Fort Dan McCook
Fort Dan McCook (1863-1865) - A Union U.S. Civil War Fort established in 1863 in present day Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. First named Fort Russell Houston after Russell Houston, a Union sympathizer and owner of the land on which the fort was built. Renamed Fort Dan McCook for Brigadier General Dan McCook who was mortally wounded at Kenesaw Mountain and who died 17 Jul 1864. The fort was abandoned by Union troops in 1865 after the end of the war. Also known as Fort McCook.
History of Fort Dan McCook
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.
This fort was planned by Brigadier General James St. Clair Morton, (Cullum 1495), with changes made by Brigadier General Z.B. Tower, (Cullum 1059), U.S. Engineers. Land for the fort was obtained from Russell Houston for whom the fort was first named. Russell Houston was reportedly a Union sympathizer who probably donated the land for the fort with an understanding that it would later be purchased or returned. Houston allowed his home to be blown up to make way for the fort.
Fort Russell Houston was located near Belmont & Broad Streets and was designed to hold over 35 guns providing coverage for the Charlotte Pike.
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: "Fort Houston (now called Fort Dan McCook).-More labor has been expended on this fort than would have been required to build a large bastion work. In November, 1864, it was in a very unfinished condition. It progressed very rapidly for the period of three weeks, by the hands of a large number of workmen, mostly from the quartermaster's department. It was made ready for twenty-six guns at the time of the battles of Nashville, though the polygons were not inclosed. A small force has been employed upon Fort Houston since December last. Nearly all the gabion embrasures have been constructed, and entrances walled, and the works inclosed. Much labor is required to finish it. Its dimensions are so great that a small number of workmen make slow progress upon it. When completed it will mount thirty-five guns for direct fire and ten flanking guns. The original design was very costly, involving independent scarp walls, an immense traverse, and bomb-proof store-houses. All these structures have been omitted in the modified plans. The north polygon, not being inclosed, was reduced in size, to avoid heavy embankments, and the reference of the interior crest dropped. The accompanying sketch will show the magnitude and character of this fortification. The almost unprecedented rains of December, January, February, and March have greatly retarded progress upon all the forts about Nashville."
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.
After the War
Three and one-quarter acres of the original site of the fort was actually purchased from Russell Houston after the war on 21 Aug 1865 and the sale later ratified by act of Congress in 1874. In the same 1874 act the land was to be conveyed to Fisk University for educational purposes with no restriction on the resale of the land. Inexplicably the fort is referred to in all of the documentation for this transaction and in the actual act as Fort Russell Houston not Fort Dan McCook.