Nashville’s Fort Negley: Heritage That Needs Protecting

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Much of the recent debate on Civil War commemorative sites has been dominated on providing the Confederate aspect of history. In the last decade, the State Legislature enacted the Heritage and Protection Act (2016), which specifies that a 2/3 majority vote of the TN. Historical Commission is needed prior to moving or altering, "Any statue, monument, memorial, bust, nameplate, plaque, artwork, flag, historic display, school, street, bridge, or building that has been erected for, named, or dedicated on public property in honor of any historic conflict, historic entity, historic event, historic figure, or historic organization.

" This is the same law that has protected statues, monuments and busts from Memphis to Chattanooga. One glaring exemption is Nashville's Fort Negley, which has not been afforded such protections. The fort was erected on the backs of more than 2700 conscripted slaves and black laborers, many of whom had recently been freed. Hundreds of these workers would not live to see the completion of the fort and are now entombed there, while only a few hundred were ever paid for this tedious work. Historians and preservationist further believe an untold number of Native Americans are also buried in the vicinity considering the area was once an ancestral burial site. It was largest inland fortification built during the War, and after more than seven decades of neglect reopened to the public in 2004. It was the scene of one of the most pivotal battles in which USCT fought as they opposed the last remnants of Hood's Army of Tennessee. After witnessing their bravery and courage during the battle, General George Thomas turned to aides and said, "The question is settled, Negro soldiers will fight." Oddly enough, Chattanooga's 44th USCT which was present at the Battle of Nashville had fought gallantly at Dalton months earlier where many were massacred after being forced to surrender. Additionally, USCT had served with distinction at such infamous places such as Ft. Pillow and Ft. Wagner.

For the last several years, the City of Nashville has been engaged in discussions with private developers, one being the Cloud Hill Partnership, who are planning mixed-use development in the area. Work has stalled for two reasons, one, an archeological assessment in order to determine the location of graves on the site, and two, the Friends of Ft. Negley have filed suit under provisions of the Heritage and Protection Act (2016).  The Friends of Ft. Negley, began in 2007, has presented a park friendly alternative plan, which lays out four key objectives: (1) Saving Our Parks; (2) Preserving History; (3) Fixing Government Process; (4) Finding the Graves. They have also applied for global recognition with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Slave Route sites program, and are seeking official recognition as an NPS Underground Railroad site. Preservation of Ft. Negley has been endorsed by respected groups, organizations and individuals such as: the TN. Association of Museums; the TN. Civil War Preservation Association; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Civil War Trust, Friends of Aaittafama; Walker Collaborative; Equal Justice Initiative; NAACP; Metro Historical Commission, noted historians and preservationist groups have called for the full protection and preservation of Ft. Negley. While many historians and preservationist did not agree with the original intent of the Heritage and Protection Act because they believed the authority granted to the TN. Historical Commission far exceeded its original mission and mandate, they have asked if it must be on the books, why not start with the saving and preserving of Ft. Negley?

Respectfully, Eric Atkins

For more on this topic you may visit Friends of Ft. Negley at: https://savenashvilleparks.org/ or via facebook at https://www.facebook.com/The-Friends-Of-Fort-Negley-867463819957717/



Problems With The Key Staff Findings On The Landfill

Concerning the proposed C&D Landfill in Harrison, on Sept. 11, the staff of the Chattanooga Hamilton-County Regional Planning Agency made a presentation to the Planning Commission for the rezoning request.  Mr. Schultz for the staff made the following statements which were titled "Staff Key Findings."  I would like to contend with their findings.  1. "Proposal ... (click for more)

Numerous Reasons To Vote No On The Proposed Landfill

My name is Andy Mullins and I’m speaking up for two reasons today.  #1 - I’m currently building a new home in the Morning Glory Farms subdivision, less than 3,000 feet from the proposed landfill.  #2 - I’m chairman of the Hamilton County Health & Safety Board.  I am not here representing the Board but am here representing the people of District 9 whom I ... (click for more)

State Comptroller Says More Control Over Spending Needed At CVB

The state Comptroller’s Office is recommending the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) board of directors take steps to adopt detailed policies concerning how the CVB spends its money.   The Comptroller’s Office has completed a review of Hamilton County’s hotel/motel taxes which are all forwarded to the CVB. The annual report is required by Public Chapter ... (click for more)

County Commission Votes 7-2 For Rezoning For C&D Landfill At Harrison

The County Commission on Wednesday voted 7-2 to approve rezoning for a Construction and Debris landfill at Harrison.  Voting in favor were Greg Beck, Warren Mackey, Sabrena Smedley, Greg Martin, Tim Boyd, Randy Fairbanks and Jim Fields.   Opposed were Chester Bankston and Joe Graham.  Commissioner Boyd said it was just the first step in permitting for ... (click for more)

Lady Canes Knocked To State Volleyball Loser's Bracket By Portland

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – East Hamilton, a relative green horn when it comes to volleyball’s biggest stage, saved its best effort of the season for Tuesday’s opening match of the 2017 state tournament against Sullivan South. Facing a five-time and defending champion from Kingsport, Tennessee, East Hamilton notched an impressive 3-0 sweep by scores of 25-22, 25-14 and 25-17. ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Father Ryan Again To Advance At State

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The third time was not the charm for Father Ryan here at MTSU’s Murphy Center Tuesday afternoon. Facing the Baylor Lady Red Raiders in the opening round of the TSSAA D-II Class AA state volleyball tournament, the defending state runner-up Baylor squad defeated their Nashville rivals in three straight sets, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23. ... (click for more)