Every city has wonderful historical Civil War era tales waiting to be told. Nashville is no different. With this being the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War, it seems only fitting to tell a tale from the Civil War era. Tennessee seceded from the Union shortly after Abraham Lincoln took office as President of the United States. Most people think of the Battle of Shiloh when speaking of Tennessee and the Civil War however the war encompassed the entire state. In 1862 approximately 150 miles north-west of Shiloh, Nashville herself fell to Union forces.
Nashville was then transformed into the most fortified city, second only to Washington DC itself. Forts encircled the city. The largest fort was known as Fort Negley. It was named after US General James Scott Negley and located high upon a hill south of the downtown area.
It took three months to construct Fort Negley in 1862. The architecture of the fort resembles many European forts. It is 600 feet long and half that wide. The Fort encompasses four acres. The stockade stands at 12 feet tall.
It is believed, according to the National Park Service, that the first shots in the Battle of Nashville were fired from Fort Negley. The Battle of Nashville was 15-16 December 1864.
The Fort contained a stockade, an east and west ravelin, two casements, the south main work, the north main work, the east and the west outer parapets, the southwest and the southeast bastions, the bastion tunnels, and of course the main entrance.
Who was General James Scott Negley?
General Negley was the provost marshal and commander of the Union forces in Nashville. Prior to the Civil War, Negley was a farmer. He was born 26 December 1826 in Pittsburgh to John and Barbara Anne Negley. He attended college at what is now the University of Pittsburgh. After college he served in the Mexican –American War.
He was appointed brigadier general at the start of the Civil War in 1861 and eventually made his way south, leading a raid against Chattanooga. His men did not fare so well at the Battle of Chickamauga and afterwards he was relieved of command. He was cleared however despite the loss. In 1862 the massive inland fort was named for him although his failure to perform admirably at the Battle of Chickamauga nearly cost him this honor.
After the war, Negley entered politics and became a US Representative from Pennsylvania until his retirement in 1887. He then became involved in railroading. He died in New Jersey in 1901.
Fort Negley Visitor Center:
Local history buffs and Civil War enthusiasts are encouraged to visit Fort Negley. The Fort Negley Visitor Center opened its doors in 2007 and is located at 1100 Fort Negley Blvd. While there you can search the national Soldier and Sailor System (CWSS) database. The CWSS contains information on both Union and Confederate soldiers, regiments, prisoners and battles.
Fort Negley Park Hours:
During winter (September – May) the park is open Tuesday-Friday: Noon - 4 p.m. and Saturday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. During the summer (June - August), the park is open Tuesday-Thursday: Noon - 4 p.m. and Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. It is also always open by appointment as well. In addition Fort Negley Park is open daily dawn to dusk for self-guided walking tours.
For more information, visit the Battle of Nashville at http://www.bonps.org/. To search for your Civil War ancestors through the Soldiers and Sailors Database, visit http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm.
ABOUT JEANNE RUCZHAK-ECKMAN
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman began writing in 1985, with her work appearing in several local newspapers. From 2003-2009, she spearheaded an online newspaper company, which had two newspapers, the PA Farm News and SolancoNews.com. The latter covered everything from hometown heroes and new businesses to the Nickel Mines Shooting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Lock Haven University, and was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009. Her interests include learning more about diabetes and how to deal with it, genealogy, history/travel, gaming and Orthodoxy. You may contact Jeanne with your comments and questions.