Nashville, Tennessee: Archaeologists survey Nashville development site for Civil War fort, African-American graves

Fort Negley. Library of Congress


Interesting story on the reclamation of African American history in Nashville, Tennessee, courtesy of the Associated Press.


Archaeologists are rolling high-powered radar gear through the thick outfield weeds and empty parking lots of an abandoned Nashville baseball stadium, looking for hints of unmarked graves of slaves and free black men who died building the war-battered fort next door.

The findings could prove pivotal for Fort Negley, one of the most significant Civil War sites for African-Americans and the focus of the latest clash between historic preservation and growth in a city with a complicated racial past.

The booming capital, which adds about 100 residents a day, is considering plans to demolish the ballpark for 21 acres of housing, shops, space for artists and musicians, and a park.

Dilapidated Greer Stadium, a minor-league baseball park from 1978 until 2014, sits where the fort’s black laborers toiled, lived and died a century and a half ago, and where 50 to 800 workers are thought to be buried. But there’s little in the written record about how they were laid to rest.

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Fort Negley was named a threatened cultural landscape earlier this year. In August, Fort Negley Park launched a social media project to honor the 2, 771 African American laborers who built the fort and other Civil War fortifications in Nashville. Via their twitter page, the names of the men impressed into service are being released in individual tweets. The project will culminate in mid-December. A complete, digitized index of all laborers, free and enslaved, and names of associated slave owners may be found here. ♦