Wars Commission Awards over $5 Million in Grant Funds

By Nina L. Scall, Director of Programs

The Tennessee Wars Commission, a division of the Tennessee Historical Commission, is pleased to announce a total of $5,184,162.24 in grants awarded for the 2022-2023 cycle between the Civil War Sites Preservation Fund (CWSPF) and Wars Commission Grant Fund (WCGF). These two grant funds make key contributions to saving threatened battlefield properties and provide an understanding of Tennessee’s military heritage.

The Tennessee Historical Commission has voted to award $5,055,000.00 in Civil War Sites Preservation Grant Funds to the American Battlefield Trust (ABT) and to Franklin’s Charge, Inc. for the acquisition of battlefield lands, where the THC will hold the conservation easements. Additionally, the Historical Commission has voted to award $129,162.24 in Wars Commission Grant Funds to five applicants. The successful projects are as follows:

Civil War Sites Preservation Fund:

Wright Tract

1. The American Battlefield Trust, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County: “Wright Tract”

was awarded $3,330,000.00 for the acquisition of 37 acres of battlefield property in Rutherford County associated with the Stones River Battlefield. This parcel is within two miles of the two 2020 acquisitions, the O’Reilly Tract and the Van Cleve Tract. Where, on December 26, 1862, Major General William S. Rosecrans initiated a winter campaign and his Army of the Cumberland departed Nashville to engage General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. After several days of maneuvering, the armies faced one another near Murfreesboro. Both commanders planned to attack on New Year’s Eve, each deciding to assault the other’s right flank. Ultimately, Rosecrans’ victory at Stones River was an important boost for Union morale and added military weight to the recently issued Emancipation Proclamation.

Williams Tract

2. Franklin’s Charge, Inc., Franklin, Williamson County: “Williams Tract” 

was awarded $1,725,000.00 for the acquisition of the approximately 0.85-acre parcel adjacent to the Spivey Tract, preserved in 2019, and is among a cluster of preserved battlefield property near the Carter House State Historic Site. The Williams Tract was once part of the farm belonging to F. B. Carter, whose house became the headquarters for the Union 23rd Corps during the battle that took place on November 30, 1864. This tract was the scene of heavy casualties pounded by artillery fire from two directions, killing and wounding scores of Confederate soldiers. Dozens were buried after the battle before being exhumed and moved to Carnton. After the war, the Williams Tract returned to the Carter family.

Wars Commission Grant Fund:

1. Camp Blount Historic Site Association, Fayetteville, Lincoln County: “Foundation Document”

Camp Blount encompasses the last 40 undeveloped acres that held the significant mustering site of Tennessee’s volunteers during the War of 1812. Due to the successful planning and execution of the site’s development and its preliminary projects, Camp Blount is ready for its next phase in planning, the creation of a National Park Service (NPS)-level foundation document. The Camp Blount Historic Site Association has been awarded $16,976.24 to hire historic preservation professionals to coordinate efforts, compile information, and draft the foundation document.

2. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Murfreesboro, Rutherford County: “LiDAR of Fort Negley”           

Middle Tennessee State University has been awarded $18,502.00 in funds to hire an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) consultant to conduct a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and orthoimagery remote sensing survey of Fort Negley Park. The objective of the survey is to collect geospatial data and to create three-dimensional data products whose uses are threefold, one, to identify cultural landscape features at the site; two, to develop a geographic platform for an administrative record of the archaeological excavations and the stone wall fortifications; and three, to develop reference material for researchers, the Metro Historical Commission, Metro Parks Department, and contractors working to implement the 2022 Master Plan.

3. Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, Chattanooga, Hamilton County: “Phase II Archaeological Survey”

Since 2021, the Tennessee Historical Commission has held the conservation easement on the 300-acre Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center due to its association with the Lookout Mountain Battlefield. Archaeology has helped inform development decisions in the past and is required yet again to help guide the gentle development of the property to accommodate the future needs of the arboretum. The $29,000.00 award will ensure the proper preservation and conservation of archaeology and any material culture removed from the ground. Additionally, archaeological excavations will help to expand interpretation efforts at the arboretum to include stories of the Civil War for visitors.

4. The Andrew Jackson Foundation, Hermitage, Davidson County: “War of 1812 Living History Programming”

Each year over 200,000 visitors experience Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and deepen their understanding of the nation’s history. The Andrew Jackson Foundation (AJF) was awarded $17,500.00 in grant funds for the creation of two living history programs focused on the War of 1812. The first, “Andrew Jackson and the Tennessee Militia” will explore the history, hardships, and challenges that the militiamen faced during the War of 1812. The second, “The War of 1812 Encampment,” will be a large-scale living history event that will bring together over 100 professional reenactors for an event-filled weekend focused on developing a broad and unique interpretation of the daily life of the militiamen.

5. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Davidson County: “Geophysical Work, Mapping the Battle of Nashville”

The Battle of Nashville was the culminating event of the Civil War in the West that was both the final destruction of the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the last major engagement of the American Civil War in the Western Theater. The $47,184.00 award will be used to implement newer, cutting-edge historical and archaeological tools such as geophysical surveys, comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis, georeferenced historic maps, high-resolution digital scanning, landscape modelling, magnetometry, and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to characterize this battlespace. The data will be integrated with other historical and technical information to create a digital ESRI StoryMap. Users will be able to journey through the battlespace, past and present.

The 2023-2024 grant cycle for the Civil War Sites Preservation Fund opens on August 14, 2023 and runs through November 3, 2023. The Wars Commission Grant Fund opens on September 1, 2023 and runs through November 19, 2023. More information on the grants can be found on the Wars Commission’s website