Friday, September 03, 2021

Nashville Then & Now: Looking south toward Redoubt No. 5

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The Battle of Nashville Trust recently acquired digitized copies of a remarkable set of images taken of the battlefield in 1899 by Albert Kern, a Dayton, Ohio, attorney and photography hobbyist. Nashville was one of many battlefield stops Kern made between 1890 and 1910. It's neat to see these photos of what the battlefield may have looked like in 1864, because pitiless developers have devoured much of it in the past 30-40 years.  

Here's info on how to join the
Battle of Nashville Trust.
(I am on the board.)

While dodging traffic and drawing incredulous looks from drivers, I shot a "Now" version of Kern's 1899 image on Hillsboro Pike looking south toward Redoubt No. 5, one of five earthen-and-log forts constructed by John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee in the countryside south of Nashville prior to the Dec. 15-16, 1864, battle. Above is a rough but representative "Then & Now" showing the significant changes at the site over the past century. (Here's a larger version on my Then & Now blog.) 

For a spot-on "Now" version, according to a fellow Battle of Nashville Trust board member, I needed to stand at the McDonald's a little farther north on Hillsboro Pike. (Ugh, I hate their Big Macs.) Urban clutter from that spot would have prevented a decent "Now" shot. Besides, I had a construction nail in my shoe and desperately wanted to avoid tetanus. 

The historical marker
on Hillsboro Pike for
Redoubt No. 5.
According to a source, remains of Redoubt No. 5 may be found behind the condos complex on the hill in the distance. (Pssst: Don't tell Mrs. B. or my insurance agent, but months ago I shot a photo of the historical marker along Hillsboro Pike denoting Redoubt No. 5 while driving my car.)
There's not much good about this section of Hillsboro Pike—well, maybe except for the Shake Shack that serves an awesome strawberry shake topped with whipped cream 😅 and a Whole Foods market that sells a lot of swell but overpriced fruit and vegetables. As you can see below in the Google Street View, an apartment complex and a church occupy ground along the pike that once was a cornfield and pasture. 


I zoomed in on the "Then" image by Kern hoping to find a stray musket or perhaps an artillery shell left over from the battle. Alas, no relics were found. But I discovered neat details: a dry-stack wall (some  survive in the Nashville area); a small bridge over Sugartree Creek; and in the field at right, a residence and outbuildings. I'll check out deed/property records from the period. 

Dry-stack walls in Nashville
along Granny White Pike, similar
to what once lined Hillsboro Pike.
According to Jim Kay of the Battle of Nashville Trust, the property to the left of the pike was the Felix Compton farm—Colonel Bill Shy of the 20th Tennessee was taken there after he was killed nearby at Compton's Hill, now known as Shy's Hill, on Day 2 of the battle. (Smart people from the University of Vanderbilt recently used ground-penetrating radar to examine that site.) 

While I head over to Shake Shack, check out my posts on visits to what remains of Redoubts 3 and 4. And here's my Rambling column in Civil War Times magazine on Nashville hallowed ground today, what I like to call a "battlefield of the mind."

As always, let's keep history—and strawberry milkshakes topped with whipped cream—alive.

A cropped enlargment of Albert Kern's 1899 Kern photo shows dry-stack walls and a bridge
 on Hillsboro Pike. The historic road looks much different today.
A residence and outbuildings appear on the right side of Hillsboro Pike in this cropped enlargement
 of Albert Kern's 1899 image. (CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)

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