November meeting notice and Newsletter

Nashville Civil War Roundtable

Founded April, 2009 – Nashville, Tennessee

November 21st, 2017 – Our 104th meeting!!  We continue our seventh year.  We now meet on the THIRD TUESDAY of each month!


The next meeting of the Nashville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on TUESDAY, November 21st, 2017, 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.


Our Speaker and Topic  – “Kansas Burning: The Civil War On The Kansas Border: 1854-1863”


“I stepped out on the porch on the south side of my kitchen, and was standing there for a

moment, when I heard, first, two or three scattering shots, followed immediately by a dozen or

more in quick succession… The shots were accompanied by cheers, or rather yells. In a few

moments, as I stood looking, some three or four negroes from the camp, which was some forty

rods from where I stood, came rushing by, hallooing, “The secesh have come!” As I looked, the

head of the column of fiends rushed down the street… full in my view, and commenced shooting

down the boys in camp near by. There were twenty-five boys there at the time, of whom they shot

down and killed nineteen. .. I estimated there were some two hundred of the devils. “


(From Erastus Ladd’s description of the massacre at Lawrence, Kansas.)


Kansas and the north-western counties of Missouri had been rent by violence since 1854, when

the U. S. Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This act implemented the concept of

‘popular sovereignty,’ by which the settlers in a federal territory would decide for themselves

whether the territory would enter the Union as a free or slave state. In the case of Kansas, the

result was violence between ‘free-soil’ (anti-black and slave holder immigration) and pro-slavery

settlers. Many Missourians crossed the border into Kansas to support an extension of slavery.

New England and the Great Lakes State abolitionist societies actively recruited anti-slavery

settlers to immigrate to Kansas and oppose any expansion of slavery into the territory. Between

1854 and 1861, the citizens ‘Bleeding Kansas’ endured small-scale but open warfare between

militant free-soilers known as ‘Jayhawkers’ and militant pro-slavers known as ‘Border Ruffians’

or ‘Bushwhackers.’


When eleven southern states seceded from the Union, Missouri’s pro-secessionist governor

attempted to lead his state into the Confederacy. He was defeated by Federal forces and

pro-Union Missourians, and forced to retreat with the Missouri State Guard into Arkansas. In the

wake of the armies many Missourians resorted to irregular war in order to resist pro-Union

forces. Throughout the Civil War Missouri and eastern Kansas were burning with guerilla

warfare, and between 1861 and 1863 this conflict became progressively more brutal toward the

civilian population.


The cross-border violence between Missourians and Kansans peaked in August 21, 1863 with the

massacre and plundering of Lawrence, Kansas. The raid on Lawrence by Confederate Captain

William C. Quantrill’s band of Missouri bushwhackers is remembered as one of the most

shocking episodes of the American Civil War. Sweeping into this notorious center of the

free-soil movement and the home of several notorious anti-slavery leaders, a force of perhaps

400 obeyed their commander’s order to “…kill every man big enough to carry a gun.” By late

morning some 150 male citizens of Lawrence were killed, many of their families plundered, and

most of the town burned to the ground.


In an attempt to end such attacks by bushwacking bands, local Federal commander General

Thomas Ewing issued and enforced the infamous ‘General Order No. 11,’ which evicted almost

the entire population of several western Missouri counties bordering on Kansas. This extreme

measure did not end violence along the Kansas border, but it did enrage Missouri Secessionists

as well as many many Unionists and Neutrals throughout the state. The massacre at Lawrence

and its aftermath illustrate the cruelest aspect of our American Civil War, the horrible war behind

the lines.


Our speaker this month is historian and author David Lady from Huntsville, Alabama.  He is a native of Washington, D. C., and grew-up in northern Virginia during the Civil War Centennial. David’s branch of the Lady family lived in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia during 1860s, and ancestors fought on each side during the Civil War.


His interest in the era began as a child, thanks in part to visits to Gettysburg and the Virginia battlefields. This interest began to consume him when he read Bruce Catton’s “A Stillness at Appomattox,’ and Fletcher Pratt’s “Ordeal by Fire.’


David graduated from Wittenberg University, in Springfield OH, with a degree in History. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1974, and during his thirty-three year military career served as an Armor and Cavalry soldier and later as the Command Sergeant Major (CSM) of the U. S. Army Armor Center, the U. S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and the U. S. Army Europe.

David and wife Ellen live in Huntsville, where he is employed on Redstone Arsenal.


He has contributed chapters to two Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table books: “Alabama in the American Civil War,” and “Huntsville’s Civil War Generals.” He has also contributed articles to the Huntsville Historical Review and Army professional journals. He has led groups of soldiers and civilians on battlefield tours and military ‘staff rides’ at Gettysburg, Fort Donelson, Chickamauga, and Stones River. He is the new President of the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table, and

is also director of the Little Round Table Discussion Group.


Last Month’s meeting


Our own Greg Biggs stepped in for a program on the Cumberland River in the Civil War and its importance to Tennessee.  Starting with the Phoenicians (yep!) the program detailed the importance of bodies of water to civilizations, their expansion, economies and even empire.  From this came navys to protect water ways from predators and hostile powers.  With this basis, the US Navy, under US Army command (initially), created a fleet of ships to conquer the Southern rivers: Mississippi, Tennessee and the Cumberland Rivers (among others).  Timber, tin and ironclad warships backed by hundreds of transports projected Union military power deep into the South allowing for its conquest.  Where the rivers no longer were deep enough, they still helped the Union logistics effort for armies operating even deeper into the Southern interior.  It is because of this the Union would win the war.



December 2017 – Jim Lewis, Chief Ranger, Stones River National Battlefield – topic TBA

January 2018 – Todd Van Beck, Nashville CWRT – “They Changed Everything: Civil War Embalming Surgeons.”

February 2018 – Myers Brown, author/historian – “Equipping the Confederate Cavalryman”

March 2018 – Larry Krumenaker, author/historian – “Walking The Line: The Civil War Defenses of Atlanta”


MEMBERS AND DUES – The membership has decided that every May will be our fiscal year.  Please plan on taking care of your membership renewals at this meeting.  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


Your dues for the 2017-2018 fiscal year will be due at the May meeting.  Please plan on paying them at that month’s meeting if you have not already.  Your dues go to bringing in our speakers, donating to causes, etc. 




When your dues are paid you will be issued a new name badge with the fiscal year on it.  If you do not have a name badge then you are not current.


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!



Battle of FranklinTrust Hosts November Event – November 30th, 2017

The annual 153rd Anniversary of the Battle of Franklin tour and Illumination will be held on Thursday, November 30th starting at 4 PM – which is when the Confederate assault began.  Tours of the Carter House and Carnton will be part of the events – and these are free that day!  The event runs from 4 to 7 PM.


For more details and pricing for these events please visit the Battle of Franklin Trust web site at –


Nashville caught In A Battle Between Growth, Preservation – Williamson County Herald, Nov. 7, 2017 by Jonathan Mattise


NASHVILLE (AP) — Archaeologists are rolling high-powered radar gear through the thick outfield weeds and empty parking lots of an abandoned Nashville baseball stadium, looking for hints of unmarked graves of slaves and free black men who died building the war-battered fort next door.

The findings could prove pivotal for Fort Negley, one of the most significant Civil War sites for African-Americans and the focus of the latest clash between historic preservation and growth in a city with a complicated racial past.


The booming capital, which adds about 100 residents a day, is considering plans to demolish the ballpark for 21 acres (8 hectares) of housing, shops, space for artists and musicians, and a park.

Dilapidated Greer Stadium, a minor-league baseball park from 1978 until 2014, sits where the fort’s black laborers toiled, lived and died a century and a half ago, and where 50 to 800 workers are thought to be buried. But there’s little in the written record about how they were laid to rest.

Historical groups, the NAACP and park-space advocates think officials should reject the lease for private development on city land, and reconnect it to the fort as park space.


In a petition to block development and protect the fort, built for Union troops occupying Nashville, the preservation advocacy group Friends of Fort Negley Inc. has invoked a Tennessee law previously criticized for making it tougher to remove Confederate monuments.


“If we allow development to the point that the park itself becomes nothing more than a dog park for 300 homes out here, then we have truly failed this community,” said Robert Hicks, an author who helped preserve a Civil War battlefield in nearby Franklin, Tennessee.


Famed music producer T Bone Burnett and developer Bert Mathews support the housing and entertainment overhaul with Mayor Megan Barry’s backing. They want to revitalize land that was left to languish after the baseball team moved to a new ballpark near downtown.


The Cloud Hill plan proposes 300 residential units, greenways, creative space, and retail offerings. It also includes some affordable housing in a red-hot market, and promises to preserve the fort and its picturesque views.  “Metro and the Cloud Hill Partnership are absolutely committed to preserving historic Fort Negley Park while improving the adjacent Greer Stadium parcel to create active park space, greenways, and housing options for working families in Nashville,” said Barry’s spokesman, Sean Braisted.  Burnett calls any contention that he wants to put condos on African-American graves a “damned lie.”


Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research, contracted by the city for up to $55,000, won’t dig unless the radar suggests a grave shaft or burial pit lies beneath. They plan to file a report with recommendations by December.  “The primary thing is: Are there human remains present still?” said Virgil “Duke” Beasley, the group’s archaeological mentor.


After Confederate forces surrendered to Union soldiers in Nashville in 1862, the Union forced more than 2,700 runaway slaves and freed black people to help build Fort Negley. Men, women and children, from 13 to 55 years old, were taken from their homes and churches and only paid $13,000 of the $85,000 promised. One in four died, said Norm Hill, former Tennessee Historical Commission chairman.


Laborers were housed in a “contraband camp” at the fort’s base. During a raid, they were denied weapons but fought with shovels, picks and axes to help drive the Confederates away.

Many laborers joined the newly formed United States Colored Troops. Nashville’s African-American population nearly tripled during the war, from 4,000 in 1860 to more than 11,000 by 1865.


With little in the written record, other signs point to African-American burials there, said Zada Law, director of Middle Tennessee State University’s Geospatial Research Center. Slaves were buried outside the walls of many Tennessee cemeteries, and there was a Catholic cemetery at the base of the hill before the Civil War, Law said.  If workers died during the 1862 late-summer heat, it might have been expedient to bury them in the built-up soil nearby, she said.


The fort deteriorated over the years. The Works Progress Administration rebuilt it in 1936 and it reopened in 1938, but the fort fell into disrepair again. The Ku Klux Klan rallied there in the Jim Crow years, and segregated softball fields were later built nearby, Hicks said. Greer Stadium was built in the late 1970s.


The conflict became personal for Eleanor Fleming this summer, after Fort Negley’s Twitter page began tweeting laborers’ names. When Fleming saw the names Ruffin and Egbert Bright, her aunt confirmed that two ancestors worked on the fort.  Fleming, now living in Washington, D.C., knew the two were enslaved outside Nashville, not far from where her family still lives. She knows one wasn’t buried near the fort. She’s not sure about the other. Regardless, she said developing the land doesn’t seem right.  “You work, die in what had to have been the worst of conditions, and for what?” she said. “I’m not sure that a condo is how I’d like for things to end for me.”

Tennessee Campaign Seminar – Saturday, December 16th, 2017 To be Held At Fort Negley

Mark your calendars now to attend the upcoming seminar on the 1864 Tennessee Campaign that will be held at Fort Negley on Saturday, December 16th, 2017.  This event will examine aspects of the campaign with some of the latest in scholarship.  Speakers for the event are still being confirmed but two have been so far.


John Scales – historian/author/retired US Army Brigadier General – The Retreat From Nashville.  Many people think that the campaign’s fighting ended with the two day Battle of Nashville.  In fact there were a number of fights on the retreat all the way to the Tennessee state line from Holly Tree Gap to Sugar Creek.  Nathan Bedford Forrest and attached infantry formed the Confederate rear guard.  Gen. Scales is the author of the brand new military study on Gen. Forrest and will have his book for sale at the event.


Brian Allison – historian/author.  Brian is a first rate historian and his program will cover the Battle of Nashville from the Federal perspective.  Nashville was defended by one of the Union’s finest commanders, Gen. George Thomas.  Given carte blanche to pull in troops from wherever needed, Thomas reworked the city’s defenses and packed them with troops and guns.  But his role was more than defensive; Gen. U.S. Grant saw this as the opportunity to destroy John Bell Hood’s army with a smashing attack.  Brian will analyze all aspects of this plan and execution.


Greg Biggs – historian/author/tour guide.  Greg’s program will examine the role of the US Navy in the Tennessee Campaign.  Often neglected by historians of this campaign, the Navy performed a vital service from the Guntersville and Decatur, Alabama area of the Tennessee River to Nashville itself, where a fleet of gunboats was set to prevent the Confederates from crossing the Cumberland River.  Additional gunboats were at Clarksville.  This alone puts lie to the plan of Gen. John Bell Hood ever crossing this river and moving into Kentucky once he had captured Nashville.  The program will detail naval operations and the Battle of Bell’s Bend, west of Nashville.


This event is free and open to the public.  More details as we get them.


Nashville/Franklin Civil War Show – Saturday and Sunday, December 2-3, 2017


Once again the annual Civil War show in Franklin will be held at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center which is at Exit 61/Peytonsville Road off I-65 just south of Franklin.  This is the largest show of its kind in the nation with 1000 tables of relics, weapons, books, flags and much more!  The show hours, etc. can be found at the Mike Kent & Associates web site –  Entry is $8 for adults.  Many of our members attend this show.


Krista Castillo – President –

Gary Burke – Vice President –

Philip Duer – Treasurer and Preservation Liason –

Greg Biggs – Program Chair –


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