1100 Fort Negley Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37203Phone:
Fort Negley represented the first extensive use of newly freed blacks in the Federal war effort.
Fort Negley was a Federal Civil War fortification built largely by African American labor in 1862 and garrisoned in part by African American soldiers during the battle of Nashville in December 1864. Located in Nashville, Fort Negley represented the first extensive use of newly freed blacks in the Federal war effort and its success influenced the later creation of contraband labor camps in other Tennessee towns. U.S. Army engineer James St. Clair Morton designed the fort as a polygonal structure approximately 600 by 300 feet, built of dirt, stones, and timber, with extensive underground magazines and storage spaces.
Federal troops, including the U.S. Colored Troops, occupied Fort Negley until at least 1867. After they left, it became a gathering place for the initial Nashville Den of the Ku Klux Klan, who used it in 1869 for its last public demonstration. Nathan B. Forrest led Klan members to the fort, where they burned their robes and officially disbanded. The fort soon deteriorated; many stones were later used in building Nashville's Eighth Avenue Reservoir.
From 1936 to 1937 the Works Progress Administration restored the fort, but the original park plans were never carried through and the fort once again was abandoned. After six decades of neglect, the fort finally reopened in December 2004, and in 2007 the new Fort Negley Visitors Center opened. Fort Negley represents "the uneasy alliance between the Union Army and local blacks in their successful campaign to preserve the Union and destroy slavery."
- Federal Civil War fortification built by African American labor in 1862
- African American soldiers guarded the fort during the battle of Nashville in 1864 and continued to occupy it until 1867.