for a gun that reliably fired a bullet-shaped ‘Parrott shell’ through a barrel that was rifled, or wound internally with threads almost like a screw. When fired, the rifling would spiral a shell like a well-thrown football, allowing it to be precisely aimed for maximum havoc. But Parrott’s guns had a major flaw. Their barrels were notorious for fissuring and blowing up – and taking troops with them. “Nitrogen would build up in the cast iron and that gas would weaken the gun,” said The Big Iron Man. “They’d turn ‘em loose on a gunboat and the exploding gun would kill ten crewmen. But they could fire a long way. That shell of yours could fly five miles, no problem.”
Morris Island, South Carolina. 300-pounder Parrot Rifle after bursting of muzzle. Image Source: Library of Congress.
The shells were equipped with fuses that were either set to burn down at a predetermined rate and blow up the shell in the air, raining down supersonic burning shrapnel or unleashing a hellish mix of turpentine and tar called “Greek Fire.” Percussion fuses were supposed to make a shell explode on impact. But both types often failed, especially on impacting soft Carolina sand. That’s why there are still so many here.
My shell had a decayed zinc fuse in its nose. The Confederates tended to rely on hardy brass fuses that even today, can look brand new. “A zinc fuse means the shell was probably cast in (West Point) New York,” Big Iron said. They just cranked them out. You see pictures of Morris Island back then, they had thousands of these stacked up.”
A Pile of Morris Island Ordnance. Photo: Chris Dixon
On July 10, 1863, Union troops attacked Morris Island, gaining a southern foothold on the beach. A day later, they attempted to capture Battery Wagner and nearby Battery Gregg. The failed attack cost the Union 330 men, while Confederates only lost twelve. Upwards of 11,000 Union troops were soon sweating and stinking on this tiny island in the dead heat of summer awaiting orders for another attack.
Morris Island, South Carolina. Unidentified Artillery Unit. Image Source: Library of Congress.
Early on July 18, Union General George C. Strong rode up to the assembled soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts, the first all-black regiment in U.S. history. He asked, “Is there a man here who thinks himself unable to sleep in that fort tonight?”
“NO!” Came the loud reply.
Union batteries opened up on Wagner and Gregg with one of the greatest fusillades the world had ever seen – shells from four land batteries and an armada of at least eleven ships. Over 1000 Confederate troops buried their own cannons and hunkered down beneath the sand. Peering out of Wagner, Confederate General William Taliaferro said the ironclad ships looked “like huge water dogs, their black sides glistening in the sun.”
Morris Island, South Carolina. U.S. Gunboat Commodore McDonough. Image Source: Library of Congress.
The Big Iron Man said that if my shell was fired at low angle from a Yankee ironclad, or the south end of Morris Island, it would have come screaming in towards Battery Wagner, and then bounced, skipped and tumbled across ocean and sand like an onside football kick from hell. A human or horse standing in its way would have been pulverized. Indeed, there are reports of the cannon-and grape-blasted heads of troops in the Morris battle vanishing in a cloud of blood.
Smoke Rises as the Union Ship New Ironsides Fires on Morris Island. Image Source: Library of Congress.
The outside of Wagner was pounded into a lumpy mound of quartz dust. “Words cannot depict the thunder, the smoke, the lifted sand and the general havoc,” said Taliaferro. “The whole island smoked like a furnace and trembled as from an earthquake.”
Still, the Rebels remained defiant. They knew that the backside of Wagner was impenetrable bog and marsh, so the only attack could come from the beachfront, which had been fortified with a water-filled trench, landmines, and sharpened palmetto stakes. A line of cannons including a massive Columbiad that fired a 128-pound ball awaited, while inside Wagner, scores of troops stood ready with musket, ball and powder. Struggling up the wall of soft sand, Union troops would slip and slide as if on the walls of a doodlebug trap, all the while fully exposed to Confederate guns. It would be the nineteenth century’s answer to the Normandy Invasion.
Union Col. Robert Shaw and Confederate General William B. Taliaferro. Images: The Civil War Trust
That night, Colonel Robert Shaw, the white, 25-year-old son of an ardent Boston abolitionist led over 600 members of the 54th towards the gates of hell. At 150 yards distance, illuminated by exploding shells, Taliaferro ordered his troops to open up and a literal river of fire flowed out into the advancing 54th.
“They were hit by grape and canister…from hand grenades and from almost every other murderous implement of modern warfare,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.
Image Source: Library of Congress.
When Shaw’s flag bearer was hit on his way up the hill, Shaw grabbed it himself. “Forward fifty fourth!” were the last words he spoke before a lead ball tore through his chest.
Rather than retreating in the wake of Shaw’s death, the 54th fought even harder. It’s impossible to conceive the emotions on both sides. Here was a battalion of black men given the chance at retaliation for 400 years of subjugation and fight for the freedom of untold others. Confederate troops could imagine no greater affront than an attack by the formerly enslaved. They were, in the words of one soldier, “maddened and infuriated at the sight of Negro troops.”
Many of Shaw’s men reached Wagner’s summit, where savage, confusing hand-to-hand combat ensued. Illuminated only by gunpowder, the 54th was even hammered by artillery from big Union guns that had not yet ceased their own fire.
The 54th Massachusetts regiment, under the leadership of Colonel Shaw in the attack on Fort Wagner, Morris Island, South Carolina, in 1863,” mural at the Recorder of Deeds building, built in 1943. 515 D St., NW, Washington, D.C. Image Source: Library of Congress.
The 54th’s Sergeant William Carney, a man born a Virginia slave, stormed the hill alongside abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s son Lewis – whose sword was ripped from his side by an artillery shot. After Shaw’s death, the 23-year-old Carney found himself bearing the American flag. “All around me were the dead and the wounded, lying one on top of the other,” he would later say.
Sgt. William Carney and Sgt. Major Lewis Douglass with his Wife Amelia. Images: Library of Congress.
The fire “swept us down like chaff,” recalled Douglass. “Still our men went on and on.”
Carney was eventually forced to turn back down the hill in hopes of charging back up with reinforcements. He was pelted with lead. “The bullet I now carry in my body came whizzing like a mosquito,” he said. “Not being prostrated by the shot, I continued my course, yet had not gone far before I was struck by a second shot.”
Miraculously, Carney survived. He went on to become the first black soldier to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor. “Boys, I only did my duty,” he later said. “The old flag never touched the ground.”
Yet every commanding officer of the 54th was cut down. The unit suffered 45 percent casualties.
Thousands of other Union troops from nine other brigades marched in and plenty were also mowed down from above. In the chaos and confusion, the New York 100th mistakenly unloaded their own weapons into their own fellow troops.
The hellish scene was recreated for the Academy Award Winning Film Glory:
The following morning, Confederate Lieutenant E.K. Bryan wrote of the horrors daylight revealed.
Blood, mud, water, brains and human hair matted together; men lying in every possible attitude, with every conceivable expression on their countenances; their limbs bent into unnatural shapes by the fall of twenty or more feet, the fingers rigid and outstretched as if they had clutched the earth to save themselves; pale, beseeching faces, looking out from among the ghastly corpses, with moans and cries for help and water and dying gasps and death struggles. In the salient and on the ramparts they lay heaped and pent up, in some places three deep.
Federal casualties numbered 1515. The Confederates lost 174.
Even after the battle, Morris Island’s horrors continued unabated. Bodies, including Shaw’s were stripped of useful items and buried in mass graves. The infuriated Yankees then laid relentless artillery siege from land and sea. Exploding shells disinterred Union bodies, leaving them to rot in the broiling sun. These putrefying human beings then poisoned Battery Wagner’s freshwater wells.
In August, Union General Gilmore deployed The Swamp Angel, a 16,800 pound Parrott Rifle on the backside of Morris Island. This was, at its time, the farthest reaching gun ever built, and the first gun capable of hurling a massive, 200-pound shell directly into downtown Charleston. The first of the Swamp Angel’s salvos caused panic and fire in the unsuspecting city, yet the gun’s barrel only lasted for 36 blasts before it blew itself up.
The Swamp Angel Self Destructs. But Not Before Terrifying the Residents of Charleston. Image Source: Library of Congress.
The Swamp Angel’s Bombardment of Charleston. Illustrated by Harper’s Weekly, January 9, 1864.
As the Union continued its siege on Morris, sickness and privation grew so severe among the sweltering Confederates that General P.T. Beauregard ordered his men to sneak out of batteries Wagner and Gregg in the dead of night. On September 7, Gilmore’s men were astonished to find the forts completely empty. The siege of Charleston – a terrifying, nearly two-year-long bombardment that would ruin great swaths of one of the most beautiful cities on earth – could now begin in earnest.
Fort Sumter and Downtown Charleston Would be, Reduced to Rubble. Images: Library of Congress.
Today, Morris Island is entirely protected thanks to the tireless efforts of conservation-minded Charlestonians, though thanks to sea level rise and a massive set of littoral sand-robbing jetties built to protect the Charleston Harbor, there’s far less of Morris than there was in 1863. The lighthouse that once rose above a vast dune system is now completely surrounded by ocean.
Still, despite the fact that human bones are still occasionally revealed by the tides, Morris remains one of my favorite places. It’s a stark, beautiful graveyard of salt marsh and swaying sea oats, where waves scour white sand to reveal beautiful seashells, sharks teeth and countless tiny pebbles of coal-black lead shot. The ever-shifting sandbars outside the channel separating Morris from Folly Island can create perfect surf if one knows the optimal combination of tide, wind and swell. The fishing for flounder, redfish and trout is tremendous and the murky waters teem with Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and all manner of shark. On summer weekends, Morris is a popular place for locals to drink and party, but outside of the occasional fire ring, it’s rare that much evidence of human disturbance is ever left behind. Even if they don’t know the whole story, most locals know this to be hallowed ground: a natural, national monument.
Photo: Chris Dixon
A few weekends back, a couple of friends and I boated out to Morris for what’s now become a bi-annual father-son camp-out with our kindergarten-aged boys. By sunset, we were the only people on the whole island.
Photo: Chris Dixon
Photos: Brad Wilson
That night, my buddy Tim and I cast baited lines into the water while the boys ran far up the pitch-black shoreline bearing flashlights, glow in the dark tomahawks and toy guns. To them, Morris represents pretend pirate battles, real live sharks, sand castles and unfettered adventure. I pondered how inconceivable it is today that these peaceful sands were once drenched in so much blood. Sitting around the campfire later, I told the wide-eyed, marshmallow-chomping youngsters that once long ago, huge cannons boomed from massive ships anchored just offshore. I’m not sure if they believed me. In time though, they’ll understand.
Photos: Chris Dixon
Back home the next day, I was silently greeted on the front stoop by my Parrott shell. I typically pass the iron sentinel without much thought, but today, I wondered if it was right to keep it. It didn’t take long to convince myself that it’s staying put. That awful projectile is a daily reminder to appreciate every living moment. It stands in mute testament to the horror that humans – even fellow Americans – would willingly inflict on one another.
The shell is also, to me, a reminder of the still unresolved legacies of slavery – and the south. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to the opinion that slavery literally unhinged my southern forebears. The longer the South’s ‘Peculiar Institution’ continued, the more it created an irreconcilable economic and moral quandary for a people who considered themselves civilized, decent and pious. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not only faulting my south. In England, right up to the Civil War, you could literally buy ‘stock’ in a slave. In the north, banks underwrote mortgages secured with slave collateral, slave ships sailed out of Boston clear to the start of the Civil War, and it was slave-grown cotton – by far America’s most important agricultural product – that fed Yankee and European mills. Hell, long after the war began, there was still a thriving illicit trade in cotton between the North and the South.
But in the south, especially, I believe that the ongoing denial of the slavery’s evil and brutality, and the fear of what would happen were the slaves to be freed (or if they violently decided to free themselves) led to a sort of mass psychosis. Because we were already somewhat unhinged, it was easy for southern leaders (most of whom were members of the aristocracy and thus had the most money and slaves to lose) to convince millions of fellow southerners that leaving the United States was a ‘glorious cause,’ and that a mighty, slave-built agricultural empire could somehow defeat a mightier empire of iron and industry.
“When South Carolina seceded, they were dancing in the streets,” The Big Iron Man had said to me months earlier. “But really, it was like in Gone With the Wind where Rhett Butler says, ‘Where’s our Navy? Where’s our industry?’ I know somebody in Charleston probably sat back and went, ‘I’ve been up north and I’ve seen their industry and gunpowder making capabilities. You done made them boys up there mad.”
Perhaps Rhett Butler said it best in his famous confrontation with Charles Hamilton from Gone With the Wind. “All we’ve got is cotton, slaves and arrogance.”
And there’s something else that as a southerner and a parent, I literally ponder every day. I can scarcely comprehend the heartbreak inflicted upon God knows how many parents and children who were forever separated during slavery transactions. Nor can I comprehend willingly watching my own son march off to a killing field like Morris Island.
I Prefer this Present to the Recent Past. Photo: Chris Dixon
Even 150 years on, the south of my ancestors is just so damned hard to get my head around. Southerners continue to obsess over these issues because so many of the issues slavery left us with are still playing out. Some of us (myself included) still have living grandparents who knew both slaves and Civil War veterans. Like a Parrott shell raised from the muck of Morris Island, our explosive past is still very much alive. To me, the Big Iron Man’s gift represents my beloved south’s mad and willful march into hell – the voluntary destruction of an entire civilization. It’s a hundred pounds of history and horror, forged into a single object with a singular purpose. I’m equally fascinated and repulsed by it.
It’s a point echoed by The Big Iron Lady when I first asked what motivated her husband and her into their obsession with these ancient weapons. “If you don’t understand history, how can you understand human beings?” she asked me while pointing to a 400-pounder that her husband had his feet propped up on. “This isn’t just iron. It’s engineering and technology. It’s the bravery of the soldiers. It’s the sheer foolishness of it all.”
I’d have to agree.
To see the implements and artifacts of the Civil War up close, visit a Mike Kent Civil War Memorabilia Show.. There’s one in Charleston this weekend.
Lowcountry Civil War Show Charleston, SC January 3 & 4, 2015
Chickamauga Civil War Show Dalton, GA February 7 & 8, 2015
Capital of the Confederacy Civil War Show Richmond, VA November 14 & 15, 2015
Middle Tennessee Civil War Show Franklin, TN December 5 & 6, 2015