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Franklin in Williamson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Fort Granger

From Slaves to Free People

 
 
Fort Granger Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, June 17, 2019
1. Fort Granger Marker
Inscription.  After the Union army occupied Franklin, hundreds of enslaved African Americans fled neighboring plantations and farms and headed toward the Federal camps. Some of these self-emancipated former slaves, called “contrabands,” built and maintained much of Fort Granger.

Together with white Union soldiers, African Americans carved out the fort’s deep moat that provided the solid soil to build up the interior and exterior earthen walls. They dug long ditches that contained three-foot-long, finely sharpened stakes angled outward to stop any attack. A report written on March 11, 1863, noted, “Silas N. Jones, Sergeant Co. “C” 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry has been placed in charge of the contrabands at this point. He has now on his roll, able for duty, with pick, axe, and shovel, over 250 names.”

Williamson County slaves also fled to the fortifications in Nashville. According to a newspaper published on April 3, 1863, “We met a large number of 'contrabands' representing both sexes and all ages, from the infant at the breast to the decrepit old man … we learn that they were from Williamson
Fort Granger Marker site image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, June 17, 2019
2. Fort Granger Marker site
The interior of Fort Granger
County, and the vicinity of Franklin. Hundreds of them are daily deserting the service of their owners.”

African Americans’ road to freedom was anything but easy. Many living in camps endured violence, hunger due to food shortages, poor sanitation, and widespread disease including smallpox, which led to numerous deaths. By the spring of 1863, the Franklin contraband camp stood a few hundred yards north of the fort. Contraband camps laid the foundation for postwar African American neighborhoods in Franklin, such as the one along 1st and 2nd Avenues that developed near the former encampments northwest of Fort Granger. Here emancipated African Americans found work in mills, cotton gins, and factories.
 
Erected by Historic Franklin Parks.
 
Location. 35° 55.55′ N, 86° 51.648′ W. Marker is in Franklin, Tennessee, in Williamson County. Marker can be reached from Eddy Lane south of Fort Granger Drive, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Fort Granger Park, Franklin TN 37064, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Fort Granger (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Fort Granger (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Fort Granger
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, June 17, 2019
3. Inset
Contraband camp
(about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Fort Granger (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Granger (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Granger (about 600 feet away); Franklin Cotton Factory and Foundry / Lillie Mills (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Fort Granger (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Franklin.
 
Categories. African AmericansForts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, June 17, 2019
4. Inset
Contrabands crossing river to Union lines
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, June 17, 2019
5. Inset
Location of the contraband camp.
Fort Granger defenses image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, June 17, 2019
6. Fort Granger defenses
Outer and inner walls, with the ditch between.
 

More. Search the internet for Fort Granger.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 14, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 14, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 50 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 14, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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