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HomeNewsClarksville's Fort Defiance Civil War Park holds Surrender of Clarksville commemoration

Clarksville’s Fort Defiance Civil War Park holds Surrender of Clarksville commemoration

Clarksville Parks and Recreation DepartmentClarksville, TN – Clarksville’s Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center recently welcomed hundreds for its annual commemoration of the Surrender of Clarksville.

The surrender of Fort Defiance and the City of Clarksville took place on February 19th, 1862. The Interpretive Center’s William Parker kicked off Saturday’s activities by sharing information with visitors about the events surrounding the surrender.

The crowd was gathered around a working cannon that had been brought in just for the commemoration. A team, dressed in Civil War-era clothing were about to fire the cannon in the first demonstration of the day.

After welcoming everyone, Parker shared some knowledge about what it must have been like in Clarksville in 1862, and why the fall of Fort Defiance, at that time known as Fort Sevier, was so important.

He then read a Proclamation made by Andrew H. Foote, a Flag Officer of the U.S. Flag Steamer “Conestoga”, a Union ship that was anchored in the river below.

The proclamation, which was read on February 20th, 1862, mentioned Foote’s prior day’s discussion with local leaders, the Honorable Cave Johnson, a former County Judge – Thomas Wisdom, and then Clarksville Mayor George Smith

“They called upon me yesterday, after our hoisting of the Union flag, and taking possession of the forts, to ascertain my views and intentions towards the citizens and private property, I hereby announce to all peaceably-disposed persons, that neither in their persons nor in their property shall they suffer molestation by me or the naval force under by command, and that they may in safety resume their business avocations with the assurance of my protection.“

Next, a team, under the direction of Gunner Gary Libano, fired the cannon. Team member Jimmy Steppee then explained the process. After Steppee’s comments, the entire team answered visitors’ questions. The cannon was fired every hour, on the hour, throughout the day.

Another popular demonstration was the firing of muskets. A squad of 5 or 6, led by Drew Scholes would fire 2 or 3 volleys. That took place several times throughout the day as well.

Sylvia Britton, an interpreter at Fort Defiance, talked about the day’s activities.

“We’re here to commemorate the surrender of Fort Defiance and the City of Clarksville,” Britton said. “We’ve already checked in over 220 people. Today, we’re doing live firings of the cannon, and the muskets.

“We have a lady representing the Ladies’ Aid Society, and explaining what that group did during the Civil War. George Wallace is displaying Civil War era weapons. Mark Britton has a display of Civil War medicine and medical equipment. Mike Connell is sharing an example of a soldier’s box, and talking about the personal items that would have been sent to the soldiers by their loved-ones.

“Outside, Michael Gatley is talking about the Union infantry experience, their clothes, food and equipment. And, Roxanne Jenkins is hosting a lady’s tea. She is leading a group of women who are talking about the surrender, and the effects it had on individual households. There is a lot of our visitors to do and see today.”

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About Fort Defiance

Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive CenterThe Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center is operated by the Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department.

Fort Defiance, which overlooks the confluence of the Red and Cumberland Rivers, was a cornerstone of the Confederate defense of the area and an important part of the eventual Union occupation of Clarksville.  In 1982, Judge and Mrs. Sam Boaz, donated the property to the City of Clarksville.

In 2008, the City secured a $2.2 million federal grant that was combined with local funding and the process of construction of the interpretive center and walking trails began. The more than 1,500-square-foot Center features exhibits about the local area and the fort during the Civil War.

Fort Defiance Interpretive Center is open Monday-Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday, 1:00pm to 4:00pm during the Spring and Summer.

It is located at 120 Duncan Street, Clarksville, TN.

For more information call 931.472.3351 or visit www.fortdefianceclarksville.com


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