Our August Meeting!

August 17th, 2009 – Our 5th Meeting

The next meeting of the Nashville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Monday, August 17th, 2009, in the visitor’s center of Ft. Negley Park, a unit of Metro Parks, Nashville, TN. This is located off I-65 just south of downtown between 4th Avenue South and 8th Avenue South on Edgehill Avenue/Chestnut Avenue. Take Exit 81, Wedgewood Avenue, off I-65 and follow the signs to the Science Museum. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM and is always open to the public. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.


“Ft. Negley – History, Engineering and Archaeology”

(Drawing from the BONPS web site with thanks)

Fred Prouty of the Tennessee Wars Commission will present a program on Ft. Negley that will differ from what Walter Durham gave us a couple months ago. While offering some history of the fort, Mr. Prouty will place it in context with the rest of Nashville’s fortifications and detail how special the site is – the largest inland masonry fort built in the Civil War. Ft. Negley is a prime example of military engineering created in 18th Century France by Vauban. Using slides, the presentation will cover its history with documentation, the results of several archaeology examinations and how it was restored by the WPA in the 1930’s. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Ft. Negley is now a unit of Nashville’s Metro Parks and is open for tours thanks to the efforts of many preservationists and their dedication.

Fred Prouty is the Military Sites Preservationist and Director of Programs for the Tennessee Wars Commission. This was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1994 and is an adjunct to the Tennessee Historical Commission. Mr. Prouty handles Tennessee’s military history sites from the mid-1700’s through the Civil War. He has written several articles for state archaeological publications and has been a consultant for the History Channel. He is also an expert on 18th and 19th Century military equipage and fortifications and belongs to the National Civil War Fortification Study Group. He also serves on the boards of the Tennessee Civil War Heritage Trail, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association.

Please join us as Fred Prouty provides a different look at Nashville’s historic Ft. Negley!

In July, Dr. Earl Hess of Lincoln Memorial University in East Tennessee presented a fine program on the “Myth of the Rifle Musket” which was based on his recent book. Dr. Hess challenged the common belief that the Civil War was so bloody due to these weapons overwhelming then current infantry tactics, but his evidence proved that wars before the Civil War, especially the Napoleonic Wars, were as bloody or even bloodier and were fought with smooth bore weapons. Facts like the parabolic curve which rifled Minie rounds flew after leaving the barrels compared to the flat trajectory of the smooth bore rounds (which fired deadly Buck & Ball rounds), left common Civil War soldiers befuddled as they were not trained to use range estimation and sight adjustments to overcome the curve. This curve was known before the war thanks to tests conducted by several nations but was ignored by commanders of Union and Confederate armies despite the writings of future CS general Cadmus Wilcox on the subject. What Dr. Hess’ research has found was that these weapons in the hands of specialist troops like sharp shooter companies and battalions, could, in fact, be battlefield dominators but it was their training, which was not given to the vast majority of the volunteer regiments that allowed for this. The presentation set the stage for a lively discussion between the membership and speaker that went on for some time.

We look forward to having Dr. Hess return to the Nashville Civil War Roundtable.

We would also like to note that Vice President Gary Burke did a fine job running the meeting in the absence of President Krista Castillo. Besides being a nice guy we all learned that Gary is a fine poet as well. Thanks Gary for being part of us!

FUTURE PROGRAMS (please check our new web site for other events):

September, 2009 – Russell Bonds, author/historian, Atlanta CWRT – “Stealing The General: The Great Locomotive Chase” (tentative)
October, 2009 – Myers Brown, Tennessee State Museum, “Tennessee’s Union Troops” (based on his new book)
November, 2009 – Greg Biggs, author/historian – “The Atlanta Campaign, Part 1 – Dalton to Kennesaw”
December, 2009 – Glenn LaFantasie, Western Kentucky University, author/historian – Col. William C. Oates, 15th Alabama Infantry (based on his book)
January, 2010 – Thomas Cartwright, historian/author – “The Battle of Thompson’s Station”
February, 2010 – Kent Wright, Tennessee Valley CWRT – “The Union Navy On The Western Waters”
March, 2010 – Thomas Flagel, historian and author
April, 2010 – TBA
May, 2010 – Greg Biggs, author/historian – “The Atlanta Campaign, Part 2 – “The River Line To Jonesboro”


As decided by the membership, the annual dues structure for the Nashville CWRT is as follows:

Single membership – $20
Family – $30
Military – Active duty and Veterans – $15
Military Family – Active duty and Veterans – $25
Student – $10
Senior (age 60 plus) – $15
Senior couple – $20

Thanks to all of you who have paid their dues. When your dues are paid your name badge will be available at the following meeting. Our dues go to paying for speakers as well as donations for Civil War preservation causes especially those of a local nature. Please be sure to pay your dues so we can offer the best programs possible for you!

We also utilize donated items for silent auctions each month to help add to the treasury. If you have something you would like to donate for these auctions, please bring them to the meetings. Books, art, or anything Civil War, works very well. Thanks very much to all of you who have made such donations!

Davis Bridge Battle Field soon to be a Tennessee Civil War park

Our August speaker Fred Prouty can tell us more about this, but it seems that acreage has been purchased to create the Davis Bridge Battlefield Park. Located near Pocahontas, TN
just above the Mississippi state line and northwest of Corinth, MS, this field was the site of the October 5, 1862 battle where the Federals tried to block the retreat of Gen. Earl Van
Dorn’s Army of the West after their repulse the day before at Corinth. The Civil War Preservation Trust is involved as is the American Battlefield Protection Program and the
Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust. Most of the field is already paid for at the CWPT is seeking donations for the remaining $167,000. The old Pocahontas School House will
be rehabilitated as the visitor’s center and museum which will tie into the national park at Corinth. Nearly 900 acres will be preserved. CWPT is now taking donations.

Carnton Plantation Opens New Visitors Center – Franklin, TN (From the Civil War Preservation Trust email)

By Kevin Walters, Nashville Tennessean (TN)

Today, visitors to Carnton Plantation will get their first glimpse inside a long planned project to bring modern amenities to a site with ties to Franklin’s Civil War past. The new, $1.2 million Fleming Center opens its doors for a soft opening Wednesday that Carnton supporters have been hoping would come for years. At 7,000 square feet, the new visitors center offers ample event and exhibit space, as well as new restrooms, water fountains and office space for staff. The center will replace the doublewide trailer used at the site for years.

The upgrade will improve visitors’ trips to the museum and will mean more guests can use Carnton for events like weddings and receptions, said Margie Thessin, plantation interim executive director. “For us, events are fund-raising,” Thessin said. “We really hope that people like to come out and take a look.” During the Battle of Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864, the plantation’s main house was used as a hospital. It is adjacent to the McGavock Confederate Cemetery, the largest privately held Confederate cemetery.

The center, which sits behind where the trailer is located, is named after Sam Fleming, a Franklin native and Middle Tennessee banker who was a lifelong supporter of the museum. His widow, Valerie Fleming, raised money to build the center and name it after her husband. An official dedication ceremony will take place Sept. 12. Exhibits planned for the center include a new Battle of Franklin exhibit that will feature relics from the battle, including presentation swords and other artifacts. In September, the center will host an exhibit focusing on Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, who was defeated at the Battle of Franklin.

The center will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sundays, the center will be open from 1 to 5 p.m.

Civil War Museum of Philadelphia Has No Home (From the CWPT email and the Philadelphia Enquirer)

The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia has an important story to tell, but no place to tell it. The museum closed its cramped quarters in Center City last August, with plans to move into a new home near Independence National Historical Park. But since then, Gov. Rendell has rescinded a promised capital grant that would pay for renovation of the new home. The loss of funding prompted the National Park Service to withdraw its offer of a historic building at Third and Chestnut Streets. The museum may be forced to leave Philadelphia. “We’re really at a crisis point right now,” said Sharon Smith, the museum’s president and CEO.

The museum’s 3,000 artifacts are still in storage – letters from soldiers to their wives; a smoking jacket that belonged to Confederate President Jefferson Davis; a tree trunk studded with metal shell fragments from the Battle of Gettysburg; a Tiffany sword given to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant after he captured Vicksburg; and what is believed to be Robert E. Lee’s copy of the terms of surrender at Appomattox. It’s a collection that should be on display in Philadelphia, which played a key role in the emergence of African Americans from slavery to full citizenship. The city was the home of the first free community of blacks in the nation, a hub in the Underground Railroad, and an important stage for abolitionists.

Nine years ago, public officials felt the museum was so important to the city that they went to court to block its planned move to Richmond, Va. Among those who prevented the museum from leaving was the Republican state attorney general, Mike Fisher. That effort to save the collection resulted in former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo and Rep. James Roebuck (D., Phila.) securing $15 million in capital funding for the museum. In 2007, Rendell told museum officials he would release $8 million to $10 million of the capital grant.

But the governor later reneged. A spokesman for the governor said there are limited funds for capital projects and that “specific Philadelphia projects would be identified by the city.” The state has a budget crisis, but funding for capital projects does not come out of the general operating fund. And the bond money for this project was designated years ago. The museum would have an economic impact, drawing as many as 900,000 new visitors annually. Officials have raised more than $1 million in private pledges but say they need the grant money to leverage more donations.

The state should follow through with its commitment and help the museum find a new home in Philadelphia.


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