Metro Historical Commission plans to honor black soldiers with new historical marker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — This December will mark the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Nashville.

The two-day fighting marked a turning point in the civil war. Now, the Metro Historical Commission wants to shine a light on the black soldiers who helped make that possible.

The Metro Historical Commission continues its efforts to honor America’s Colored Troops.
Two years ago, a marker was placed on Harding Place dedicated to the two days of the Battle of Nashville. Now, another marker highlighting the Battle of Peach Orchard Hill, where United States Colored Troops (USCT) helped fight and win for the Union against the Confederacy, is set to be erected on Harding Pike, south of Battery Lane/Harding Place and expand the history of the USCT’s contributions.

“A large portion of the American soldiers who fought at Peach Orchard Hill were United States Colored Troops, USCT,” said Jessica Reeves, historic preservation specialist at the Metro Historical Commission. “Sometimes we just find new sources, we find new, new information, and so it’s not that the old markers are necessarily incorrect, they just don’t tell the fullest, most complete story anymore possible.”

This week, the marker commission approved the text of the marker and on Monday, May 20, the historical commission will vote on it.

(Source: Metro Historical Commission)

Gary Burke, a descendant of a USCT soldier who fought, is helping to lead this effort.

“These men fought for two days and were forgotten by many pages of history. So when I discovered that I was the descendant of one of these soldiers, I made a passionate appeal to m “involved in ensuring that a marker was dedicated,” said Burke, who also helped put the first marker in place in 2022 after learning of its legacy.

(Photo: WKRN)

“I discovered all this after my father died. I felt some documents when he passed away from the War Department, and on the back of one of those documents that said my grandmother was receiving a Civil War pension. That’s how I knew I had a direct connection,” Burke told News 2.

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If the text is approved, it will be commissioned with the hope of arriving before the 160th anniversary on December 16. Burke hopes the marker will serve to preserve history.

“No matter what set of circumstances surround it, it is important to know that African American men took up the gun and fought for their freedoms, for their generation and for generations to come,” Burke said.

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