Continuing on with the road trip that I took from Boston to Nashville, and back, this month for a conference! Starting from the beginning…..
I arrived in Nashville on a beautifully sunny morning, still with the blue sky above. Since the weather was so lovely, and since I was already mobile, I decided to make the most of the opportunity and “do something”, rather than just check into the hotel at 1pm.
So I headed off to Fort Negley Park. The remains of the fort are located a couple of miles south of downtown. This was the biggest inland fort built by the Union during the Civil War – it covered 4 acres of land, and was 600 feet long by 300 feet wide.
It was named after US General James Scott Negley, the provost marshal and commander of Federal forces in Nashville.
This is where the Union Army captured Nashville in 1862, and the fort made the town the 2nd most fortified in the US – second only to Washington DC. They used a series of forts to circle the city, with Fort Negley being the largest. Quite early on during the war, the Union Army decided that capturing the town was going to be critical to their success, so they set to it and didn’t waste any time fortifying the city.
Apparently about 2,700 African-American men were used as laborers to build Fort Negley over a period of about three months, yet only about 300 of them were ever paid. Strangely though, the fort itself was never actually directly attacked during the Battle of Nashville, in which over 9,000 were killed.
Although Fort Negley was abandoned by the military after the war, it remained the cornerstone of one of the town’s oldest African-American communities.
Over the recent years, the crumbling fort has been somewhat rebuilt, and is now a public park, with a visitor center at the entrance where you can get all the scoop on its history.
Its location is wonderful too – right at the top of the hill, not surprisingly. You get to see great views across into Nashville to the north. An amazing place for any history buff to visit.
But also just a lovely location in general to head for a walk, even if Civil War history isn’t your gig.
I was really glad I decided not to just check into the hotel early – it was a great spot to spend an hour or so, and soak up the history, as well as the sunshine.