May Meeting!!! Forrest’s Railroad Raid of 1864!

May 17th, 2017 – Our 156th meeting.  We continue our eleventh year!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Tennova Hospital.  This is just off Dunlop Lane and Holiday Drive and only a few minutes east of Governor’s Square mall.  The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and is always open to the public.  Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.

Our Speaker and Topic  – “Forrest’s Railroad Raid of 1864”

Throughout the summer of 1864 Confederate General Joe Johnston had been begging Richmond to send Nathan Bedford Forrest to break Sherman’s supply lines during the Atlanta campaign.  Fully aware of Forrest’s prowess as a raider, Union commander Gen. William T. Sherman had cannily arranged raids into Mississippi that kept Forrest tied down in the Magnolia State.  These culminated on the battles at Brice’s Crossroads and Tupelo/Harrisburg.  In mid July, Johnston got fired, his replacement John Bell Hood was unable to hold Atlanta, and finally, after Atlanta surrendered on September 2nd, Forrest was ordered to leave Mississippi and go after Sherman’s railroads in Middle Tennessee and northern Alabama.  This is the story of that raid—highly successful at the tactical level but its subtitle could be “Two Months Late and a Division Short.”  In the end, Sherman’s strategic plan to keep Forrest off of his railroads worked.

Our speaker this month is Brig. Gen. John Scales (Ret.).  An Alabama native, General Scales attended the University of Alabama 1966-70, graduating in 1970 with a degree in physics and a commission as an infantry lieutenant in the U. S. Army. He graduated from infantry officer basic, airborne and Ranger schools before being assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Later he led a rifle platoon in combat in Vietnam and joined the 101st Airborne upon return to the US. Leaving active duty in 1975, he joined the 20th Special Forces Group of the Alabama National Guard while getting a master’s degree at the University and becoming Special Forces qualified. Over the years, while first teaching and later working as a scientist in Huntsville, he commanded a Special Forces A Detachment, company, battalion, and the 20th itself.  He was selected for promotion to general and assignment to US Army Special Forces Command, where he was first deputy commander and later acting commander. After 9/11 he was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command and led a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan. General Scales retired from the military in late 2002 and continued his career as a scientist in Huntsville, being granted five patents and publishing two military history books, with another scheduled to be published this summer.

Last Month’s meeting

Robert Hodge gave us an informative program on the Battle of Spotylvania Courthouse, the first major fight of the Overland Campaign pitting Robert E. Lee versus Ulysses S. Grant for the first time.  The great movements of Grant, heading to Richmond knowing that Lee’s army would place itself in between that city and Grant, was Grant’s great plan; to wear down Lee at every turn.  Indeed, while costing tremendous casualties by campaign’s end, Grant had forced Lee into the defenses of Richmond and later Petersburg, costing him the ability to maneuver which he did so well.  Hodge is not only a fine filmmaker but also a fine historian and we thank him for his program.


June 2017 – Steve Davis, author/historian – “Bonnie Blue Flop: The Relationship Between Beauregard and Hood On The Tennessee Campaign of 1864.”

July 2017 – David Deatrick, Louisville CWRT – “Kentucky Union General Lovell Rosseau”

August 2017 – Todd Van Beck, Nashville CWRT – “Civil War Embalming Surgeons: They Changed Everything.”

September 2017 – Allen Mesch, author/historian – “General Charles F. Smith” (based on his book)

October 2017 – Edward Semmes, historian – “Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes”

November 2017 – Scott Sallee, historian/author – “Joe Porter’s War: The Civil War in Northeast Missouri, 1862” (based on his book)

December 2017 – Jim Lewis, Chief Ranger, Stones River National Battlefield – topic TBA

IMPORTANT –  MEMBERS AND DUES: DUES ARE DUE AT THE JULY 2017 MEETING.  WHEN YOU ARE CURRENT YOU WILL GET A NEW CWRT MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR.  Thanks to all of you, the Clarksville CWRT continues to grow.  We would love to have you join us!  If you have friends interested in the Civil War, please bring them along.  July is our fiscal year when dues for the current campaign were due.  If you haven’t paid your dues for this season yet please do so.  Our dues help us get great speakers and for historical preservation.  Annual dues are as follows:

  • Student – $10
  • Single membership – $20
  • Family – $30
  • Military – Active duty and veterans – $15
  • Military family – Active duty, veterans, and family – $25

Please plan on paying your dues at this month’s meeting.  If you cannot attend please send payment to Greg Biggs, 2600 W. Henderson Way, Clarksville, TN 37042.



Fort Negley Park Area Under Development Threat

On April 28th, 2017, reporter Betsy Phillips wrote the following article in the weekly Nashville Scene paper:

Developers Propose the Desecration of Fort Negley

Shame on us if we let it happen

WKRN has a story about a proposed development around Fort Negley:

On Tuesday, we heard from a developer who has big plans for the empty property (Greer Stadium site): a multi-purpose complex called Nashville Adventure Park.”

“The proposal includes senior living, luxury apartments, townhomes, affordable housing, a farmer’s market at the stadium, artisan retail and studios, restaurants, a hotel, and a wide variety of sports offerings.”

“If you imagine the hill that the main part of the fort sits on as an egg yolk, this development would be like the egg white, seeming to completely surround the fort, except for where the Adventure Science Center sits.”

“In other words, the old Catholic Cemetery and the large City Cemetery annexes that the Union opened during the Civil War would all be gone. And, fine, they’re supposed to be empty anyway, but if I were a developer, I’d put a line in my budget for dead parts removal.”

“More disturbingly and more tragically, this development sits on the site of the contraband camp, the home of thousands of black refugees during the Civil War. As Zada Law pointed out two years ago, there’s been virtually no archaeology done at any contraband camp in Tennessee.”

“We’ve already irretrievably lost whatever was under the Adventure Science Center, but a lot remains relatively undisturbed. Even the parts under the parking lot are just under a parking lot. We have not yet screwed up a crucial bit of Nashville’s African American history, even if we haven’t bothered to explore it like we should. But if we let developers have it, then that history will be lost. Sure, some archaeologists could come in and do history triage to try to learn as much as they could before it’s torn up, but the Civil War isn’t that far down in the ground. We will lose it.”

“And frankly, how much more of our Civil War history do we have to lose? We already put I-440 on top of the Confederate line and built a city on the battlefield. One of the most important battles of the Civil War and we let Franklin and Murfreesboro be the tourist destinations while we metaphorically kick the rug over what’s left of our Civil War sites.”

“Shame on us if we let this development happen.  Shame on us if we knowingly let this history slip away.”

Here is what the proposed development looks like:


Somewhere in the middle of this monstrosity lies Fort Negley and the visitors center.  Note that the parking for the latter has not been expanded.  It has been proven time and again that history tourism brings in far more money than any other – people have more to spend, stay longer, etc. if you give them something to see and promote it so they know about it.  The traffic count for the area will explode making it even more difficult to get to the fort to visit.  Don’t believe me?  Look at what has happened at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA with the massive growth of Virginia Commonwealth University around it; their attendance has fallen off to the point that they are moving to new quarters down on the James River.

Traffic comes with big cities.  But traffic also drives people away from doing things just so they do not have to deal with it.  People spend enough time in traffic just going to and from work five days a week; they do not want to deal with it on weekends when they want to do something fun.

Ms. Phillips’ article also brings out the tremendous loss of historic ground upon which sits the fort and its surrounding area, which was all part of the fort’s footprint.  Shall Nashville follow the same mistaken path that Atlanta did many years ago by paving over its history from the Civil War?  How does this travesty being proposed in Nashville compare to what is happening just a few miles down the road in Franklin where they lead the nation in reclaiming lost Civil War land and restoring it to how it looked over 150 years ago?  It is a pathetic failure on Nashville’s part.

Like so many other cities, Nashville has lots of places that are basically blight that can be redeveloped into something like in the above drawing; places that are not historic Civil War lands.  How about moving this thing there instead and leave Fort Negley be?

If you want to help stop this development, please contact the Mayor of Nashville, Megan Berry, and the Nashville Metro City Council.  You should also contact the City of Nashville Metro Parks department and let them know how you feel about this.  The city’s web site is www.nashville.govLet them hear the voices of the Civil War community of America and stop this development.

By Greg Biggs (The above is the opinion of Greg Biggs, president of the Clarksville CWRT and not necessarily the opinion of the Clarksville CWRT as a whole or the staff of Fort Negley Park, a unit of Nashville Metro City parks.)

Kennesaw State University in Georgia Announces New Seminar – June 2017

General Orders, Headquarters, Kennesaw, Ga., May 2017
Next on the power-packed schedule for 2017 are the Second Annual Vince Dooley Leadership Seminar on June 17 and the ever-popular Collector’s Showcase on July 22. In addition to the legendary coach himself, Craig Symonds highlights the program for the Dooley Seminar, with an examination of leadership exhibited during the crucial D-Day operation in the Second World War, while Dr. Wills will assess unique aspects of Civil War leadership.

Although operating through the University, the Civil War Center depends upon the generous financial contributions of friends and donors to function. We could not offer programs such as these without your support and attendance. This critical assistance builds the foundation for future activities and enables the Center to serve both students and members of the wider public community. We continue to invite you to join or re-enroll in the Kennesaw Corps Annual Membership through which members receive special discounts or admission to many of the Center’s activities. Please plan to join us at all of these events and bring friends so that they can see the enthusiasm and excitement for themselves and enjoy the educational opportunities they provide. We look forward to seeing you soon!



Kentucky Historical Society Hosts Seminar On Kentucky’s Civil War Governors – June 2017


The Kentucky Historical Society presents:

2017 Civil War Governors of Kentucky Symposium

June 8 & 9

Join us as we bring together noted historians to help chart the future of 19th century historiography in the Upper South. Faculty and graduate students will have a rare opportunity to see new trends and important research questions developing before they are in print.


Twelve prominent scholars from universities across the U.S. and Great Britain will gather to present new work from the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition and discuss the new types of analysis that this innovative digital history project will allow historians to undertake.


Sessions all day on June 8 and on the morning of June 9 in the historic Old State Capitol will feature discussions centered on new work on warfare, gender, economics, material culture, slavery and more.
Click here for more information about participants and topics.
Workshop Session on the afternoon of June 8 for teachers at all levels and public historians will collaboratively address ways to incorporate CWGK primary sources into creative and innovative classroom activities and exhibits.


Lunch & Reception included in ticket price will give guests the opportunity to interact and network with symposium participants.


The keynote speaker is Edward L. Ayres.


$25 KHS Members and Students* | $30 Others Price includes box lunch and evening reception.   Reservations required by 5 p.m., June 5.  Call 502-564-1792, ext. 4408


The Kentucky Historical Society is located at 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort KY 40601  (502) 564-1792

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