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Friends of Fort Defiance’s March into the Past provides a look into yesteryear at the historic Civil War site


Friends of Fort DefianceClarksville, TN – The Friends of Fort Defiance held their annual March to the Past fundraiser at the Fort Defiance Interpretive Center at the historic Civil War site in the New Providence area of Clarksville Tennessee on Saturday June 14th.

William Parker of the Clarksville Department of Parks and Recreation who serves as the historical interpreter for Fort Defiance and the director of the Visitor Center appreciates their actions on behalf of the site. “The Friends of Fort Defiance of been in existence for much longer than the visitor center has been here,” he said. “It’s probably been 20 years that they have been around and each year they hold their March into the Past fund-raising event.”

Porter's Battery fires one of their canons at the March to the Past event

Porter’s Battery fires one of their canons at the March to the Past event

The Friends of Fort Defiance help raise money to enhance the historical site, as well as working to bring awareness to the site. “You can literally say that without the Friends of Fort Defiance and their efforts during the 1990s, this place would of just about been forgotten up here. But they carried the torch all the way through to the visitor center’s opening up here!” said Parker.

The day featured cannon firings, every half-hour with two artillery pieces, manned by Jimmy Steppe and the folks from Porter’s Batter. A Civil War medical display put together by Mark Britton. Charles “Chappy” Morrison, who serves as the chaplain for Porter’s battery was also on hand.

The Porter's Battery Encampment

The Porter’s Battery Encampment

“It feels pretty good being here at March to the Past at Fort Defiance Visitors Center,” said Capt. Jimmy Steppe. “We are out here doing what our ancestors did.  This event is an opportunity to go back in time to the Civil War, and pay honor to our ancestors. They sacrificed a lot, and they lived it rough.”

He continued, “It gives us a chance to let Clarksville know what happened in the past, support the park here, and also a chance to burn some powder”

Beans were on the menu for lunch for Porter's Battery

Beans were on the menu for lunch for Porter’s Battery

The original Porter’s battery was formed in Nashville in 1861, about where the capital is at the Bicentennial Mall. There was a camp of instructions in that area. According to Steppe. “When they first formed it they didn’t have the men to do it but they had the guns, so they recruited some members out of the 3rd and 18th Tennessee infantry and formed a battery. Capt. Porter was originally in the U.S. Navy, he resigned his commission joined the Army and was made a Captain of Artillery. After their training was completed with they were sent to Bowling Green, then down to Nashville, and on to Fort Donelson. Where they fought in the battle there.”

The fact that the original battery fought at Fort Donelson was one of the reasons behind the selection of Porter’s battery as the inspiration for the unit.

“We’ve got five guns and about 50 people,” Steppe said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get them all out at once. Today (around noon), we’ve had about 150 spectators come out. They love love it! The cannons always draw a crowd!”

Mark Britton talks to Rebecca Hines about his civil war medicine display at the Friends of Fort Defiance's March to the Past

Mark Britton talks to Rebecca Hines about his civil war medicine display at the Friends of Fort Defiance’s March to the Past

I caught up with Mark Britton when he did a Civil War medicine display at the four on May 24th. He gave me a guided tour of all of his collection of Civil War era artifacts so you can listen to him as he talks about his collection.


The Friends of Fort Defiance were on hand here providing food and drinks to the visitors for a small donation which goes to fund the groups activities at the historic site.

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About the Friends of Fort Defiance

Friends of Fort DefianceThe Friends of Fort Defiance seek to preserve our history and heritage for future generations. They meet on the second Tuesday of every month at the Pardue Memorial Free Will Baptist Church, at 6:30pm across from Moss’ Cafe on Memorial Drive. They welcome anyone who is interested in promoting Clarksville’s Civil War past and preserving and improving Fort Defiance.

Membership dues are:

  • $15.00 per year for individuals
  • $25.00 for families
  • $100.00 for a corporate membership

For more information please contact Roger A. Tenney or any Friends of Ft. Defiance Board Member.

About Bill Larson


Arts and Leisure


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