Introduction. This earthen fortification was one of five constructed by Hood’s forces after their arrival in the Nashville area. Only a small remnant was preserved, but has been recognized and protected by Calvary United Methodist Church which now owns the high ground where the redoubt was built. Redoubt 3 was one of a close cluster of three which commanded the 90 degree angle formed by the northern and western Confederate lines near the intersection of present day Woodmont Boulevard and Hillsboro Pike. All three redoubts and their heavily-outnumbered troops fell to Union attackers in the late afternoon of December 15, 1864. The author of this photo essay is John Allyn, a BONPS board member whose home is only a few hundred yards from Redoubts 2 and 3.
On the afternoon of December 15, 1864 the Union Army overran the five redoubts that formed the left flank of the Confederate line. Colonel Sylvester Hill, an Iowan commanding the Third Brigade, First Division, XVI Army Corps, was killed by a sharpshooter during the attack on Redoubt No. 3, which lay on a tall hill west of the Hillsboro Pike on the site of modern day Calvary United Methodist Church. The Redoubt contained three cannon and approximately 100 additional infantry supports. This contemporary artist’s rendering from Harper’s Weekly (above) depicts this incident. The view is to the south; the unlikely copse of trees in the background (most trees in the battlefield area were taken down for firewood, to make fortifications, or to clear fields of fire) stands about where the modern Krystal is located. Colonel Hill was the highest ranking Union officer killed in the battle.
Sylvester Hill was born in North Kingston, Rhode Island. He was trained as a cabinet maker and at age 20 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he worked in the furniture business. In 1849 he was swept up in the California Gold Rush and went west to seek his fortune. He was not successful, and returned to the east. He ended up in Muscatine, Iowa where he engaged in the lumber business.
In the summer of 1862 Hill helped raise the 35th Iowa Infantry Regiment. Being a prominent Republican, it was not surprising that he was appointed colonel of the regiment on September 18, 1862. For the first several months of its existence the regiment was on garrison duty in Illinois and Kentucky. In the spring of 1863 it joined the Army of the Tennessee besieging Vicksburg.
After the siege of Vicksburg, Colonel Hill assumed command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, XVI Corps, a position he would maintain for much of the remainder of the war. Hill was wounded in 1864 during Banks’ Red River campaign in Louisiana. He briefly returned to regimental command at the Battle of Tupelo in July, 1864. He returned to brigade command by the time of Price’s Missouri Raid in October, 1864.
Hill married Martha J. Dyer in 1843. Mrs. Hill was from Maine. The couple had eleven children, one of whom died in infancy. Two sons served in the Civil War. Edwin, the oldest, served in the 7th Iowa Infantry Regiment. He was captured at Belmont, Missouri in November, 1861 but was later exchanged and remained with the 7th (which fought in every Western battle from Belmont to the March to the Sea) until the end of the war. His second son, Fred, enlisted in his father’s regiment and was killed at the Battle of Yellow Bayou, Louisiana on May 18, 1864. Hill was posthumously given a brevet promotion to brigadier general for his service at Nashville. He is buried at Muscatine, Iowa.