Gary M. Burke - Fort Negley Descendants Project Oral History
Nashville native Gary Burke recounts his personal history in relation to Fort Negley, and his involvement in the 13th United States Colored Troop Living History Organization. After Mr. Burke dug into his family history, he found that members of his family had fought in every war starting in the Civil War. The Sons of Union Veterans group traced his lineage to Peter Bailey, who fought for the Union at Fort Negley in 1865. Mr. Burke discusses his pride and sense of connection to Fort Negley, as well as the multiple conflicts that his ancestor fought in at Granbury’s Lunette and Peach Orchard Hill in Tennessee. At an event hosted by Fort Negley on December 2, 2017 to honor the 2,771 African-American laborers who built the fort, he reads a poem that he wrote about his feelings about Fort Negley, and discusses the conscripted labor that the Union Army used to build the fort. Mr. Burke explores the Works Progress Administration rebuild of the Fort, and how the perception of the place has changed over time. He details his visit to Peter Bailey’s grave in Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois, where Burke placed a Sons of Union Veterans marker by Bailey’s final resting place. He speaks about our duty to protect the legacy and story for those who can no longer tell their own stories.