1863 Fortifications Survive In Area Of Tennessee
Ripe For Development

By Gregory L. Wade
(June 2012 Civil War News)

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TRIUNE, Tenn. — Wooded acres holding relatively unknown Civil War fortifications, some of “the best anywhere,” survive about 20 miles southeast of Nashville.

Tennessee Wars Commission Director Fred Prouty, who made the comment above, recently led historians, preservationists and land owners on a tour of the Triune earthworks sponsored by his commission and the Franklin’s Charge preservation group. The aim was to create interest in preserving the works.

The Triune fortifications, which have no other common name, make up roughly 100 acres in a largely rural area. This acreage does not include adjacent areas that have not really been cataloged, according to Prouty.

While no major battles took place in the immediate area, he emphasized the ground was “hallowed” because men lost their lives to skirmishing and disease.

Franklin’s Charge Julian Bibb spoke about the importance of finding creative ways to protect the earthworks. They are in an area seen as increasingly attractive for housing and could be in danger.

Bibb said, “It starts with local groups and concerned landowners to find solutions that benefit everyone.”

At least seven owners hold the property, Prouty said. Some have indicated a desire to “brainstorm” about the land’s future. Owners Sharon Puckett and her husband Ed Wittenberg joined the group on the hike across pastures, fence rows and briar thickets.

“I am a Civil War novice but find the all of this history right under my nose fascinating,” Puckett said.

The extensive complex of artillery redoubts and connecting trench lines, built in the spring of 1863 by Federal engineers, is hidden by woods from people who pass on nearby state highways.

The tour group was able to get a sense of the area’s size and the complexity of the structure, but overgrowth made it difficult to see some key areas which include powder magazines. Prouty said while there are old photos of the town, “amazingly, I have not come up with a known photo of these earthworks during the war.” 

The small hamlet of Triune rests on a rise along what was a strategically important crossroads. With north to south Nolensville Pike on the fort’s western boundary and the east to west Franklin to Murfreesboro Pike on the south, the works guarded a main supply and defensive position protecting the southern approaches to Nashville and east to Murfreesboro.

Before the war Triune was a wealthy community and leading slave-holding area with four private schools, several general stores, a newspaper and many large plantation houses. Much of the town was burned in 1863. It recently has begun to see growth as a Nashville bedroom community.

There were numerous skirmishes in the area including a June 1863 fight in which Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest’s artillery put a cannon ball through the roof of Federal commander Gen. Gordon Granger’s headquarters.

“Whether it was a lucky shot or not, it really got Granger fired up,“ Prouty said. “He then ordered the infantry to fall out in line of combat.”

 “This is truly a treasure,” said land owner Ginger Shirling. “It is good people are beginning to realize what we have here in Triune.”