Nashville City Cemetery

July 2, 2009

I ran across a blog with some great photos taken in the Nashville City Cemetery. Few people visit this place, which is across the street from Fort Negley. It was opened in 1822 and received many bodies from the Civil War.

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Fort Negley visitor center opens

December 14, 2007

According to the Tennessean, the long overdue visitors center for Nashville’s Fort Negley opens on Saturday. Located south of downtown–Map of 534 Chestnut St Nashville, TN 37203-4803, US–and the largest Civil War site in the city, the name Fort Negley might as well be short for Fort Neglected.

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Pondering Pulaski: Contemplating the Klan

October 30, 2007

Drove from Kingsport to the Jack Daniel’s distillery today, then headed west on U.S. 64 bound for Memphis. We stopped in Pulaski to get a photo of the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, and therein lies a tale.

In the days following the Civil War, this nefarious organization was allegedly conjured up by six bored Confederate veterans on Christmas Eve of 1865. The story (at least among white Southerners) goes that the young men really meant no harm in creating an organization with weird names and costumes. Covered with sheets, they pranced around on horseback on winter nights and just happened to notice that their actions scared the superstitious former slaves in and around Giles County.

Yeah. Right.

Somehow baser elements took hold of the Klan (again according to white gentry) and transformed it into a terrorist organization that ruled much of the Reconstruction South and was led by none other than Nathan Bedford Forrest, former slave merchant and tactical genius for the Confederacy. When he saw that Klan lawlessness might bring more Federal troops to the South, he disbanded the Klan, but, alas, it has never really died.

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Stanley at Shiloh

September 30, 2007

The cover of today’s New York Times Book Review features a wonderful book review of Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal. The reviewer is Paul Theroux, one of my favorite travel writers.

Under the heading of I Didn’t Know That comes the fact, revealed in the review, that the man who famously “found” Dr. David Livingstone (but never uttered “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”) fought in the battle of Shiloh. Theroux writes:

“. . . (Stanley) joined the Confederate Army, in a local regiment, the Dixie Grays, in 1861. He fought at the battle of Shiloh, was captured by a Union patrol, clapped into prison at Camp Douglas and given the choice of fighting for the North or rotting. He changed sides, marched under a Union flag, then deserted and sailed to Wales. . . .”

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Battle of Knoxville exhibit opens at McClung Museum

August 6, 2007

As Civil War battles go, the Battle of Knoxville wasn’t one of the big ones, but, not counting clashes in Chattanooga, it was the largest one in East Tennessee. The McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee campus is about to open a new permanent exhibit on what is known locally as the Battle of Fort Sanders.

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Photo courtesy of McClung Museum

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Changing visitors spell uncertain future for National Parks

August 1, 2007

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has an interesting piece on changes in the demographics of visitors to National Parks and what this means for the future of those parks. Writer Angie Herrington talked to Shawn Benge, the superintendent of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. and Bob Miller, spokesman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Benge notes that white males come to Civil War parks to learn about the battles and “who shot who” and may be following the footsteps of their ancestors. This is not the case with minority visitors, who Benge speculates might be more interested in the reasons the war was fought.

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Rattle and Snap rolls out carriage house for guests

May 2, 2007

Rattle and Snap, the most stunning plantation home in Tennessee and one of the finest ones in the entire South, will soon open its carriage house for overnight guests. Built by a member of Tennessee’s Polk family–kinfolks of President James K. Polk–Rattle and Snap was named for a dice game in which the Polk family won the land on which it is built. More details can be found here.

The house was lovingly restored by Amon Carter Evans, who opened it to thousands of visitors per year. When he sold the plantation, however, the regularly scheduled visits came to an end. Rattle and Snap is one of the few plantation homes that still sits amid farmland, so this will be a wonderful place to stay.

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