Notes and comments from the Nashville Historical Newsletter.
- Jim Summerville, “The Battle of Nashville Monument,” NHN, March 1997
The pace is quickening at Hawkins Partners, chief contractor overseeing the relocation and restoration of the Battle of Nashville Monument. A concept plan for the new site, the southwest corner of Granny White and Battlefield Drive, is underway. By early April the firm hopes to turn over to the state architect the bid packages for all subcontracting, including the sculpting of the new 40-foot obelisk and angel that were part of the original monument. Groundbreaking may take place sometime this summer.
The Tennessee Historical Commission, which owns the monument, selected the new site in 1992. Thanks to federal, state, and local funds, as well as numerous private contributions, this great art and history treasure will be brought back to public view and appreciation.
The driving force behind the monument’s creation was May Winston Caldwell and the Ladies’ Battlefield Association. In 1911 the group secured four acres at Franklin Road and Thompson Lane, where in 1863 Union and Confederate forces had clashed fiercely. At this place the association determined to erect a memorial to mark the last major action in the western theater, the Battle of Nashville.
World War I delayed the project, and by the time the Association commissioned sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, the idea for a solders’ memorial had taken on new significance. On the battlefields of Europe, Southern and Northern young men had fought side by side, reuniting the country under one flag. Moretti expressed this idea in two rearing horses, representing the former enemies, yoked together by a youth who stood for the young men who had served on foreign fields.
Finally dedicated in 1927, the Battle of Nashville monument stood proudly for many years. Then in 1974 a tornado destroyed the obelisk and the Angel of Peace that crowned it. In the 1980s a 13-acre interchange for I-440 and I-65 pressed against the site, isolating the remaining bronze, the youth and horses, on a pinched plot of ground. For some time, acid rain has been pitting the soft marble of the base. Lately, vandals have scrawled graffiti on the stone.
This great wrong will now be righted, as the Battle of Nashville comes to its new home. In the vicinity of the new location, the Confederate line under General A. P. Stewart reached its farthest advance on the afternoon of December 15, 1864.
2. NHN: A Work of Art Needs Your Help, September 1997
Contractors working on the restoration of the Battle of Nashville Monument would be grateful to hear from anyone who possesses any fragments of the original sculpture. Pieces of the obelisk and angel would enable the careful replication of the work, which was hurled to the ground and smashed during a 1974 tornado. All fragments loaned for this purpose will be handled with care and returned promptly to the lender. Contact: The Association for Tennessee History.
3. NHN: History in Action, March 1998
Approximately $300,000 will be needed to complete the interpretive park that will be the new site for the refurbished Battle of Nashville Peace Monument. The park, located at Granny White Pike and Battlefield Drive, is scheduled to open this summer. Preliminary site preparation has begun, and sculptor Colley Coleman has been producing shop drawings that will determine the proper cutting of the new granite for the Monument. The Tennessee Historical Commission is welcoming donations to the park project.
4. NHN: History in Action, May-June 1999
Giuseppe Moretti’s Battle of Nashville Peace Monument is scheduled to be rededicated on Saturday, June 26, at 10:00 a.m. at the new historical park on Battlefield Drive. The monument, a tribute to those who fought and died in both the Civil War and World War I, was damaged by a 1974 tornado and neglected for years thereafter. The renewed monument is also a tribute to those organizations and individuals who refused to allow it to lie in ruin.
5. NHN: News & Notes, July-August 1999
The restored Battle of Nashville Peace Monument, thought to be the only Civil War monument in the United States to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers, was rededicated on June 26, 1999. The principal speaker for the occasion was venerable Nashvillian Wilbur Foster Creighton Jr., a hearty ninety-two years of age. Ward DeWitt Jr., chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission, appropriately dedicated the Peace Monument to our city’s youth. The now-pristine monument – with its mighty granite base, its bronze sculpture, and its triangular obelisk – rises to thirty feet and is topped with an Angel of Peace. Fittingly located in a new park at Granny White Pike and Battlefield Drive, this memorial could become, we believe, one of the most frequently photographed of all Tennessee outdoor statuary.