Negley Gains National Attention
PETITION FILED TO PROTECT FT. NEGLEY PARK
On Monday, October 9, 2017, The Friends of Fort Negley filed a petition with the Tennessee Historical Commission, pursuant to a state historical preservation statute, to prevent commercial development of Fort Negley Park.
The filing gained attention in both local and national media, including U.S. News & World Report (see below).
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society is one of many historical preservation groups supporting the parkland preservation and opposing the development of a part of the original park currently occupied by the defunct Greer Stadium baseball field. BONPS and other citizen and historical groups are pushing Metro Nashville to preserve the area as parkland green space.
Above, Ft. Negley Park: aerial view in 1940s, before construction of Greer Stadium (click to enlarge)
BONPS SUPPORTS PRESERVATION OF FORT NEGLEY PARK
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society supports the effort to preserve the vacant Greer Stadium and surrounding parking lots as green park land and recommends the resource and action website set up by Friends of Fort Negley: https://savenashvilleparks.org/ .
The effort to preserve the parkland surrounding Ft. Negley has now gained the support of The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the nation’s battlegrounds. CWT’s president, O. James Lighthizer, has written a letter to Mayor Barry expressing the Trust’s reasons for supporting green space over development. Here is the full text of his letter.
Nashville architect Ben Page has completed an artist’s rendering of Ft. Negley Park as it would appear if preserved as green space parkland. The photos below show a comparison of the 21 acres in question, first as green space, then as a developed track in keeping with the Cloud Hill Group proposal.
When the Nashville Sounds baseball operation vacated Greer Stadium for its new location, speculation began as to the future of the 21 acre area that once included the stadium and paved areas surrounding it, all of which is adjacent to historic Fort Negley.
On May 26, 2017, Metro completed a closed-door proceeding in which it reviewed the proposed plans submitted by five for-profit developers, and the final result was the selection of Nashville commercial developer The Matthews Company and its development team for the project, Cloud Hill Partnership. The proposal includes preserving only 8 acres in some form of open space, with the remaining 13 acres built out to include approximately 300 units of affordable, workforce and market-rate housing, a “neighborhood-scale” market, retail area with restaurants and shops, and a music and arts center.
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society joins the large contingent of citizens, preservationists, historians and historical associations, neighborhood associations, archeologists, and many others who advocate for the preservation of this land as green park space. For more information about the issues and proposals involved, please visit https://savenashvilleparks.org/, organized and created by The Friends Of Fort Negley as a resource for Nashvillians to understand why the City needs to avoid the loss of more priceless historical ground, and how to support the push for preservation.
New for 2017
HANDS-FREE GPS-GUIDED AUDIO TOUR OF NASHVILLE BATTLEFIELD NOW AVAILABLE AS A SMARTPHONE APP
A new GPS-guided smartphone driving tour app is now available to allow users to find — and hear information about — all 50 Battle of Nashville historical markers.
The “Battle of Nashville Driving Tour,” created by Tour Buddy, can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, or iTunes, for a cost of $9.99. It is designed for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and requires iOS 9.0 or later.
The self-guided tour is organized into 3 tours that you can take at the user’s own pace, including:
1. Full tour of all 50 stops
2. Northern tour, featuring downtown locations and Union fortresses, including Ft. Negley
3. Southern tour, featuring homes, forts, battlefields, and more.
The Battle of Nashville app also features information on local cemeteries, Federal and Army of Tennessee officers and famous people. The app is rich in content including interviews with Nashville leading historians.
The developers stress that users should not operate their smartphones or similar devices while driving, but the app is designed to avoid that problem: After download, users can press the “Allow” button, which then enables GPS to locate markers while driving and as the car approaches a marker, the App then triggers the audible content for that marker.
It can also be used manually without GPS to hear the information for each location. Complete user instructions are included in the App and can be accessed after downloading.
BATTLE MONUMENT GETS BADLY-NEEDED REHAB
As of May 31, 2017, the Tennessee Historical Commission has completed its program to repair and refurbish the amphitheater and the grounds surrounding the Battle of Nashville Monument located on Granny White Pike.
The site was part of the Noel Farm on the first day of the battle and was positioned on the front line of fighting on December 15, 1864, when Union forces from Nashville attacked the Confederate left flank that day, The grounds also feature a “witness tree” which was present on the first day of the battle.
The Monument had been showing the wear of the years following its dedication at this site in 1999. It was originally located off Franklin Road near I-440, but was heavily damaged by a tornado in 1974 and moved to this location to make it more accessible to visitors. According to news reports, the THC funded this much-needed rehabilitation project that was performed by The Tradesmen Group and facilitated by Tennessee Historic Sites Program Director Dan Brown.
In addition to replacing the missing letters in the metal signage on the rock wall along Granny White Pike, the work also included repairing other damaged metal, concrete blocks, and other areas around the monument, and the entire site was pressure washed.
For more information about the Battle of Nashville Monument, including the witness tree, please visit the BONPS Monument page.
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, in its mission to protect portions of the historic battlefield sites, is grateful to the Tennessee Historical Commission for this important rehabilitation of the monument and the grounds which stand where the first day of the battle of Nashville was fought. For visitors, the Monument park is located on Granny White Pike between I-440 and Woodmont Blvd. in South Nashville.
April 1, 2017
VOLUNTEERS ATTACK, CONQUER HONEYSUCKLE ON PARK DAY 2017
A huge volume of bush Honeysuckle and other invasive foliage and debris was cleared from Shy’s Hill and Redoubt No. 1 on April 1, which was “Park Day 2017,” the annual national Spring cleaning day for Civil War sites sponsored by the Civil War Trust.
The event was the latest in a long line of Park Days in which The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society has participated annually with the help of volunteers.
April Fool’s Day was no joke to the volunteers who wielded chain saws, loppers and muscle power to shape up the Battle of Nashville properties. At Redoubt No. 1, where honeysuckle has continued its relentless attack on the open ground of the fort, BONPS board members Parke Brown (with his son Blades, 9) and Philip Duer led the way with chain saws and stump-killers to reclaim the open ground back to the property line.
Here’s an example of their work, showing the debris pile in its early stages.
The Parke Company was set to chip the mound of honeysuckle and stacked tree limbs that had encroached on the redoubt.
Volunteers included Jim Sobery, a representative of The Tennessee Land Trust, along with his friend Oliver McIntyre, and Taylor Agan, a song-writer and entertainer who has a close connection with Redoubt No. 1 because his great-great-great-great grandfather, a Union officer, was wounded in the attack on the fort.
For more on his ancestor, see the Descendants page on this website for Capt. Jonathan Joseph Rapp of Company C, Liberty Guards, 49th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry.
At Shy’s Hill, BONPS board members Jim Kay and Sidney McAlister took the morning shift, followed by member and friend Dr. Clay Bailey III, head of the History Department at Montgomery Bell Academy, who showed up in the MBA bus with seven sophomores, including William Stewart, Cooper Maddox, Jackson Link, Luke Bernatavitz, William Bradford, Danny Lee, and Sam Funk.
They cleared many piles of pre-cut honeysuckle from the heights of Shy’s Hill and deposited them on the roadside for chipping later by The Parke Company. The experience was also a teaching event for the students, with Dr. Bailey quizzing and teaching them during the day about various aspects of history associated with the Civil War. The MBA students earned community service points as part of their experience.
The BONPS Board and its members are extremely appreciative of the time and effort expended by these volunteers, whose commitment to history helps make the preservation of these battlefield sites possible.
March 9, 2017
REPAIR OF MINNESOTA MONUMENT COMPLETED
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, with a significant assist by The Parke Company, has completed repair of the Minnesota Monument, located on the lower terrace of Shy’s Hill. The granite structure had been damaged in late 2016.
The Monument was placed on the hillside by the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, in association with BONPS, in November, 2014, as part of the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Nashville. It stands in honor of the 97 Minnesota troops who died in the charge up Shy’s Hill on December 16, 1864.
Re-working of the base and re-setting of the granite monument was accomplished by Parke Brown of the BONPS Board and The Parke Company, Nashville’s elite multi-service landscaping firm. Please visit The Parke Company website for more information on the wide array of excellent services they provide.
For this project, numerous Parke personal, specialized tools and one of the company’s cranes were used in conjunction with their many years of expertise in the care and maintenance of Nashville’s residential and historic landscapes.
January 19, 2017
Haslam Declares Robert E. Lee Day In Tennessee
Below is a copy of the 2017 Proclamation by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam declaring, in keeping with state law, that January 19, 2017, is “Robert E. Lee Day” in Tennessee. (Click image to enlarge)
OPINION: UDC FUNDS COULD BE USED BY BONPS FOR BATTLEFIELD PRESERVATION
Vanderbilt University recently announced that has entered into a $1.2 settlement with the United Daughters of the Confederacy which will result in the word “Confederate” being removed from the Confederate Memorial Hall dormitory on VU’s Peabody Campus. The following opinion piece from The Nashville Scene suggests uses for the funds, including a potential donation to The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society which could be used for battlefield maintenance and preservation. Read the entire article HERE.
Saturday, April 2, 2016
BONPS WAGES WAR AGAINST HONEYSUCKLE ON SUCCESSFUL “PARK DAY 2016“
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, in conjunction with The Civil War Trust and volunteers from Hands On Nashville (HON), utilized Park Day 2016 to attack the persistent encroachment of honeysuckle on the hallowed ground of Shy’s Hill.
BONPS again requested – and received — the assistance of enthusiastic volunteer workers through Hands On Nashville, who answered the call to “restore this battlefield by clearing non-native vegetation as well as renovating trails, removing brush and deadfalls, and clearing entrenchments.”
The April 2 work day was created for preservation organizations like BONPS to utilize members and volunteers to help maintain Civil War sites. As a result, hundreds of honeysuckle shrubs were cut and dragged down the hill, opening up the northern trench line and clearing the field of view on all sides of the summit. A number of dead trees were also removed during the day.
The brush piles and debris will be chipped and hauled away by The Parke Company, Nashville’s preeminent landscaping firm owned by BONPS board member Parke Brown.
BONPS President John Allyn praised the hard work of the HON volunteers, two Civil War Trust members, and Jim Sobery of the Tennessee Land Trust. Photos by Tom Lawrence
Above: A fresh breeze was flying the memorial flags on Park Day, the banners representing the United States, the Minnesota State Flag in honor of the lead attack force which overtook the Hill, and the Confederate Battle Flag representing the forces defending the Hill
Saturday, December 12, 2015
NEW STONE WALL, WALKING TOUR, HIGHLIGHT 151st ANNIVERSARY OF BATTLE
The 151st anniversary of the Battle of Nashville was held at the summit of Shy’s Hill on Saturday, December 12, 2015, featuring a summary of the battle by historian Jim Kay and the new stonework at the Minnesota monument.
Visitors to the hill were surprised to see that BONPS board member Parke Brown and his professional crew from The Parke Company, continuing their generous tradition of helping to preserve the historical sites of the battle, had completed a dry-stack stone wall around the Minnesota Monument which was dedicated in December, 2014, at the Sesquicentennial event.
The State of Minnesota lost more soldiers than any other state during the violent clash at the top of Shy’s hill on December 16, 1864. For more information on the Monument, see the Sesquicentennial page on this website.
Various visitors commented that the new stone plaza is reminiscent of stone work often featured in national battlefield parks. Ken Flies, who headed the Minnesota commission responsible for funding and placing the Monument, said that the new wall was “absolutely incredible what Parke has done. The stone is so symbolic and appropriate. A million thanks to all of you from Minnesota for your tremendous efforts.”
Former BONPS president Jim Kay lead a group of visitors on an informative tour of the Hill, from the Minnesota monument to the hilltop, stopping along the steep trail to show the remaining few feet of the original Confederate earthworks, and at the summit presenting his usual fact-filled and descriptive summary of the battle that occurred on December 16, 1864.
Above: Kay shows visitors the remnants of the original Confederate earthworks, marked by tree limbs, on the north slope of Shy’s Hill.
One of the highlights of Saturday’s event was an impromptu commentary by Nashville architect Wally Pilkinton, who told of his efforts to prevent the historic property now preserved as Confederate Redoubt No. 1 on Benham Avenue from being included in a subdivision development many years ago. One of his ancestors fought in the battle of Nashville and his family is in the process of gathering the materials to be included on the Descendants page on this website.
BONPS has begun an expensive project to replace the replica Napoleon artillery piece at the top of the Hill, which was damaged during the summer months.
October 17, 2015
SHY’S HILL, REDOUBT, GET AUTUMN FACELIFT
Spearheaded by former BONPS president Jim Kay along with Board member Sidney McAlister, a much-needed Fall clean-up at Shy’s Hill and Redoubt No. 1 got underway in mid-October, with a huge boost from students at Montgomery Bell Academy.
“We had a big workday with MBA kids,” Kay said. The work resulted in remulching of most of the winding trail up to the Shy’s summit, clean up of trash, and cutting of honeysuckle foliage around the earthworks.
In addition, the volunteers cleaned and polished the Metro Historical Marker and donor monument at Shy’s Hill (as well as two others located at Lealand Lane and Granny White
Over the summer months, the reproduction Napoleon cannon on Shy’s summit was severely damaged and BONPS is planning to move the artillery piece down the hill with a probable temporary resting place on the flat lower section where some Confederate artillery was positioned on December 16, 1864.
Kay said new cedar rails are being added to the Hill improvements. Chipping and other clean up at Shy’s and the Redoubt have been handled by BONPS board member Parke Brown and The Parke Company .
June 20, 2015
Historians Discuss Green Hills Area of Nashville Battlefield
On June 20, 2015, three historians and long-time residents of the Green Hills area of Davidson County recounted the history of the area, including discussions of the Battle of Nashville and the battlefield itself, as part of the annyal Green Hills Historic Homecoming event.
To watch a video of the event, click here.
The guest panelists were well-known local authors Paul Clements, Tom Henderson and George Spain.
The Green Hills Library and The Green Hills Action Partners (TGHAP) presented the annual Green Hills Historic Homecoming panel discussion at the Green Hills Library. This is the 12th year of the event.
May 23, 2015
Fort Negley Hosts Memorial Day Event
On Saturday, May 23, 2015, Memorial Day was commemorated at Fort Negley with emphasis on the roles played by newly freed slaves and African-American Federal soldiers in the construction and defense of the fort.
According to the article published in the Nashville Tennessean, an estimated 600 – 800 local and newly-freed slaves died during construction of the fort prior to the battle of Nashville in December, 1864.
Krista Castillo, Fort Negley museum coordinator, pointed out that it is largely assumed that “because Fort Negley was never attacked that no one died here, and they often forget that battle deaths aren’t the only deaths.” She added that Fort Negley is “sacred ground” because of the sacrifices made by those involved in its construction under harsh circumstances.
In attendance at the ceremony were Civil War reenactors Bill Radcliffe and Gary Burke, dressed in Federal uniforms to commemorate the observance. Gary Burke Is a member of the Board of Directors of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. In the Tennessean article, he was quoted as pointing out that he wears the Federal uniform “to honor those who cannot be here to be honored themselves,” adding “that’s our battle today, to make sure that they are recognized, not us.” His great – great grandfather served in the Battle of Nashville as a member of the United States Colored Troops who saw intense action in the battle on both December 15 and 16, 1864.
For a complete report on the commemoration event, see the Tennessean’s article written by Tennessean writer Collin Cjarnecki with photos by Tennessean photographer Shelley Mays.
March 28, 2015
PARK DAY 2015: BONPS AND VOLUNTEERS CONSTRUCT TRAIL TO NEW MONUMENT
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society again hosted “Park Day” on Saturday, March 28, 2015, at Shy’s Hill.
This year’s goal was construction of a timber-and-mulch trail to the new Minnesota Monument which was placed and dedicated just prior to the Battle of Nashville Sesquicentennial event in December, 2014.
In addition to BONPS board members, the trail was created with help from Clay Bailey of Montgomery Bell Academy and a group of MBA students: Charlie Bailey, Clay Cavallo, Davis Cavallo, Alex Stevens, Jeremy Choo, and Matt Miccioli. Also assisting were three volunteers from Hands On Nashville, including Nashville engineers Andrew Southern and Justin Twyford, and Heather Richards, who drove all the way from Shelbyville to participate.
“Park Day was successful because of the hard work and commitment to volunteer services by Clay Bailey and his MBA crew as well as the Hands On Nashville volunteers. BONPS is extremely appreciative for their participation in helping to preserve this part of the battlefield,” said John Allyn, president of BONPS.
Final work including some “professional tweaking” will be done by BONPS Board member Parke Brown and his crew from The Parke Company.
Park Day, sponsored by The Civil War Trust, is now in its 19th year. According to the CWT, it’s an annual hands-on preservation event to help maintain Civil War — and now Revolutionary War — battlefields and historic sites across the nation.
History buffs, community leaders, preservationists and other volunteers fanned out across 108 historic sites in 29 states for the annual spring cleanup at America’s battlefields and historic sites. In 2014, nearly 9,000 volunteers converged on 104 sites across the country, where they donated more than 35,000 service hours.
NEW HISTORICAL MARKER DESCRIBES IMPORTANCE OF RADNOR LAKE STATE PARK’S INVOLVEMENT IN CIVIL WAR
A new historical marker is being planned for Radnor Lake State Park to explain the park area’s involvement in the Civil War, especially the Battle of Nashville.
The marker is part of a grant funded by the Department of Tourism for Civil War markers to be installed in various Tennessee State Parks. The Radnor Lake marker will be located at the Visitor Center off of Granny White Pike along the main entrance sidewalk.
The text of the marker, which was written by former BONPS president Jim Kay and approved by the BONPS Board of Directors, emphasizes the role of the Radnor area during the retreat of the Confederate army through the gap in the Brentwood Hills following their defeat on the second day of the Battle of Nashville — December 16, 1864.
The marker is expected to be placed and dedicated in the late Fall of 2014, just in time to be a part of the Battle of Nashville Sesquicentennial commemoration. It will read as follows:
BONPS PLAYS ROLE IN HOSTING CIVIL WAR TRUST ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN NASHVILLE
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society was heavily involved in Nashville’s hosting of the annual national conference of the Civil War Trust — “Twilight In The Western Theatre” — on May 28 through June 1, 2014, in Nashville.
BONPS held a reception for the Board of Directors of CWT at the home of Jim and Elaine Kay, located less than 100 yards from the stone wall which was defended on December 16, 1864, by Maj. Gen. William Loring’s Division of Stewart’s Corps. About 50 Board members and their spouses attended the event, which was highlighted by a concert by Nashville songwriter and recording artist Tim Nichols, who has written songs for numerous major country artists and won a Grammy award for Best Country Song in 2004.
BONPS also sponsored an exhibit booth at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center where the conference was held. Board member Jim Kay submitted an article on the history of Nashville’s battlefield preservation for the CWT program.
In addition to books and other items for sale at the BONPS table, the featured items were bowls and other artistic works fashioned from a 400-year old Burr Oak “witness tree” which stands within sight of the “Battle of the Barricade” where Confederate cavalry blocked Union troops in pursuit of the retreating Confederate army on Granny White Pike. Proceeds will be used by BONPS for the continued maintenance of battlefield sites.
The CWT convention was a significant success, attended by numerous advocates of battlefield preservation and Civil War history from all over the country. They came to hear the series of lectures by well-known Civil War historians on the battles in Middle Tennessee, and to attend battlefield tours which included the Battle of Nashville, Spring Hill and Franklin, Tullahoma, Ft. Donelson, and historic homes in Middle Tennessee.
Monuments Dedicated to Minnesotans Killed At Shy’s Hill
New markers are being dedicated in Plainview, Minnesota for three 10th Minnesota soldiers, including the only two Minnesota soldiers killed on the same day in the Civil War and buried together in the state. A third is located in another small nearby cemetery.
The three soldiers were all in Co. C, which was on the extreme left of the 10th Minnesota which was on the left of the Brigade that made the assault on Shy’s Hill.
On July 19, 2014, dedications were held for three other soldiers killed in combat in Nashville, including a captain and lieutenant in the 9th and a corporal in the 10th.
Major General Rick Nash of the 34th Division (Red Bull Division) will be the keynote speaker at the dedications in Plainview.
See Flyer for Plainview Minnesota Dedication
Thanks to Parke Brown
Shy’s Hill Gets New Trail For Sesquicentennial
The first “official” preparations for the Battle of Nashville Sesquicentennial year began in February as BONPS Board member Parke Brown and his professional landscaping crew from The Parke Company, Inc. (http://www.theparkecompany.com/) rebuilt the winding trail up the East slope and gave the summit a facelift with weedeaters and chain saws.
The result: Shy’s Hill and its topside memorial plaza look like a well-manicured state park, just in time for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the battle on the hill on December 16, 1864.
“It’s a good time to experience the uphill walk and contemplate the sacrifices made during battle,” Parke said. His crew spent 100 man hours in February, 2014, installing the 150 8-foot beams which are laid out end-to-end to line the winding three-foot-wide trail. Each beam was drilled and then anchored into the hillside with three 24-inch iron rebar rods. The trail surface was then filled with 12 cubic yard of hardwood mulch.
In all, the project resulted in the installation of 1,200 linear feet of 4×4 beams (purchased and delivered up the hill by Board member Sidney McAlister, Parke noted) and 420 pieces of rebar. Up top, the trails and debris were trimmed out and cleaned up, mud and debris removed from the concrete circle forming part of the memorial flag plaza, and the battle against honeysuckle continued.
“Parke’s contributions of manpower, materials, time and expertise have made Shy’s Hill ready for the Sesquicentennial in grand style. It shows what a difference professionals can make and gives the hill the park-like appearance it needs in order to honor the men who fought up there,” said John Allyn, BONPS president. “BONPS and everyone who visits the hill greatly appreciates Parke’s work. Now, if I could just get up the hill without stopping!”
December 6, 2013
ED BEARSS BRINGS BATTLE TO LIFE
Ed Bearss with BONPS board members (L-R) Jim Kay, Tom Lawrence, Philip Duer, Sidney McAlister, and John Allyn (Photo by Elaine Kay)
A crowd of about 60 braved serious threats of an icy winter storm warning on December 6, 2013, to hear Civil War historian Ed Bearss give his insights into General John Bell Hood at the home of Jim and Elaine Kay, which rests on the battlefield within sight of the stone wall marking “Stewart’s Line.”
Mr. Bearss (pronounced “bars”), as eloquent and entertaining at 90 as ever, flew in the night before from his home in Virginia to give yet another of the thousands of presentations he has made in his career as a National Parks and Smithsonian Institute Civil War historian. (See the link at the end of this post for a recent article on his career dating back to his days as Director of the Vicksburg Civil War Park.)
The evening at the Kays’ house was co-sponsored by both Traveler’s Rest and the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society and occurred only a week before the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Nashville.
Mr. Bearss chose as his topic a story-filled review of General Hood’s march into Tennessee in late 1864. With the booming voice that has made him the consummate battlefield guide, he spoke without notes for nearly 40 minutes as he traced Hood’s journey from Florence, Alabama, into Tennessee, spicing his history with anecdotes involving Hood during the highlights of the march including Spring Hill, Franklin, and finally Nashville.
Among his many points was his apparent approval of the conclusion reached in the new book about General Hood from his distant relative, Stephen Hood, which criticized the oft-printed conclusion that Hood’s mind was adversely affected by a combination of laudanum and whiskey.
Along the way, Mr. Bearss told stories about General George Thomas and his political and personality skirmishes with Gen. John Schofield, revisited the classic story of General Earl Van Dorn and his demise at the hands of Dr. George Peters over an affair with his wife in Spring Hill, and many other vignettes told as only a professional storyteller like Ed Bearss can.
In taking questions from the rapt audience, he was asked by Jim Kay which of the hundreds of battlefields he has visited in his lifetime as a Civil War historian and field guide was the most moving to him. Without hesitation, he answered: Franklin.
Before Mr. Bearss’ presentation, Jim Kay introduced and showed a video trailer for a documentary film being produced in Nashville by David Currie and others entitled, “American Journey: The Life and Times of Ed Bearss.”
Despite the warnings of sleet and accumulating snow, the crowd reconvened the next morning at Traveler’s Rest for a day-long bus tour of sites depicting the Battle of Nashville. Again, the frozen precipitation held off, and the bus tour hit its spots with Mr. Bearss in the front of the bus, and at the head of the line at each battlefield stop, interpreting the battle sites with fresh insights from his extraordinary experience and knowledge.
For an excellent article summarizing the highlights of Mr. Bearss’s career as a Civil War historian and battlefield guide, see the recent article in Arlington Magazine by Kim O’Connell:
Below is the 2013 Battle of Nashville bus tour itinerary.
Start. Travellers Rest Historic House, 636 Farrell Parkway, Nashville, Tennessee 37220. Group will park their cars here and take a tour of the home. The bus can park in the large gravel parking lot in front of the home. Bus arrives at 9:30 am; plan on 10:00 am departure.
Stop 1. Granbury’s Lunette, located adjacent to 190 Polk Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37210. Suggested route: Right on Farrell Parkway, right on Lambert Drive, right on Franklin Pike, right on Harding Place, north on I-65, east on I-440, exit Nolensville Pike, north on Nolensville Pike, right on Polk Avenue, cross railroad overpass, park on very wide shoulder or in parking lot. 5.6 miles, 15 minutes. 20 minute stop, passengers disembark.
Stop 2. Redoubt # 1, 3422 Benham Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. Suggested route: backtrack on Polk to Nolensville Pike, left on Nolensville Pike, right (west) on I-440, exit Hillsboro Pike (south), left on Woodmont, left on Stokesmont Road, left on Stokes Lane, left on Benham Avenue. The redoubt is at the crest of the hill. 8.5 miles, 20 minutes. Park on shoulder; the road is not very wide but wide enough for a car to get by the bus. Passengers disembark, 15 minutes.
Stop 3. Redoubt # 3, located in parking lot at Calvary United Methodist Church, 3701 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. Suggested route: south on Benham, left on Woodmont, left on Hillsboro, right into church parking lot. Surviving piece of the redoubt is at the very back of the church property. Ample parking in the church parking lot. 5 mile, 15 minutes. Passengers disembark, 15 minutes.
Stop 4. John Trotwood Moore Middle School, 4425 Granny White Pike, Nashville, Tennessee 37204, located at the intersection of Lone Oak Drive and Granny White Pike. Suggested route: there is an exit from the church parking lot on to Crestmoor Road. Take this exit and take a right on Crestmoor and a left on Abbott Martin. Zigzag across .Hillsboro at the light and proceed on Richard Jones Road to its intersection with Lone Oak Road. 2 miles, 15 minutes. Go right at Lone Oak Road which will curve to the east. Pull into the parking lot at John Trotwood Moore Middle School. There will be ample parking. Passengers disembark, 20 minutes
Stop 5. Fort Negley, 1100 Fort Negley Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee 37203. Suggested route: Left on Granny White, proceed on Granny White/12th Avenue South to Edgehill Avenue, right on Edgehill, cross 8th Avenue South, left on Fort Negley Boulevard, right into park entrance. 4 miles, 15 minutes. Ample street parking. Lunch stop, 1 hour. We will have a box lunch for the driver. If the weather is nice we will eat lunch in the fort at the top of the hill. The gates will be removed so that the bus can drive up to the top. If it is not nice we will have lunch in the auditorium in the visitor center.
Stop 6. Nashville City Cemetery, corner of Oak Street and 4th Avenue South, 1001 4th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203. Enter by gate on 4th Avenue North, not the gate at the intersection. Buses are not allowed in the cemetery. Suggested route: Right on Fort Negley Boulevard, pass Adventure Science Museum, continue across railroad overpass onto Oak Street, turn right at 4th Avenue South, stop at gate near the southeast end of the cemetery. .8 mile, 5 minutes. Bus can park on the street. Passengers disembark. 20 minutes.
Stop 7. Shy’s Hill, 4617 Benton Smith Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. Suggested route: South on 4th Avenue South, veer right on Rains Avenue, right on Wedgewood, south on I-65, exit Harding Place, right on Harding place, continue on Harding Place/Battery Lane to Benton Smith, left on Benton Smith Drive. 8.5 miles, 20 minutes. Passengers disembark. Road is too narrow for bus to remain; park in parking lot of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church (proceed south on Benton Smith, left on Burton Valley, proceed into parking lot at the intersection with Belmont Park Terrace. 1 hour. We will call the driver when we come back down the hill.
Stop 8. Peach Orchard Hill. Upper parking lot, Franklin Road Academy, 333 Franklin Pike, Nashville, Tennessee 37220. Suggested route: Belmont Park Terrace to Battery Lane, left on Battery Lane, left on Benton Smith, embark passengers. Proceed south on Benton Smith, left on Burton Valley, right on Belmont Park Terrace, left on Tyne Boulevard, proceed on Tyne Boulevard to Lealand Lane, left on Lealand Lane, right on Battery Lane, right on Franklin Pike, left at southernmost entrance to Franklin Road Academy, proceed to uppermost back parking lot. 3.6 miles 20 minutes. Passengers disembark. 30 minutes.
Return to Travellers Rest. 1 mile, 5 minutes
October 19, 2013
13th USCT Veterans Honored in Maury County
On October 19, 2013, a special ceremony was held at the Maury County Court House in honor of 54 members of the 13th United States Colored Troops who fought from that county in the Civil War. A contingent of USCT reenactors participated in the ceremony in full dress uniforms; among them was Gary Burke, a member of the BONPS Board of Directors whose ancestor fought in the Battle of Nashville in 1864.
Nashville’s WTVF Channel 5 reporter Aundrea Cline-Thomas was present at the ceremony and filed the following the Video Report (click to view video).
She posted the report below on the Chan. 5 website:
By Aundrea Cline-Thomas
COLUMBIA, Tenn. – African American soldiers who fought during the Civil War have been honored in Maury County.
The names of the men who fought in the 13th United States Colored Troops Regiment were added to a memorial at the county courthouse in Columbia. Many historians feared the often untold story of the regiment would be forgotten. Although some of the men who fought were free men, many were slaves who served in the Union Army and fought for their freedom.
More than 200,000 African American soldiers were members of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. Until recently, their stories have widely gone untold.
“All history is important,” George Smith, 13th United States Colored Troop Living Association reenactor said. “If you leave out any aspect then it’s not complete.”
Five men dressed in uniforms resembling those worn during the Civil War reenacted the bravery of both freemen and slaves. “They left these plantations,” historian and reenactor Norman Hill explained. “They left their portions of servitude and joined the Union army.”
The soldiers joined the 13th U.S. Colored Troops Regiment that started in Murfreesboro. “What goes through the mind of a man who’s been in bondage for over 200 years, his people, to pick up a rifle and say I’m willing to fight for my own freedom,” Smith asked “That gives me a chill when I think about that..”
150 years later it’s up to the members of the Living History Association to share the sacrifices that are often untold; or worse forgotten.
“I am a descendent of one of those soldiers,” reenator Gary Burk explained. “Peter Bailey of Company K of the…United States Colored Troops that fought….in 1864.”
On Saturday, the names of 54 African American Civil War soldiers from Maury County are now etched in stone. “I wish that more of a young generation was here so they could see this historic moment,” attendee Johnny Armstrong said.
The names of the Civil War soldiers are now next to the names of their fallen comrades from other wars like Armstrong’s brothers.
“Generations…can come here and look and see where they came from and say…not only did the white(s) participate in the civil war but we also had those who were slaves at the time,” Armstrong said. Four white soldiers who fought for the Union Army were also added to the memorial.
July 27, 2013
2013 Civil War Model Show Held At Fort Negley
A model show with emphasis on the Civil War was held at Fort Negley on July 27, 2013. There were 7 exhibitors and an exhibition of a war game of the Battle of Stones River. Show director Philip Duer, former president of BONPS, reported that “although not completed at the end of the Model Show, the results came close to what happened during the actual battle!”
Model displays varied from a 2nd Century B.C. diorama of a barbarian ambush of a Roman legion detachment to a 1/6th scale WWII glider built by an actual pilot (Ret. Col. Al Hulstrunk) who flew combat missions into Germany during the war. The People’s Choice Award went to Todd Jackson for his stunningly realistic Afrika Korps (“Rommel on the Hunt”) diorama in 1/6th scale. John Mansfield won for his beautiful French 17th Century wooden warships and Jamison Gorrell for his Monitor and Merrimac battle diorama.
The following were the award categories and winners:
People’s Choice Award: “Rommel on the Hunt” Todd Jackson
Civil War Infantry: 1st & 2nd Place (1) “Cleburne’s Div.” & (2) “Zouaves” Jeff Williams of Murfreesboro
Civil War Ships: 1st Place “Monitor & Merrimac” Jamison Gorrell
Toy Solder Collection 1st Place “Burnside’s Bridge” Jamison Gorrell
Open – All Eras: 1st Place WWI Glider Display Col. (Ret.) Al Hulstrunk
2nd Place 17th Century French Warships John Mansfield
3rd Place Mine Displays (to Infinity) Col. Al Hulstrunk
Modelers below age 15: 1st Place Titanic (wooden ship model) Eric Lindelof
Certificate of Appreciation: Railroad Display John Allyn
War Game-Battle of Stones River Al Gaiser & Company
“I would like to thank Krista Castillo, Director at Fort Negley, and her staff for their help in putting this show on; it was very much appreciated. I would also like to thank Paul Smith for his great photographs which we have placed on our website,” Duer said. “This is the second year BONPS has supported a model show. We expect to have another show next year at Fort Negley in July, and I would encourage you to participate as a spectator, model builder, or to spread the word to children of all ages to compete and learn about history.”
For information about next year’s show, contact Philip Duer at (615) 301-4800 or email@example.com.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Civil War Park Day: Shy’s Hill
The Civil War Trust and History™ annually sponsors “Park Day,” an opportunity for volunteers to converge on nearby Civil War preserved areas to help maintain the grounds and improve the appearance and interpretation of the site. The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society participated with a Battle of Nashville Park Day 2013 work session on April 6, 2013, at Shy’s Hill.
Nationally, the Civil War Trust has sponsored Park Day since 1996. It was designed to be “an annual hands-on preservation event to help Civil War battlefields and historic sites take on maintenance projects large and small. Activities are chosen by each participating site to meet their own particular needs and can range from raking leaves and hauling trash to painting signs and trail buildings.” For more details, see the CWT website on Park Day at http://www.civilwar.org/aboutus/events/park-day/
Here is BONPS President John Allyn’s report on the day’s work:
“The Civil War Preservation Trust designated April 6 as the 2013 Park Day, an occasion at which volunteers would work to upgrade and maintain significant Civil War sites. We were no exception. Although our usual pool of college fraternity labor was missing due to out-of-town parties (priorities, you know) members and parents from the Children of the Confederacy (high school kids for the most part) came and did their part on Shy’s Hill, a key part of the Nashville battlefield. The major effort was devoted to unloading 150 landscape timbers and placing them alongside the steep and tortuous trail up the hillside. Following that the group cut up fallen trees on the site and used the branches and logs as “abatis” and “head logs” to mark the Confederate trench line. BONPS board members Sidney McAlister, John Allyn and Philip Duer also provided assistance.”
Above: What to do next? Philip Duer, Past President of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society speaks with Kristie Welch, Cookeville, Tennessee and Susan Harris, Nashville, Tennessee about the next task.
BONPS ANNUAL MEETING REPORT 2013
More than 60 members of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society convened for the groups’s Annual Meeting on January 31, 2013, at the home of John and Cary Allyn, which sits within the range of a minie ball fired from the sites of Confederate Redoubts 2 and 3.
The event was highlighted by the installation of John Allyn, a Nashville attorney known for his scholarly writing on the Battle of Nashville (much of which is published on the BONPS website), as the new president of BONPS.
Unfortunately, outgoing president Philip Duer was ill and unable to attend. In comments during the program, former BONPS president Jim Kay praised Philip’s outstanding two-year tour of duty, including ramping the group up for the Civil War Sesquicentennial which began in April, 2011 and will progress toward the 150th anniversary of the battle of Nashville on December 15, 2014.
Philip’s energetic presidency included a wide array of activities sponsored by BONPS, ranging from historical lectures at Belmont Mansion to the Civil War play “The Andersonville Trial” at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. On the preservation front, he continued the Board’s drive toward locating and putting strategies in place to acquire additional pieces of the battlefield and maintaining those which are already owned by BONPS. He also pushed for reactivation of the website and methods for honoring descendants of the battle’s soldiers including the 2012 December 16 Shy’s Hill Memorial wreath-laying event.
In his opening comments, Jim Kay recognized these accomplishments and thanked Phil on behalf of the Board and the membership. He gave a brief status report on the continued growth of BONPS, which is now in possession of preserved Land-Trust protected battlefield sites valued at more than $1 million, carries no debt, has established an email mailing list of more than 1,000 names, and continues to expand its website which, since its reconstruction in March of 2011, has logged more than 160,000 hits and is being developed into a key resource on all aspects of the battle.
As a non-profit historical organization, however, BONPS continues to need and seek private contributions to enable it to preserve and maintain what remains of the battlefield. In that regard, Jim pointed out that BONPS owns a large inventory of books and DVDs which it sells on the website, the profits of which are used for battlefield upkeep and acquisition expenses. In addition, donations can be made by using the PayPal button on the website.
To commemorate Philip’s two-year service, the Board presented him with an original collector’s edition of The Twelve Decisive Battles of the War by William Swinton. The colorful author was a war correspondent for the New York Times who was known for aggressively pursuing his stories on the front lines — a tendency which almost cost him his life. At one point he was accused of eavesdropping on the conversations of Generals Grant and Meade. Grant let him off with a reprimand, but Gen. Burnside, still smarting from a story written by Swinton, pushed for a more ultimate punishment. Grant, thinking Burnside intended to have Swinton shot, expelled him from military access
Using these and other interesting experiences at the front, Swinton penned several books on the War including The Twelve Decisive Battles of the War, which was published in 1867 and was based largely on interviews with the participants, among whom was Union Gen. George Thomas.
In another highlight of the evening, a new collector’s item was made available by BONPS for the first time – ink pens crafted from a branch that fell from The Witness Tree, the large Basket Oak that stands sentinel over the Battle of Nashville Monument on Granny White Pike near the site of the original Confederate breast works on the first day of the battle. The pens sold out quickly but the few remaining will be made available on the BONPS website in the future. For more on the Witness Tree, click here.
The Board also presented BONPS webmaster Tom Lawrence with an autographed copy of Wiley Sword’s Embrace an Angry Wind, which was published in 1992, the same year BONPS came into existence. The book was later published with the title The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah — Spring Hill, Franklin & Nashville.
A 2012 YEAR-END MESSAGE
Philip Duer, Out-going President, Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, Inc.
I want to thank each of you for your support, encouragement, help and participation during the last 2 years that I have had the privilege of being president of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. As of the end of this year, however, I will be stepping down as President.
It was Doug Jones that encouraged me to join years ago and I want to personally thank him for opening the door to an organization I did not know existed. If you will bear with me, I want to explain what this organization has meant to me and how it transformed my view of the Civil War.
I had always been a history buff, but my interest in the Civil War started Christmas day, 1960. That Christmas morning I received the two volume set, “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War”. It was a present from my great uncle. From my parents I got the Marx Centennial Civil War play set. I cannot tell you how many hours I poured over those books and played with those Civil War soldiers, positioning them in imaginary charges and battle lines. I still have the books and I have acquired re-casts of the soldiers, but my play set is long gone. My great uncle, Uncle Phil, for whom I was named was born in Virginia though when I knew him, he lived in Bronxville New York. He was an avid CW buff tracing our CW roots to Col. Aylett of the Army of Northern Virginia. My grandmother Nana’s father was Julius Gordon Miller, a graduate of VMI, the class of 1860. The first duty of that class was to provide security while John Brown was hung. Julius Gordon Miller was in the 5th Virginia Cavalry and later on Fitzhugh Lee’s staff. As a teenager I had been to Appomattox with my father on a sales trip. So, as you can see, my CW roots were deep in Virginia and my CW eye was turned to those eastern campaigns.
Then late in high school, I read for the first time Sam Watkins’s classic. I started to turn toward the western theatre. I read “Company Aytch” over and over. I got my mother to take me to the Battle of Nashville re-enactment during the Centennial at Percy Warner Park watching the battle lines move over the field where the Iroquois steeplechase is run. I remember to this day a bearded Union officer on a white horse with a drawn saber. I have few CW artifacts, mainly bullets but one of my treasured CW items I bought 30+ years ago is a reproduction cavalry guidon which was used during the Centennial re-enactment. I went to the Carter House and pondered those bullet holes in the outbuildings. My mind was turning west but it was 15 miles south of Nashville –from Winstead Hill to the Carter House. Gettysburg and Pickett’s Charge had been replaced by Winstead hill and the Carter House.
What I am trying to say in a windy way is that it was my introduction to this organization, the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, that opened my eyes fully as to what happened here and how Nashville played such a pivotal part in the Civil War from start to finish. I am hooked. My Civil War mind is now fully focused on Nashville, from Fort Negley to Shy’s Hill, from Traveler’s Rest to Peach Orchard hill, from Granbury’s Lunette to Kelly’s Point. What a great story we have to tell of our city and the role it played. I have many people to thank for that, past presidents and board members, and many of you who I have met and who have contributed to my evolving knowledge. I have met many great people including those members of the NCWRT and FCWRT. I would not have been a member of those organizations had it not been for BONPS. I particularly want to thank my Board members, Jim Kay, John Allyn, Jim Atkinson, Gary Burke, Parke Brown, Tom Lawrence, Sidney McAlister, and Ellen McClanahan. I had a great working Board who each brought diverse skills and ideas to the table and were always there to help. I hope I have added to the foundation of this organization and feel that the next president will have a solid, loyal membership to advance the mission of BONPS as we move toward the 150th anniversary.
Sincerely, Philip W. Duer, Pres. BONPS (2011 – 2012)
In Memorium: John K. Rau
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society lost a good friend upon the passing of John K. Rau, 66, of Nashville. John’s keen interest in the Civil War and the Battle of Nashville led him to become a supporter of BONPS and to make many friends in the organization. He died on November 26, 2012. Below is his obituary from The Nashville Tennessean:
John Keller Rau, 66 of Nashville, passed away on November 26, 2012. Preceded in death by his parents, E.L.A. and Frances Pangborn Rau, his brother Jim and his son Taylor. Survived by his daughter, Leslie and his son Dan; friend and mother of his children, Lynn Rau; nephew, Patrick Rau; nieces, Kathryn Maskow and Karen Parsons. He was a graduate of Peabody Demonstration School and Florida Southern College, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After serving in the Army on the general’s staff in Taegu, Korea, John joined Southern Oil Company, his family’s business. A memorial service will be held on Friday, December 28, 2012, at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Mission Scholarships at First Presbyterian Church.
Military Model Show
On July 28, 2012, The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society sponsored the Civil War, Model and Toy Soldier Show at Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum. The show featured intricate hand-made models of not only Civil War soldiers and equipment, but also World War II and other era soldiers, ordnance, armor, weapons and vehicles.
Philip Duer, president of BONPS, stated that the organization expects to put the Show on again next year as news of its success spreads. Those in attendance marveled at the precise detailed work in miniature by model builders Todd Jackson, Roger Tenney, Carter Todd, Jamison Gorrell, Al Gaiser, and Phil Duer.
For a look at more of the excellent artistry and craftmanship on display at the show, see the photographs by Nashvillian David Raybin at this link.
In Memoriam: David R. Logsdon
David Logsdon was the author of a series of “eyewitness” books, including Eyewitnesses at The Battle of Nashville, and was a special friends of BONPS. He will be missed by BONPS and all who seek to understand the personal stories of those who fought in the Civil War. Below is a portion of his obituary which appeared in The Nashville Tennessean:
David Russell LOGSDON. Age 67 of Little Lot, TN, died Saturday, July 14, 2012 at St. Thomas Hospital after a short-term illness. He was a Columbia native, a former editor of The Daily Herald in Columbia, TN and a retiree of The Tennessean. In recent years, he began a company, Kettle Mills Press, under which he published a series of books featuring first person accounts of the Civil War. He received a Bronze Star for serving under combat conditions in Vietnam during his September 1967 to June 1969 enlistment as an Artillery Sergeant in the U. S. Army. He was a May 1975 graduate of the University of Alabama, and was a high school teacher in both Huntsville, AL and Centerville, TN. His newspaper work began in March 1978 as a reporter for the Huntsville News in Alabama. In 1980, he became news editor of The Mt. Pleasant Record in Maury County and in 1984, became city editor for The Daily Herald in Columbia. Shortly afterward, he became editor of The Herald. In February 1987, he went to work for the Nashville Banner. After the Banner closed in 1998, he spent a short stint as a public affairs officer for FEMA’s Disaster Services before joining the staff of The Tennessean. He retired in May 2011. … Memorials may be made to Old Well Cemetery Fund, c/o Clyde Farris, 1204 WKRM Lane, Columbia, TN 38401.
New FREE App: Tennessee Civil War 150
Now Available here.
“The Civil War in Tennessee tells the story of a state divided and a population at the mercy of total war. This complimentary app from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission provides a look at the people, places and battles of the war that pitted friends and family against each other in bitter conflict.
“See maps, memorabilia and images of people, arms and documents that tell the stories of everyday citizens and soldiers. Learn about the leaders of men and eyewitnesses to the destruction, the famous battles, historic sites and pivotal events that shaped history.”
Benefit from these features in the iPhone app:
• View linked information connecting people with relevant places
• See images of preserved artifacts, maps and documents
• Find hotels and restaurants on your trip
• Check in to your favorite locations
• Store pictures of your trip
• Share on Facebook
May 1, 2012
British Visit Middle Tennessee Civil War Sites
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society and Travellers Rest co-hosted six members of the American Civil War Round Table UK (ACWRT-UK)on May 1, 2012, as part of the British trip to Middle Tennessee for the Civil War Sesquicentennial.
The ACWRT-UK was one of the first “round table” organizations begun in the 1950s to study the American Civil War. Its members have made numerous trips to various Civil War locations in the U.S., including previous trips to Tennessee.
The group’s 10-day Civil War tour began for the six Brits with a two-day stay in Nashville, after which they were treated to a reception on the veranda of Travellers Rest, the famed 1799 manse of Judge John Overton, as the guests of the TR staff and BONPS. Brian Allison of TR led the group through a fact-packed tour of the house, recounting the stories of the famed mansion that occurred during the battle ofNashville. Reminding them that this was the HQ of Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, he pointed out the rooms in which the Confederate officers planned the battle, and where they slept and ate, in the run-up to the December 15-16, 1864 battle.
The tour group was led by Peter Gasgoyne-Lockwood, a former president of ACWRT-UK and operator of Old County Military History Tours, Inc. Their CW tour will end in Atlanta on May 10, covering a wide variety of CW battlefields such as Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, Chickamauga and Kennesaw. The 2012 tour schedule also includes Texas & the Alamo, Custer & the Little Big Horn, and The First & Second World Wars. Mr. Lockwood is also personally interested in saving what remains of the American 8th AAF WWII airfields in East Anglia; the Friends of Rougham Airfield have already restored an 8th Air Force control Tower at Rougham and turned it into a museum. For contributions, contact www.rougham.org.
In attendance from their various locations in England were tour leader Peter Gasgoyne-Lockwood of Old Country Military & History Tours Inc.; John Murray; Marjorie Ward; Paul Sims; Keith Bright; and Nigel Butler.
On hand to greet the visitors were Philip Duer, president of BONPS, along with many members of the BONPS board of directors, and Mary Kerr, executive director of Travellers Rest, along with other TR staff and board member Fred Crown.
ACWRT-UK was created in recognition of the British involvement in the American Civil War, in which both the North and South sought support from Great Britain. According to the group’s website, the War resulted in both intense interest and division in England and the islands because on the one hand, the country was opposed to slavery, and on the other, it had a keen interest in the cotton industry which required slave labor. For more on the UK Round Table, visit their website.
December 10, 2011
Shy’s Hill: A History Walk With The Mayor
A throng of history-loving Nashvillians hiked to the summit of Shy’s Hill with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean on Saturday, December 10, 2011, as part of the Sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War. The hike occurred just days before the 147th anniversary of the vicious fighting that occurred on the hilltop and its surrounding area on the afternoon of December 16, 1864. At the summit, Battle of Nashville expert Jim Kay, past-president of BONPS, described the historic battle and its place in Nashville, Tennessee, and American history. [Photos by Elaine Kay]
November 11 – 12, 2011
“The War Comes to Tennessee” — A Sesqui-Symposium
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society (BONPS) joined with Belmont Mansion and the Lotz House to bring a significant Sesquicentennial symposium on the Civil War in Middle Tennessee on November 11 and 12 to further commemorate and explore the 150th anniversary of the start of the War.
The symposium began with an opening night reception at the Lotz House in Franklin, Tennessee on Friday, November 11, 2011. Attendees were led on a fact-filled and inspiring tour the historic Lotz House Museum by its director and former BONPS president, J.T. Thompson.
The formal Symposium kicked off the following morning at Belmont Mansion at 8:00 a.m. Six guest speakers focused on unique perspectives regarding the Battle of Nashville, Ft. Donelson and Shiloh. The event was moderated by Thomas Flagel, assistant professor of American History at Columbia State Community College. Panelists included:
- Thomas Cartwright – Franklin-based historian, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the Battle of Franklin
- Tim Johnson, professor of history at David Lipscomb University, who has appeared on the History Channel,C-SPAN and NPT.
- Carole Bucy, professor of History at Vol State Community College and the newly appointed Metro Historian.
- James McDonough, noted author of Five Tragic Hours and Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble.
- Doug Richardson, Park Ranger and Chief of Interpretation at Fort Donelson.
- Dr. Bobby Lovett, long-time professor of History at Tennessee State University and authored several books on African American history, most notably “African American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930.”
Ancestor Videos. In a unique feature of the Symposium, guests were able to videotape their personal stories of ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Click on the link below to access the videos from the Lotz House website
September 24, 2011
“Living History & Skirmish”
Fort Negley Visitors Center, Nashville
Friends of Fort Negley hosted its annual “Living History & Skirmish” on Saturday, September 24, 2011. More than 400 visitors attended and were treated to reenactors displaying campsites, fighting skirmishes, firing cannons and related events. Below are photos including “antique” photos shot by professional photographer Paul Schatzkins of the “1861 Project” and others by Mrs. David M. DuBrucq.
June 17 – 18, 2011
Presentation of “The Andersonville Trial” by The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, Inc. and Lamplighters Theatre
As part of the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War, BONPS and Lamplighters Theatre sponsored three performances on June 17 and 18, 2011, of “The Andersonville Trial,” the time-tested play by Saul Levitt that explores the legal and moral conflict between military orders and human conscience.
Levitt based his play on the official records of the actual trial of Captain Henry Wirz, the commander of the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. During the 14 months of the prison’s operation, more than 40,000 Union prisoners were kept there, and nearly 13,000 died. Clara Barton assisted with the processing and identification of bodies at Andersonville at the end of the war and realized the need for an organization to assist in cases of dire need. She founded the American Red Cross as a result 16 years later.
The play dramatizes the Union court martial of Capt. Wirz, presided over by Gen. Lew Wallace, who later became famous as the author of the novel Ben Hur.Captain Wirz was the only officer, North or South, tried and convicted for war crimes during the Civil War. He was sentenced to death by hanging.
As audiences arrived at the church, they were treated to performances of original period 19th Century music written by numerous Nashville songwriters as part of the 1961 Project. For more information, see http://1861project.com/, and to sample the music, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl8yyfZNh0U&feature=player_embedded#at=76.
In addition, preliminary remarks giving perspective to Civil War POW camps, including Andersonville, were made by historian and author Thomas R. Flagel.
The performances occurred at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, once the church of Andrew Jackson. The church was present at the corner of 5th and Church Streets during the Union occupation of Nashville. During the war, it was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers and was known as Hospital No. 8 containing 206 beds. For more details of the church’s history, see The Church.
Re-enactors Served as “Guards”
BONPS HOSTS ANNUAL BANQUET WITH GUEST SPEAKERS
On the evening of March 26, 2011, BONPS hosted its annual gathering at Travellers Rest, headquarters of Confederate General John Bell Hood during the pivotal Battle of Nashville in 1864. The program was highlighted by two sought-after speakers. Dennis Boggs, a renowned impersonator of President Abraham Lincoln, convincingly brought the President to life from the pages of history as he spoke of the burdensome problems which Lincoln struggled with during the days of secession and its aftermath.
Noted speaker and professor of history Thomas Flagel of Columbia State Community College gave an impassioned overview of the Civil War, using a slide show and shocking statistics to illustrate his explanation of the enormity of the war and its impact on the split country in which it occurred.
TENNESSEE BATTERY FIRES ON FORT SUMTER TO OPEN SESQUICENTENNIAL
A Tennessee Civil War artillery battery was on the firing line in Charleston, SC on April 12, 2011, exactly 150years from the day the Civil War started with the firing of heavy guns on Fort Sumter. B.F. White’s Battery of Tennessee Artillery was the only Tennessee artillery unit present. The Battery’s brass-barrelled 24 pound Howitzer was among 21 guns positioned at the Patriot’s Point location to commemorate the Civil War Sesquicentennial.
At Patriots Point, South Carolina
From 9 April 2011 to 12 April 2011
Tuesday 12 April 2011
The men of White’s Battery were at full strength with 17 men on the field at 4:00 AM in anxious anticipation of the day’s activities. The men let out a mighty cheer as the light at Fort Sumter split to two separate rays. As the dark of night lifted to expose the fort, the men finished preparations and at the command began an artillery assault that continued for 90 minutes firing 28 rounds. Men were swapped out to keep them fresh. The men averaged three minutes and 21 seconds per round sent down range during this time.
A cease fire was called. The men were ordered to begin firing again at 8:00 AM. In the next 15 minutes 4 rounds were sent before a cease fire was called. At 8:30 the men were ordered to begin fire again and 5 rounds were sent before a cease fire was called. A total of 9 rounds were sent during this barrage.
The men of White’s Battery considered the event a success with 47 total rounds being fired with no mishaps, misfires or injuries.
December 12, 2009
CANNONADE COMMEMORATES 146th ANNIVERSARY OF BATTLE
On December 12, 2009, BONPS invited a number of Civil War artillery companies to set up their field pieces on the lawn of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, in the shadow of Shy’s Hill. Nearly a dozen guns were present with full crews of reenactors. The rumble of guns across Green Hills was only a hint of the din of noise and smoke that accompanied the attack here at Shy’s Hill on December 16, 1864. BONPS is greatly appreciative of the St. Bartholomew’s Church and the neighbors who live on this part of the battlefield for permitting this unique rememberance of the Union and Confederate men who fought on this ground 146 years ago.
Attendees examine various types of shoulder arms during the BONPS meeting of Nov. 6, 2008 in which Jim Kay and Doug Jones presented the topic “The Battle Through Green Hills” at the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Approximately 135 people attended. The one-hour program, which was free and open to the public, covered the battlefield through present-day Green Hills and Burton Hills as well as the history of the Compton Farm.
Opportunity for Landowners and Conservation Passes Congress
On May 23, 2008, Congress passed legislation to renew the enhanced tax incentives for private landowners conserving their land through conservation easements. The legislation, included in the Farm Bill, provides farmers, historic land owners, wildlife enthusiasts, recreational sportsmen and owners of lands with a variety of other benefits for conserving our state with an opportunity that is set to expire December 31, 2009. This critical achievement would not have been possible without the hard work of The Land Trust Alliance and its coalition colleagues or without the support of Tennessee’s delegation, the majority of whom voted to renew these enhanced deductions. This is a great victory for conservation in our state. We cannot afford to miss this window—so please help spread the word.
For more information please visit The Land Trust for Tennessee’s website at http://www.landtrusttn.org/news_taxbenefits.html or contact The Land Trust at (615) 244-LAND.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Devereaux Cannon, a friend, member, and supporter of BONPS and historic preservation. He passed away suddenly on Dec. 29, 2007. Services were held Jan. 2, 2008 at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Gallatin, Tenn. Devereaux was a friend and the creator of the TaxFreeTennessee web site that was so helpful during the State Income Tax protests. He was an extraordinary father to Devereaux III and Katherine, grandfather to Devereaux IV, political activist, historian, prominent Nashville Attorney, and husband to Nora. The picture is Devereaux teaching people about the history of flags. He wrote several books on the subject.
Two Flags Atop Shy’s Hill
A record crowd attended anniversary ceremonies by the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society atop Shy’s Hill the afternoon of Dec. 16, 2007.
“Two Flags Across Tennessee,” a preservation awareness program of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, were planted on top of Shy’s Hill as the program concludes its journey across the state. The flags are reproductions of the 1861 Stars and Stripes and the 1861 First National Confederate Flag. The flags have traveled to about 40 significant battlefield sites in Tennessee.
It was at Shy’s Hill on the afternoon of Dec. 16, 1864 that Union troops broke the Confederate lines, sent Gen. John B. Hood’s troops into retreat, and produced a major victory for US Gen. George Thomas.
Work projects by BONPS to enhance the visitor’s experience at Shy’s Hill continue.
Jim and Elaine Kay of BONPS meet with Jody Powell, second from right, a Civil War Preservation Trust Board Member, and author/historian Frank O’Reilly at the Powell Farm in Maryland in September 2007. Mr. Powell served as the White House Press Secretary during the Carter Administration. CWPT is America’s largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields.
From The Tennessean
Fort Negley Visitors Center Nears Public Opening
Attending the advanced opening of the new Fort Negley Visitors Center are, left to right, BONPS President Jim Kay, museum curator, historian and author Jim Hoobler, and Mayor Bill Purcell. The fort itself opened to the public for the first time in 60 years in November 2004.
Metro Parks offered residents a sneak peak of the new Visitors Center at Fort Negley, before its official opening.
The tour offered visitors a chance to preview the 4,605-square-foot facility, which includes a small multipurpose theater, exhibit space, meeting room, staff space and outdoor plaza.
The $1 million upgrades complete phase two of the project. Metro Parks is partnering with Traveller’s Rest Plantation and Museum to create educational opportunities and programs for group tours, as well. The Fort Negley Center will feature exhibits, monthly activities, monthly events and self-guided tours.
The exhibit gallery will include touch-screen displays and other interactive elements that tell the story of Fort Negley and the Civil War in Nashville. Topics addressed will include the War in the West, Armies of Invasion, Fighting for Freedom and Occupied Nashville. To commemorate the event, outgoing mayor Bill Purcell sealed a time capsule containing items such as copies of news publications, photographs of Nashville and a list of political personnel. The items in the capsule will remain encapsulated until the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Nashville, December 2064.
BONPS loses good friend and supporter, Mr. Bob Brown
Our advisory board member, Bob Brown, died Sunday after a long fight with cancer. He loved our group and Shys Hill. We will miss him.–BONPS President James Kay
Bob Brown, a retired banker and Nashvillian, played a key role in the preservation of Tennessee wildlands and was a co-founder of the Tennessee Trails Association. He was also a lay historian with a particular interest in the Civil War and the roads of early frontier Tennessee. Mr. Brown served on the boards of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, the state chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the Metro Greenways Commission. Bob was also a major supporter of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society and the Tennessee Historical Society. He designed the new trail that now leads to the top of Shy’s Hill, one of the few remaining sites from the Battle of Nashville. A lifelong bachelor, Mr. Brown planned legacy gifts to the organizations to which he had already given so much. He will be missed by many devoted friends.
–Ann Toplovich, Executive Director, Tennessee Historical Society
Tuesday Tennessean, 05/15/07
Bob Brown was friend of nature
By ANNE PAINE
Bob Brown, remembered as a noble and gentle man who spread his interest in saving natural areas to others, died at his Nashville home Sunday night, May 13, 2007, of cancer at age 77. Brown, who never married, worked before retirement as a trust official at what
was then Third National Bank.
He became best known, however, for his quiet pursuit of protecting the state’s
hills, wildflowers and streams. He is known for that and for his dog Trouble. Trouble, who died in September of cancer, was by his side for 16 years — on hikes and in boardrooms. The pair, icons in the local conservation movement, received the “Best Friend” award last year from the Friends of Warner Parks.
“Bob Brown was one of the most noble men I’ve ever known,” said former Gov. Winfield Dunn. “He had an inquiring mind and an appreciation of nature’s gifts to all of us — in the fields and woods and flowers and natural areas. “And he shared it. He took great joy in raising the level of appreciation of other people in this wonderful gift.”
Brown co-founded the Tennessee Trails Association and helped inspire and plan the 300-mile Cumberland Trail that will stretch from the Tennessee River Gorge near Chattanooga to the Kentucky-Virginia border.
An “amateur” botanist who provided Latin names of plants with ease, Brown was honored recently by a 315-acre donation on Brady Mountain in his and a colleague’s name. It is now part of the Cumberland Trail State Park.
“He was an unbelievably good man in so many ways …,” said John Eddie Cain, a friend since first grade at Parmer School. “He was a forerunner on just about every issue you could think of that’s really worthwhile.”
Boards on which he served included those of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, the Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the Metro Greenways Commission. Tennessee Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Paul Sloan described him as “soft spoken, always courteous, always curious to learn more.”
He was a “virtual encyclopedia” of the state’s trails and historical and natural features, Sloan said. “Bob wasn’t a member of a political party,” he said. “He never wavered from just a straight, honest love for conservation and he understood how important it was and gave his whole life for it.”
Park Day volunteers enhance Shy’s Hill summit, walking trail
By Lacy Broemel
On Saturday, April 7, 2007 many dedicated preservers of Shy’s Hill turned out to clear brush and improve the trail. This important battle site, the place where the Union troops broke through the Confederate line on December 16, 1864, is being preserved by a group of Battle of Nashville enthusiasts, the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. This local group carried out “Park Day,” a national day of cleaning and restoring battlefields, in our community.
The summit of Shy’s Hill has previously been cleared, except for five large brush piles on the top. Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, a group began to clear these piles and bring them to the side of the hill, creating a screen from the neighbors. The group successfully cleared three of the piles from the summit in four hours.
While one group was clearing brush, another group was improving the trail to the summit. A visible trail has already been made, but Mr. Bob Slaydon, a pioneer in making trails, led a group in flattening and improving the trail. These workers dug out roots and made the trail easier to walk on.
Prior to this workday, two supporters, The Parke Company and Vermeer, donated equipment to help this day go more smoothly.
Shy’s Hill, a key battlefield in the Battle of Nashville, is alive and well, thanks to dedicated workers. Improving the site is no easy job, but on Saturday everyone at the site felt the importance of the job at hand. All the workers made a huge improvement on the hill, clearing brush from the top and making the trail more accessible.
Plans for Fort Negley Visitors Center proceed
Waiting for Sounds, Metro proceeds with Fort Negley
By Bill Harless,
Nashville City Paper,
March 13, 2007
Despite some fretting in the city over the future of the proposed Nashville Sounds ballpark downtown, Metro is proceeding with plans to build a visitors center for the Fort Negley park atop a portion of Greer Stadium’s parking lot.
The Sounds play at Greer Stadium and have said they hope to open their new ballpark in time for the 2009 baseball season.
Metro Parks Department spokeswoman Jackie Jones said Tuesday that construction of the $2 million, 4,500-square-foot visitors center will likely begin in early spring and said the center is scheduled to open in September.
“I think the Parks Department will compensate for any impact it has on the parking,” said Metro Finance Director David Manning when asked what Metro would do with the visitors center if the new Sounds stadium does not materialize. Manning noted that construction of the center would not affect the stadium itself in any way. “I’m sure that in a construction situation, they will provide a reasonable solution for the Sounds to the extent that there’s any kind of overlap there.”
“… It’s something that will continue even if the Sounds do stay at Greer Stadium,” said Molly Sudderth, Mayor Bill Purcell’s spokeswoman, when asked the same question.
Jones said design of the visitors center, by Buchart-Horn, Inc, is complete. Meanwhile, the construction contract for the center was awarded in November to the Powell Building Group of Goodlettsville, according to Metro. The contract calls for the building to include exhibit space, a small theater, a meeting room, public restrooms and an outdoor plaza.
Metro in 2003, under Purcell’s leadership, undertook a $2 million preservation-restoration effort to re-open Fort Negley Park, the site of what was the largest inland stone fortification built during the Civil War. The park, opening in 2004, had been closed for 60 years. It sits between Greer Stadium and the Adventure Science Center.
The Sounds and Baltimore Developer Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse have until mid-April to complete financing and design work for the new downtown ballpark and also the $200 million retail-hotel-office-residential development that would surround it, and they must submit any proposed amendments to their agreement with the city for developing the site — between the Gateway and Shelby Street bridges — to the Metro Council office by March 23.
BONPS co-hosts successful symposium on Civil War cavalry
The featured speakers for the symposium were, left to right, Eric J. Wittenburg, Brian Steel Wills, Myers Brown, and Greg Biggs.
Approximately 50 Civil War cavalry enthusiasts attended the Third Annual Civil War Symposium, Sat., March 10, 2007, at Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum, co-hosted by BONPS and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. In addition to tours of the Travellers Rest property and lively panel discussions, the four main speakers at the symposium were:
- Myers Brown, a curator at the Tennessee State Museum, who spoke on Fightin’ Joe Wheeler, one of the major cavalry leaders in the Western Theater. A diminutive man, Wheeler performed in a variety of roles associated with the Army of Tennessee. Mr. Brown was well informed on Gen. Wheeler, being the former curator of Pond Spring, the Wheeler home in northern Alabama. Wheeler, who also fought in the Spanish-American War, is the only former Confederate general buried at Arlington Naitonal Cemetery. Mr. Brown also displayed an exhibit, “Hoofbeats in the Heartland: Civil War Cavalry in Tennessee,” which is a traveling exhibition of the State Museum.
- Brian Steel Wills spoke on the exploits of famed cavalry leader Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, having written one of the best biographies of the controversial general. Professor Wills teaches history at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Forrest was a fearless warrior who personally killed 30 of the enemy but he was also satisfied with bloodless victories. He liked to win. He was also an expert at psychological warfare, a master at getting his enemies to doubt themselves. Forrest admitted defeat only once, to Gen. James H. Wilson at Selma, Ala. in April 1865, and stated that he was afraid of only one man–his brother William.
- Greg Biggs, the founder and president of the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable, spoke on the Union cavalry action at Shelbyville, Tenn. during the Tullahoma Campaign of Summer 1863. In about ten days of rainy weather and miserable mud, making full use of his cavalry, Union Gen. W.S. Rosecrans drove the Confederate Army of Tennessee from Middle Tennessee. The U.S. suffered only 569 casualties while capturing 1,600 Confederates. The first use of lightning cavalry was at Hoover’s Gap by Col. John Wilder’s mounted infantry armed with Spencer repeating rifles. Lincoln praised the campaign as one of the most successful strategic operations of the war but the campaign received little recognition, coming at the same time as Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg and involving relatively little bloodshed.
- Eric Wittenburg of Columbus, Ohio, an attorney, publisher, and author of 13 books on Civil War cavalry, talked about a variety of Civil War cavalry commanders, many of whom served poorly in the East and were transferred to the West. He noted that JEB Stuart, for all his performances, represented the cavalry of the past using Napoleanic tactics, while Gen. James H. Wilson, US cavalry leader at the Battle of Nashville, represented the future of cavalry. Bested by Forrest at Spring Hill and the Nashville retreat, Wilson led his troopers in the spring of 1865 on a highly successful cavalry raid through Alabama and Georgia, overrunning Forrest’s men at Selma and nearly capturing their leader.
BONPS Banquet guests hear Hicks speak on Widow of the South;
J.T. Thompson hands gavel to incoming president James Kay
Robert Hicks, author of the best-selling historical novel Widow of the South, autographed his book for attendees at the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society’s Annual Banquet held Feb. 8, 2007 at the Travellers Rest auditorium.
Battle of Nashville Monument Vandalized; Reward Offered for Information
The Tennessean; Tuesday, 12/12/06
Vandals deface Civil War statue
Police suspect teens did graffiti
By KEVIN WALTERS
Vandals struck the city’s Battle of Nashville statue during the weekend, splashing graffiti on three sides of its base.
The spray-painted symbols were first found on the Civil War memorial Sunday morning. Other graffiti was discovered on a concrete wall near Granny White Pike as well. The granite obelisk, which features a bronze statue depicting a young man as the “Spirit of Unity” flanked by two horses representing the North and the South, stands along Granny White Pike near Battlefield Drive.
Metro police believe the vandalism is the handiwork of local teenagers and not organized gangs, said Don Aaron, Metro police spokesman. They have no suspects. There are teens that are known to hang out in that area and at the park,” Aaron said.
Perhaps coincidentally, the defacement comes on the week marking the 142nd anniversary of the Battle of Nashville, which was fought Dec. 15-16, 1864. “I will personally offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these thugs,” said Jim Kay, president elect of the private nonprofit Battle of Nashville Preservation Society Inc.
He said he was “disgusted” by the damage to a statue that is considered among the first in the nation to commemorate the unity of the country in the wake of the Civil War. Nashville preservationists worked for years to raise money for the statue’s 1999 rededication.
The statue was created by Italian master sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, who also cast the city of Birmingham’s Vulcan statue, and was dedicated on Armistice Day, 1927. Its base and the angel atop the obelisk were replaced after a tornado destroyed them in 1974. The statue was later relocated from Franklin Road to its current site.
“It’s a monument to preserve the memory of the men who fought and died at the Battle of Nashville,” said Wes Shofner, a Battle of Nashville Preservation Society board member. “The entire city should be incensed.” Spray-painted graffiti has previously been removed from the statue, which is owned by the state Historical Commission, said Richard Tune, acting executive director.
Battle at Barricade Program Attracts Overflow Crowd
BONPS Vice-President Jim Kay presented a program on The Battle at the Barricade at the October 19th BONPS meeting at Richland Country Club which attracted a large crowd of 125 attendees. The battle occurred Dec. 16, 1864 on Granny White Pike near the present-day site of Richland C.C. between Union and Confederate cavalry forces. The delaying action by Col. Rucker’s men quite possibly saved Gen. John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee from complete destruction.
Mr. Kay also discussed the early history of the area around Granny White Pike and the adventures of Lucinda “Lucy” White, the brave pioneer woman who operated a traveler’s inn on the site and for whom the pike is named.
Donelson 2012 Review
The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reviews the Battle of Fort Donelson with Sesquicentennial story and photo essay. Click here.
The Fall of Fort Donelson
“You cannot overstate the advantage the Union gained with the capture of Nashville,” said James Jobe, Park Historian at Fort Donelson National Battlefield.
And the Confederate defeat at Fort Donelson in February 1862, along with the fall of Forts Heiman and Henry, led directly to the surrender of Tennessee’s capital city.
The Federal authorities then used Nashville as the major supply center in the Western Theater, supporting invasions against Chattanooga in 1863 and Atlanta in 1864. Jobe spoke to the BONPS membership and public January 15th at historic Belmont Mansion in the first of many special events planned this year, the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Nashville.
At the beginning of the war, Tennessee faced the daunting task of defending its lengthy east-west border. The Confederacy placed more emphasis on holding and defending Bowling Green, Ky. and the Mississippi River than it did in defending the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.
The first fort to fall was Fort Henry on the east bank of the Tennessee River, just south of the Kentucky border. The fort had been poorly situated, and was partially flooded when the Union gunboats approached on Feb. 6 and opened fire at nearly point-blank range. By the time the Union army arrived at the scene, Fort Henry had been captured, along with its commander.
The Confederates had built a fort on the west bank of the Tennessee River called Fort Heiman, directly across from Fort Henry, but apparently no big guns had been positioned there and the fort served little use.
Men fleeing from Fort Henry, along with reinforcements, had swelled the Confederate forces at nearby Fort Donelson from 3,000 to approximately 15,000 men.
On Feb. 14th, Valentine’s Day, the Union gunboat flotilla, now on the Cumberland River, approached to within 400 yards of Fort Donelson’s river batteries. Flag-Officer Andrew Foote believed that victory would come as easily as at Fort Henry. He was wrong. The Confederate gunners, firing from a lofty elevation, severely damaged many of the gunboats, which were forced to withdraw.
The next day, however, a breakdown in the Confederate high command led to the failure of an attempt to break out of the encircling Union forces, which now numbered about 27,000 men. A little-known Confederate colonel, Nathan Bedford Forrest, did manage to escape and lead his men to Nashville.
Gens. Floyd and Pillow fled the scene, and it was left to Gen. Simon B. Buckner to surrender Fort Donelson to Gen. U.S. Grant, who demanded “unconditional surrender.”
Grant was promoted to a two-star general and became a hero in the North. Thousands of Confederate soldiers became prisoners of war and were transported by river to Northern POW camps. Later in the year, most were “paroled” in exchange for Union prisoners.
The fall of Fort Donelson threw Nashville officials and citizens into a panic, fearing the destruction of the Union ironclad gunboats. Fort Zollicoffer, located west of Nashville on the Cumberland River, was abandoned and did not contest the gunboats. Within ten days, Union troops entered the city and held it for the remainder of the war.
The river batteries at Fort Donelson National Battlefield (931-232-5706), and many of the large cannons, can be seen today by visitors to the park, located near Dover, Tenn. The location of Fort Henry now lies beneath the waters of Kentucky Lake (Tennessee River).