Fort W.D. Whipple

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Fort W.D. Whipple (1862-1865) - A U.S. Civil War Fort established in 1862 in present day Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Named Fort W.D. Whipple after Brigadier General William D. Whipple, (Cullum 1524). The fort was abandoned by Union troops in 1865 after the end of the war. Also known as Fort Whipple and Redoubt Donaldson.

Fort W.D. Whipple Plan from the tower Report

History of Fort W.D. Whipple

The beginning of the U.S. Civil War found Nashville under Confederate control with Fort Henry and Fort Donelson providing external protection. With the loss of Fort Henry (6 Feb 1862) and Fort Donelson (16 Feb 1862) the Confederate position in Nashville became untenable and they surrendered the city on 25 Feb 1862.

Union forces occupied the city and turned Nashville into a Union logistics hub for the region. Work on the fortifications for the city began in August 1862 using large numbers of conscripted contrabands (runaway slaves) and free Blacks.

An inspection report dated 25 May 1865 by Brigadier General Zealous B. Tower, (Cullum 1059), Inspector General of Fortifications, Military Division of the Mississippi, included the following: "Redoubt Donaldson (now called W. D. Whipple) is situated midway between Hyde Ferry Fort and Gillem. It is a small battery with seven exterior and two interior embrasures. On the gorge, closed by a stockade, is a little octagonal block-house of ten feet sides, made bomb-proof. This small redoubt, intended for a six-gun field battery, covers the ground between Gillem and Hyde Ferry Fort, and is supported by infantry entrenchments on either side. I devised it for a model battery. The faces from angles of 144 degrees, while the embrasures open 40 degrees, so that the guns on each face can fire parallel to the contiguous capitals. By this arrangement there are no sectors without fire; in fact, the fire on the bisecting line of the angles is equal to that in any other direction. Such batteries, placed at intervals of 600 yards along infantry entrenchments, constitute a good defensive line for inclosing a city. Key points should be occupied by redoubts as large as Hyde Ferry Fort. Within this inclosing line should be built one or more strong redoubts to serve as citadels or keeps to the outer line, and arranged to fire into the gorges of the batteries, which, being simple stockades, would not shelter the enemy should he succeed in acquiring temporary possession. Battery Donaldson, commenced while Hood's army was approaching Nashville, is completed. For its preservation the exterior slopes have been sodded by the soldiers of the field battery stationed near."

The Battle of Nashville

The Battle of Nashville began on 15 Dec 1864 south of the city and away from Fort Negley. Fort Negley reportedly fired the first shot of the battle which pitted the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Lt. General John Bell Hood, (Cullum 1622), against Union forces under Major General George H. Thomas, (Cullum 1028). General Hood had been a student of General Thomas at the United States Military Academy, received instruction in artillery from him. The Union forces prevailed and the Confederates fell back with heavy losses.

Fort W.D. Whipple was abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.

Current Status

No remains and no markers.

Location: Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.17544 Long: -86.80985

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