Battlefield Tours


In 2012, as part of its recognition of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, Inc., began sponsoring Civil War tours of the Nashville area, including the Battle of Nashville battlefield. BONPS has partnered with local historian Ross Massey, a co-founder of BONPS and recognized authority on the battle and the place it was fought (see more about Ross below), to make personal exploration of the battlefield available to the public.

A Quick Guide to Tour Information:

  • Available for tours of 2, 4 and 6 hours.
  • Cost: $100 for tours of 2 or 4 hours, $150 for 6 hours;
  • Customer provides vehicle, and Ross Massey rides and guides
  • Charge is per vehicle or group, not per person (fees above are applicable to car tours only; for larger groups such as motor coach tours, contact Ross Massey at the phone number and/or email address below)
  • Scope of tour is customized to desires of the touring party
  •  For questions or scheduling, call Ross Massey at (615) 352-6384 or email at

Special Note:  Ross also provides tours of other nearby Civil War battlefields, including Franklin, Murfreesboro and Spring Hill.  Contact him for prices on tours of each of these locations, especially in combination with his tours of the Battle of Nashville sites.


Bio of Ross Massey, Tour Guide:

Ross Massey is a Nashville native who began researching the Battle of Nashville at the time of the battle’s Centennial in 1964, and has been studying, researching and discovering facts about the battle and battlefield ever since. His research has led to the discovery of a number of key battlefield landmarks, such as Granbury’s Lunette and other important earthworks. In the early 90’s, he became one of the founders of The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. He recently published a new book entitled Nashville Battlefield Guide, containing detailed explanations of the battle and its battlefield.  Ross is known for his wealth of knowledge of the history of Nashville at the start of the Civil War, the history of its occupation by the Union army, and the climactic battle of Hood’s Tennessee campaign — the Battle of Nashville — which ended significant military operations in the western theatre.  He has spent his historical life identifying core battlefield sites, interpreting the battle and pursuing first person accounts of those who were eyewitnesses during the occupation and the battle, not only from the soldiers on both sides, but the civilians who lived during that period.  He has made appearances as part of the Civil War Journal on the History Channel.


The Need For Tours:  Why Nashville Matters

By Philip W. Duer,
President, BONPS

When our Board considered whether to explore sponsoring Battle of Nashville tours, the following questions had to be answered:

1.  Does Nashville matter?
2.  Are there significant sites to see in a sprawling urban environment?
3.  Is there public interest in Nashville as a Civil War historical tour destination?

The answer to these questions is “Yes” — Nashville matters.

Our website, since it was re-vamped in early 2011, has had tremendous activity.  For the period from July to December, 2011, there have been over 34,000 “hits.”  I, as well as other members of our Board, have tried to answer numerous questions from people all over the country inquiring as to their Civil War ancestors who were posted here, who died here, or who fought here.  Inquiries have ranged from California to Michigan, and from Ohio and Indiana to North Carolina, not to mention from the other Southern states.  We have had requests for our battlefield Driving Tour Map and Mark Zimmerman’s indispensable book Guide to Civil War Nashville, from as diverse places as Utah and the United Kingdom.  People visit Nashville, and they want to see the sites.

The Expansive Field of Battle. It is easy to imagine the confusion experienced by visitors to Nashville in trying to orient themselves to the maps and the battlefield.  Nashville was not like Franklin; it was not a compressed battlefield, and it did not happen in a few hours. Two armies faced each other for two weeks before the battle and in some of the worst weather up to that time. Nashville was one of the largest battlefields of the Civil War, characterized by  a two-day battle of maneuver.  One of the U.S. Army defensive belts protecting Nashville was some seven miles in length.  On the first day of the battle, the Confederate lines ran for several miles from Nolensville Pike all of the way over to Hillsboro Road, and for two and a half miles on the second day.  And these descriptions do not include the desperate duels of  Confederate artillery with Union ironclads and tinclads on the Cumberland River, nor the running fights of cavalry and infantry from the Belle Meade Mansion to what is now Green Hills.

Guide Is The Best Choice.  If you are in West Nashville, you are on the battlefield. Although subdivisions and office buildings cover most of the battlefield, there are still core battlefield sites preserved and available to visitors.  To make sense of the battle and to tie in the sites involved in each day’s  fight, a tour guide is the best possible choice to make.  We have videos and maps for sale, but you have to walk the battlefield to fully understand its scope.  Since one cannot walk it, the next best option is to drive it.  The tours that are offered are driving tours in which the guide  will be in your car discussing the Civil War history of Nashville and the battle; there will be no “dead time” nor “lost  time” as the information is provided from the time the tour starts until its conclusion, both in and out of the car.

With the driving tour augmented by written source material available from BONPS, you will leave Nashville with a clear understanding of Nashville’s strategic role as a base of transportation, communication, and supplies  for the U.S. Army as it moved deeper and deeper into the heartland of the Confederacy.  You will leave Nashville with a clear tactical understanding of why, where and how the battle was fought, the mistakes and  the successes.  You will leave Nashville with many heartfelt stories of the soldiers on both sides as they attempted to survive the winter elements and contemplate the battle that all knew was coming.

How The Tour Works.  Tours range from 2 hours, 4 hours, and 6 hours.  The charge of the guide is $ 100.00 for both the 2 and 4 hour tour and $ 150.00 for the 6 hour tour.  The charge is not per person, but per car or other vehicle.  In addition, custom tours at arranged prices are also available, as for example, if a tour is interested in specific areas where ancestors fought.  Tours can also be arranged for Civil War Nashville, not just the battle sites.  The best time for touring the battlefield is from late October (when the leaves have fallen off the trees) to early Spring, although tours will be available year round.

Neither BONPS nor the tour guide arranges the transportation; those taking the tour are responsible for providing their own transportation or renting a vehicle.  There may be some recommendations for a tour van rental company for the best possible price for large groups, but again, it is up to the touring people to arrange for the rental, not BONPS nor the tour guide.  This arrangement is what enables BONPS to charge such low prices for the tours due to the elimination of high automobile liability insurance premiums and chauffer requirements.

If this service is successful, BONPS intends to expand the tour guide services by increasing the number of knowledgeable guides as well as tours to other battlefields in the Middle Tennessee area.

The Unique Battlefield.  We cannot emphasize enough that Nashville is a unique battlefield; it was fought in the open fields, wooded hills and valleys.  It was a war of maneuver where contemporary accounts comment on panoramas of thousands of cavalry and tens of thousands of troops in long lines with battle flags flying and moving steadily toward the dug-in Army of Tennessee.  The battle  was fought on the water; in fact, two Union sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor during actions between Union ships and Confederate cavalry and artillery.  Nashville has the largest inland masonry star-pattern fort in North America –Fort Negley — which is open free to the public.  And, the Nashville battle was probably the largest battle in which significant numbers of African American troops actually fought, and fought heroically.  One Union officer, going over the battlefield after the battle at Peach Orchard hill, was recorded as saying, “Don’t tell me Negroes won’t fight, I know better.”  There are not many Civil War sites that African Americans can point to for evidence of their effort to win the war and help gain their freedom; Nashville has three such sites, including Fort Negley, the assault on Granbury’s lunette, and the charge at Peach Orchard Hill.

Yes, Nashville matters.

View of part of the Nashville battlefield as seen from Fort Negley [Click to enlarge