Fort Negley was the largest fortification built by the occupying Union Army in Nashville, and the largest inland stone fort constructed during the Civil War. Though the fort was used as a Union Army centerpiece when declaring its superiority over Confederate forces, it was never actually directly attacked during the Battle of Nashville, which claimed some 9,000 lives.
Fort Negley covered four acres and was built in 1862 by both slaves and free blacks.
More than 2,700 African-American men worked for three months to build Fort Negley, with only about 300 of them being paid for their labor.
During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, the area was used as a meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan. Signage along the fort's walkways now tells the story of the fort and the people who built and manned it.
After six decades of neglect and having been closed to the public the fort reopened in December 2004.
In December of 2007, Metro Nashville city officials, members of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, and about 200 spectators braved the harsh elements to attend the opening of the new $1 million, taxpayer-funded Fort Negley Visitors Center. The facility is just a stone's throw from Fort Negley and located on a hill just off Chestnut Street between Greer Stadium and the Adventure Science Center.
The Visitors Center was opened on the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Nashville, commemorating what is believed to have been the location of the opening salvo of shots in one of the Civil War's most important battles.
The Fort Negley Visitors Center, a 4,605-square-foot facility, includes a multipurpose theater, exhibit space, meeting room, and an outdoor plaza.
The plan now is for Fort Negley and the new Visitors Center to be used for educational purposes, and to help people search for their ancestors who fought in the Civil War through access to a national computer database.
The center features interactive technology, archival photos, and a video documentary about Nashville's role in the Civil War, narrated by the ubiquitous Kix Brooks of country music duo Brooks & Dunn.
Admission to the Fort Negley Visitors Center is free and it is open Tuesday through Saturday. Tours of the fort will be conducted in partnership with the historic Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum, about six miles to the south. Volunteer and Docent positions are available. The Fort Negley Visitors Center is being operated by employees of Metro Parks.