The Battle For Nashville December, 1864
By Betsy Thorpe
Shortly after eight o’clock on the morning of December 15, 1864 siege guns at Nashville’s Union battery, Fort Negley, opened fire against Confederate lines.
For two days the battle for Nashville raged resulting in thousands of casualties on both sides and a decisive victory for the Union.
The United States Colored Troop Thirteen stationed at Fort Negley played a major role throughout the battle.
On December 13th 2008, events surrounding the Battle For Nashville was commemorated at Fort Negely, the sole remaining Civil War fort in Nashville. Re-enactors of the United States Colored Troop Thirteen, Company A, camped below the fort.
Kara Lee Briggs from the Civil War Round Table presented a lecture on “Shortages on the Confederate Home Front”, relating the ingenuity employed by Southern women to combat the lack of necessities endured as a result of the Northern blockade.
Fort Negley is located at 511 Chestnut near Greer Stadium and The Cumberland Science Museum. The fort is operated by Metro Parks Department and is open to the public.
Adriana: “Who invented the name United States Colored Troop”?
Soldier:“Before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation black men could not be soldiers. Following the proclamation granting freedom to southern slaves, many freedmen wanted to serve their country, so the United States Army established the U.S.C.T. for “colored” men.”
Adriana:“Who was the leader of the U.S. Colored Troops?”
Soldier:“In the beginning it was President Abraham Lincoln, then other presidents. The President of the United States is always the Commander In Chief to all troops.”
Adriana:“How did the soldiers get to Nashville before the
Soldier:“Many of the soldier’s were “conscripted” or taken from their owners by the Army while they were still slaves, to work for the army building fortifications and railroads. Some slaves ran away and volunteered to work for the army. After slaves were freed, men from all over Tennessee came to Fort Negley to join Troop Thirteen.”
Adriana:Where were the soldiers family at during the war?
Soldier“Many of the soldiers never saw their families again after they were taken by the army or after the ran away. But some of them ran away with their families or brought them with them after they were all freed. Some of those former slaves lived in Nashville, many of them near the fort and they developed one of Nashville’s first colored (or black) neighborhoods there.”
Adriana:“What happened to Troop Thirteen after the war ended?”
Soldier“Following the Battle For Nashville Troop Thirteen was sent to St. Louis Missouri, after the end of the war the troop was disbanded and some of it’s members joined the Buffalo Soldiers and fought out west.”
Colored Troop Re-enactor, Winston Wiley, asked if he could sense the presence of the enslaved men who helped build Fort Negley and the colored soldiers who fought there, Mr. Wiley said, “all the time”.
Looking toward Peach Orchard Hill from Fort Negley. On the second day of the Battle for Nashville Troop Thirteen lost more than two hundred men advancing the hill. “They came only to die” wrote one Union officer after the battle. U.S.C.T. Thirteen recieved a citiation for bravery, following the battle.
Troop Thirteen re-enactors gather at the encampment site