The History of Fort Negley

Union troops built Fort Negley after capturing Nashville during the Civil War. The structures were built about two miles south of the city center, making it the largest inland fort built in the country at the time.

Confederate forces were defeated at Forts Donelson and Henry in 1862. The commanders decided that defending Nashville was pointless after that event, so they abandoned attempts to keep the city behind their lines.

Union forces occupied the city and prepared for its defense immediately. The star-shaped Fort Negley was built using local limestone and cost $130,000 at the time. Local slaves, including women, were made to do the work – including newly freed people who came after the city fell. 

It was named after General James S. Negley.

The Battle of Nashville Began in 1864

When the Battle of Nashville eventually commenced, it was primarily fought further south than Fort Negley. Despite its appearance, it never played a leading role in the conflict. After the war was over, it was quickly abandoned and fell into ruin.

Preservation work for Fort Negley began in the 1930s, but it wouldn’t be until the early 2000s when a meaningful restoration project started. The area was opened to the public for the first time in decades in 2004. 

You can tour the outline of the fort’s ruins with a visit, seeing the star-shaped walls as they currently stand. Although preservation work as stopped further deterioration, you’ll still be walking amongst ruins. 

Fort Negley is now listed as a site of memory in the Slave Route Project. Families, couples and individuals will find a visit to this historic landmark worthwhile.