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The Outer Line: 1864

"December 16, 1864. Federal outer line. The War in the West. Gen. Hood before Nashville." Wet plate glass negative by George N. Barnard. View full size.

"December 16, 1864. Federal outer line. The War in the West. Gen. Hood before Nashville." Wet plate glass negative by George N. Barnard. View full size.


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Up close and personal

What impresses me is how close the men's tents are to the earthworks. I would not have expected that.

I'm assuming the man in the dark suit and flat cap is a civilian -- possibly the photographer himself or an assistant. The fellow in the overcoat and black hat could well be a soldier, though.

Fort Negley

At best, I have a cursory knowledge of the Battle of Nashville, but I would assume this was taken at Fort Negley, just south from the center of town near Interstate 65 and Eighth Avenue. If my assumption is correct, you would be looking at the rear of the Cumberland Science Museum today from this location. Here's the street view facing north from Fort Negley Blvd, I assume the men were standing a little up the hill to the right.

Incidentally, Fort Negley was rebuilt as a WPA project. I wonder if there are any photos at the LOC of that work?

View Larger Map

As for the trees, our ancestors took most of them in the name of progress. Most of our state was a big muddy mess at the turn of the twentieth century.


I've only traveled sparingly east of the Mississippi during my lifetime, so what strikes me first with many of these Civil War photos is the sparsity of trees. In all my travels through these regions, they always seemed to be densely forested. At least along the major highways. But thanks to these photo archives one begins to appreciate just how exposed these soldiers actually were during their battles. And to the harsh elements as shown here. Can we assume that large building behind the trees in the background was within the city of Nashville?

[I think this is probably pretty far from the city proper. Click below for some views of Nashville taken by The same photographer at the time of the battle. - Dave]


War Clouds

It does look miserable. The weather around Nashville in December 1864 was very bad for anyone sleeping in the field. A terrible ice storm on December 8 kept both armies in their positions (and left Grant fuming about the inaction of Thomas). In another week the Army of the Cumberland moved against Hood and defeated him.

I've seen this image...

elsewhere but I've never been able to appreciate the details till now.

From the blurry groups of men huddling around fires to the stacks of muskets stretching off to the horizon, I could look at this for hours.

You can almost smell the smoke from the fires and feel the cold.

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