Battle of Nashville / Civil War Sites
Battle of Nashville Preservation Society
Belle Meade Plantation
(Confederate Gen. Chalmers' HQ)
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Belle Meade Carriage House

Belle Meade Carriage House.

Seeing It:
Belle Meade Plantation
5025 Harding Rd., Nashville, TN 37205
Call (615) 356-0501 or (800) 270-3991

Location Maps.

Property of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities

Admission fee charged.

Open Mon.-Sat., 9-5;
Sun., 11-5. Last tour at 4 p.m.
Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days.

Belle Meade Plantation hosts a Victorian Christmas celebration in December.

Directions: From I-440, take 70S exit and drive 4 miles to entrance sign on the left.

Website: www.bellemeadeplantation.com

The Queen of Tennessee Plantations:
Belle Meade in southwest Davidson County is known as the “Queen of Tennessee Plantations.” In the 1800s the 5,400-acre estate was a world-renown thoroughbred horse nursery and stud farm. It was the home to Iroquois, the first American-bred horse to win the English Derby.

Today, the National Historic Place covers 30 acres and includes the Greek Revival mansion, the huge carriage house and stables, the smokehouse, garden house, creamery, and the original 1790 log cabin.

Tours are conducted by docents in period costume. The Visitors Center features a large gift shop.

History:

In 1807, Virginian John Harding bought 250 acres and a log cabin known as Dunham Station, a trading post on the Natchez Trace. Several years later the farm gained reputation as a stud farm when the famed horse Imp. Boaster stood as stud there. The original house was probably begun in the 1820s.

In 1853 John Harding’s son, William Giles Harding, completed the Greek Revival mansion, doubling its size and adding the front porch and columns, which are solid limestone.

Harding was very wealthy and very pro-secession and donated $500,000 to the Southern cause. When the Federals occupied Nashville in February 1862, Harding was arrested and sent north to Fort Mackinac in Michigan to be imprisoned. His wife, Elizabeth I. McGavock, was left to tend their farm in his absence. In September, Harding was released on parole and returned to Belle Meade.

Belle Meade was headquarters to Confederate Gen. James R. Chalmers of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry command prior to the Battle of Nashville in December 1864.

On the first day of the battle, Union soldiers burned the Rebel wagons parked at the racetrack while Chalmers was elsewhere. Returning to Belle Meade, Chalmers’ men charged the Yankees and drove them back before running into an enemy infantry camp. The Yankees fired as the cavalry galloped back past the mansion, where Selene Harding, 19, waved a handerchief despite the bullets flying around her. Bullet holes can still be seen in the porch columns.

After the war, William Harding turned over control of the farm to his son-in-law, William Jackson, a West Point graduate who had commanded a cavalry division under Gen. S.D. Lee in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Under Jackson’s tutelage, Belle Meade (French for “beautiful meadow”) became an internationally renown thoroughbred farm and showplace. The farm sold breeding stock of ponies, Alderney cattle, Cotswold sheep, and Cashmere goats. The vast estate also featured a 600-acre deer park.

At its sale in 1904, Belle Meade was the oldest and largest thoroughbred farm in the nation.

Belle Meade Plantation remained a private residence until 1953, when it was sold to the state. The historical site is now maintained by the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities.

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