So I decided to return to college… I’m attending MTSU and during this first semester am having a profound experience taking in the information from my United States History class. We were given an opportunity to complete an extra credit assignment that consisted of visiting a historical site applicable to the period in history that we were studying, then writing a two page paper about it while including photos of the visit and for kicks, I figured why not post my submission as a blog…
I chose to visit Shy’s Hill, a geographical mound significant for its involvement in the Civil War Battle of Nashville. On the second day of the battle, December 16, 1864, the Union forces defeated the left flank of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, which was anchored high on this mound later named for a Confederate colonel killed during the assault. As a result of the Federal victory, the Confederate line collapsed; the Rebels were completely defeated, and the Army of Tennessee was all but destroyed. The location is highly significant because Nashville was the last major battle of the war in Tennessee. Newspapers in the North, where presses were still running without interruption, received the news reasonably quickly, within days if not weeks, of the battle; news in the South, however, was delayed by weeks or months, per information gathered from the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society.
I chose this site because it is one of my favorite places in Nashville. With my husband and two daughters in tow, I trekked through the fallen leaves and wandered up one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets. It’s very easy to mind travel to the 19th century and contemplate the historical significance of the site thanks to the beauty and peace abounding at Shy’s Hill. The incline and three-foot-wide pathway exist thanks to a preservation effort completed in February 2014 by Parke Brown and his professional landscaping crew, The Parke Company, Inc. The preservation was completed in time for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the battle, and the accomplished work offers an excellent opportunity to take in some exercise and an expansive view of the Green Hills area. It is a quiet and relaxing place, despite the tragedy and loss of life that previously blanketed its roots and divots. There are historical markers, cannons, flags, and benches on the premises that give a bit of background and perspective on the location and the battle.
I highly recommend taking an afternoon, right before sunset or early in the morning around sunrise, and visiting the site. Wear sturdy shoes, as the steep hill will really put into perspective the difficulty that the Civil War soldiers must have encountered while navigating terrain and preparing for battle. It’s hard to imagine such a barbaric loss of life taking place, quite literally, in people’s back yards, but such is the case with history and the mysteries that it allows us to ponder.
Unfortunately, it looks as though the preservation could use a little bit of upkeep and maybe some mulch since it doesn’t seem that much has been done to the landscaping in the last few years. In addition, as much as I would love to recommend Shy’s Hill to tourists and other individuals interested in Tennessee history or the Civil War, I kind of don’t want to jeopardize the serenity and exclusivity that the centrally located and private, despite public, bit of earth that affords my family an opportunity to take in some fresh air.
Shy’s Hill is located on Benton Smith Road between Burton Valley Road and Harding Place in Nashville, Tennessee. To learn more visit the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society website here.