Fort Negley Needs Funds For Carriages
To Get Loan Of Parrotts
By Gregory L. Wade
(November 2011 Civil War News)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The sun may soon be reflecting off two large cannon along Fort Negley’s hilltop works, if local preservationists and historians have their way.
The Friends of Fort Negley announced it is in the process of procuring two original 4.2-inch Army Parrott Rifles, 30 pdrs., produced at New York’s West Point Foundry, for display on the site of similar guns during the Civil War.
Friends President Larry Carter said the National Park Service has agreed to provide the tubes, now stored at Shiloh National Military Park, on a long-term loan “provided we can have carriages constructed for them.”
These large Parrott rifles, which weigh over 4,000 pounds, were primarily used as siege guns since they were too large to move easily. The Parrotts at Fort Negley could send a projectile over 2.5 miles and were thought to have fired the first shots of the Battle of Nashville.
Carter said the city, which operates the fort, has been extremely easy to work with and gave quick approval to placing the Parrotts in the park.
Battle of Nashville Preservation Society President Phil Duer points out the importance of obtaining the cannons and their role in interpreting the fort.
His association is working with friends group to help raise the estimated $50,000 needed for the carriages. Once emplaced, the cannons will be easily seen from nearby Interstate 65.
Fort Negley, along with other works surrounding the city, made Nashville the second most fortified city in the country, after Washington, D.C. The works of heavy stone construction were built in 1862, largely with impressed black labor.
The forts served not only as defense against Confederate attack, but as a Union bastion to remind Confederate-leaning residents who was in charge. Historians note that some of the artillery faced downtown Nashville, the first major Southern city to fall in the war.
After the war Fort Negley was vacated only to receive new life as a Depression-era public works project and renovation as a historical site in the 1930s. It was again abandoned as attention turned to World War II.
In 2004 the brush-covered site was rediscovered and reopened as one of Nashville’s city parks, with a $1 million interpretative center added in 2007.
The first annual Fort Negley Living History and Skirmish was held last year as part of the friends group’s fund raising and educational efforts. This year’s event attracted several hundred spectators who visited reenactor camps and watched artillery demonstrations.
Carter said attendance at Fort Negley Park continues to rise. Noting the significance of heavy artillery at the fort, he said they hope to place more cannons in the future, perhaps replicas.
Carter laughed when asked a common question, if the guns will be fired. “Let’s get them in place first,” he said.
To learn more about Fort Negley and to donate to the cannon carriage fund go to www.nashville.gov/parks/about/friends/ftnegley/asp