During the fall and winter of
1862, the Union army built Fort Negley to defend Nashville against
Confederate army attacks.
In February 25, 1862, after the CSA Army of the
Tennessee retreated from the recent defeat at Fort Donelson, the
Union army occupied Nashville. In March of 1862, President Lincoln
appointed a Tennessean, U. S. Senator Andrew Johnson, to serve as
military governor. Johnson implored federal officials to fortify the
town. The commanding General ordered the post commander, General
James S. Negley, to use the post's 6,000 soldiers to construct
fortifications for Nashville. General Negley employed Captain
James S. Morton, an army engineer, to
design and build a large fort to protect the south roads and railroad
approaches to Nashville. Because the Confederate armies still roamed
parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, Morton received orders to move with
all deliberate speed. On November 5, some Confederate cavalry
attempted to invade the city's eastern suburbs. The Federal military
drove the Confederates off and inflicted 68 enemy casualties. More
federal troops arrived to garrison the town and rebuild bridges. The
Union Army completed Fort Negley on December 7, 1862.
Fort Negley became the largest Union fort
west of Washington, D. C. The topmost structure consisted of
twelve-foot timbers, a stockade to hold horses and soldiers'
quarters. Rounded wooden rifle turrets rested on top of each corner
of the stockade. The artillery rested on carriages and smooth plank-flooring
on the parapet (flat, platform-like area) surrounding the outside of
the stockade. Three-foot ramparts (nine-foot-thick embankments of
earth walled with stone) protected the flat artillery area. Projected
redans protected the ramparts on the east and the west sides of the
stockade. Scarps (steep slopes) and glacis (a smooth, gentle slope)
rested below the east and west ramparts and parapets. Two groups of
four blockhouses (bomb shelters topped with railroad iron, railroad
timbers, and dirt) protected the bottom of these hills on the left
and the right sides of the fort's south section. A salient system
projected out to protect the bastioned blockhouses. Above the bastion
was a stone scarp to protect the first two blockhouses, a passage
connecting the two parallel blockhouses, another stone scarp rising
above the passage, and the other two blockhouses rising above the
scarp with a protected passage between these blockhouses.
Morton placed the fort's entrance on the
north side with a gentle slope overlooking the city two miles beyond.
The fort also had a sharp salient, a gateway, a timber guardhouse,
and a loop-holed bomb shelter flanking the gate. Fort Negley, a
polygonal copy of an old European design consumed 62,500 cubic feet
of stone and 18,000 cubic yards of dirt; occupied 600 by 300 feet and
51 acres of St. Cloud Hill; rested some 620 feet above sea level.
The Union army abandoned Fort Negley soon
after 1867. In 1975, the fort was listed in the National Register of
Historic Places. It is presently in the first stages of restoration.
Taken from an article written by Bobby L. Lovett
Transcribed by John H. Ross, December 1999 (Pvt. Absalom Ross was
stationed at Fort Negley during the winter of 1864-65)