Fort Negley Descendants Project: Nashville's Black Legacies of the Civil War
As the largest inland stone fortification built during the Civil War, Fort Negley stood as the centerpiece of Union occupied Nashville. From August through December 1862, more than 2700 conscript laborers, predominately contrabands (runaway slaves) and free Blacks, constructed Fort Negley, atop St. Cloud Hill, as part of a massive fortification system. Fort Negley’s location, size, and guns discouraged Confederate attacks throughout the war. During the Battle of Nashville, December 15 and 16, 1864, Fort Negley’s artillery aided in driving off General Hood’s forces. Tennessee rejoined the Union in July 1867. Union forces occupied Nashville and Fort Negley until September. At that time, the army dismantled the majority of Nashville’s defenses. Today, however, only ruins of the Fort remain. The Fort Negley Descendants Project captures oral history interviews with descendants of the African-American laborers and soldiers who built and defended the fort in the 1860's.