FORT NEGLEY
 
Defenses of Nashville, Official Records, Fort Negley
 

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF FORTIFICATIONS,
MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., May 15, 1865.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS,
Comdg. Mil. Div. of the Miss. West of Alleghany Mountains:
I have the honor to submit the following inspection report of the Defenses of Nashville:

DEFENSES OF NASHVILLE.
Nashville was first occupied by the U.S. army in March, 1862. General Morton, then captain, U.S. Corps of Engineers, commenced fortifying the position soon after its occupation. His plan was to hold Morton and Houston Hills and that on which Fort Negley stands by three large works controlling Casino Hill by a block-house and the fire of the two forts in rear. He also built defenses around the capitol, which is situated on a high hill within the city. It is presumed that these works were to be connected by an intrenched line when the necessity should arise.

Forts Morton and Houston were designed as very large works, the double bastions of Choumara with a demilune, and were to be built in a permanent manner, with detached stone scarps. I have been informed that he expected these works to hold out after the city had been taken, and therefore devised them with interior capacity for the defensive materials and provisions for resisting a siege in the event the lines around the city could not be maintained. The magnitude of these works prevented the carrying out of his views. They would have required more labor than building all the necessary redoubts to completely inclose the city.

Fort Negley(now called Fort Harker)
This large work was nearly completed by General Morton, assisted by Captain Burroughs, Corps of Engineers. It is a complex fort. Within stands a square stockade twelve feet high, with flanking projections on each face. It is surrounded by a redoubt essentially square, with redan projections on the east and west sides.

Its parapets are heavy, and the scarps were walled with dry stone, over which, however, the earth of the embankment falls, so as to give a continuous slope.

On the south are two bastions, the flanks of which join to the south face of the main work, as a curtain, thus forming a bastion front. Each bastion has two interior intrenchments rising in stages, which are themselves small bastion fronts, the bastions being small bombproofs loop-holed, flanking the interior ditch, and with infantry and artillery fire to the exterior. These small bomb-proofs are surrounded nearly to the height of the loop-holes by a parapet with low, dry stone scarps.

Immediately below the main parapet to the east and west, are outer parapets about nine feet thick, apparently for infantry, with sharp salients and dry stone scarps. They connect on the north side with the main work and on the south with the bastion front.

Near the entrance in one of the salients is a bomb-proof, loopholed, which flanks the gateway front, serves as a guard.house, and as a keep to the east star-shaped outwork. The main work connects with each of the outworks by two open passages without gates, wide enough for artillery. Within this work are two casemates of timber, covered on the slope toward the enemy with railroad iron and made bomb-proof with earth. The other guns, four in number, are en barbette. No embrasures were prepared either in the upper or lower parapets.

A strong work against assault, its power to resist siege is weakened by uncovered dry stone walls and exposed wood-work. In some measure it throws away the advantages of a simple earthen redoubt in an effort to gain security against coup de main. It is, however, a very imposing fort, and its appearance alone would keep an enemy at a good distance.

Its offensive power would be much increased by excavating the interior of the east outwork and placing guns there in embrasure. The terre-plein of the western outwork is sufficiently low; guns could be placed in embrasure there also, as well as in the main work.

If Casino Hill were strongly held, Fort Negley could only be attacked from much lower ground than its own site, and the emplacements for the attacking batteries would be distant. The hill slope is too rocky for the construction of trenches. Nothing has been done to this work under my direction further than the arrangement of the lower parapets on the western front for placing two guns in embrasure. The accompanying drawing explains this complex work.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Z. B. TOWER,
Brig. Gen. and Insp. Gen. of Fortifications, Mil. Div. of the Miss.

From The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I-Vol. XLIX, Part II-Correspondence, Etc., Page 775

 
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