Thursday, January 1, 2015

Charles A. Fuller and the Surrender of Nashville.

Researched and written by
Debie Oeser Cox

My friend, Carol Norton, recently sent a message, asking if I could help find a home in the Edgefield section of East Nashville.  Carol had been contacted by Michael Swanson, who was interested in finding the location of the Edgefield residence of Charles A. Fuller.  Carol wrote that Mr. Swanson had information that the surrender of Nashville, by Mayor Richard B. Cheatham, to Union officers, had taken place in Fuller's home. 

It didn't take much searching to discover that it was common knowledge that Mayor Cheatham, had crossed over to Edgefield, to surrender the City of Nashville, to the first command that arrived.  Cheatham was eager to negotiate with the Union army, in order to prevent destruction to the city.  Many published reports state that Cheatham handed over control to General Buell, however the initial surrender seems to have been to Colonel John Kennett.  A few published sources state that the surrender took place at the the home of Charles A. Fuller, an Edgefield resident at the time.

Foster's Map of Davidson County, 1871.

I had few details to begin my search, other than that the surrender took place at the home of Charles A. Fuller in Edgefield.   Looking for Fuller seemed to be the logical path.  The first bit, I found about him, was close at home, on my Nashville History blog.  He is listed in a roster of members of Tennessee Knights Templar.  This roster was transcribed by Kathy Lauder and published on the Nashville History blog with her permission.  Fuller's entry reads:

Printer and Publisher.

Born Springfield, New York, August 25, 1816. Married.
Master Mason, Columbia Lodge 31, January 7, 1842; Royal Arch Mason, Lafayette
Chapter 4, in 1842; Knight Templar, Nashville Commandery I, December 22, 1848.
Filled all the offices in all the subordinate Bodies; was four times Eminent
Commander of Nashville Commandery; was Grand Master, Grand High Priest and
was the first Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Tennessee. From 1852
until his death he was Secretary of all the Grand Bodies. Had received the 33d degree
of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Died June 5, 1868.

Charles A. Fuller, Photo from Library of Congress website.

The obituary (click here) of Charles Fuller can be found on the Nashville City Cemetery website.

Next I began to search for reports of the surrender.  Mayor Cheatham did in fact, cross over to Edgefield, to negotiate the surrender of Nashville with Union officials. As I searched, I found a letter, written by Major H. C. Rodgers, to Colonel John Kennett, giving details of the movement of the Fourth Ohio Volunteer Calvary in late February 1862.  Colonel Kennett and his men were the advance of General Buell's column.   Under the command of Colonel Kennett, soldiers of the Fourth Ohio started toward Nashville.   After arriving at Edgefield Junction, north of, and about eight and one half miles from the city, Colonel Kennett sent a detachment, led by Major Rodgers, on to the village of Edgefield.  Rodgers was to take possession of Edgefield and remain there until Colonel Kennett arrived.  Major Rodgers wrote there was no enemy to be found at Edgefield and that he quickly set up a command.  I later learned that Major H. C. Rodgers was a relative of Michael Swanson's wife.

Of the surrender, Rodgers's reported in his letter, "my command occupied Edgefield, two days before the command of Gen. Nelson arrived; during which time the Mayor of Nashville twice came over to Edgefield, for the purpose of surrendering the city: on his second visit, the city was surrendered.   The mayor, Cheatham, tendering, and Col. Kennett receiving, the surrender. This took place at the residence of Mr. Fuller in Edgefield. Mr. Fuller, myself and some others, whom I do not remember, were present. This occurrence took place the day before Gen Nelson's command arrived."

It appears that soon after the surrender there were reports that Nashville had been captured by General "Bull" Nelson who arrived at Nashville on February 25th.  Rodgers may have been asked to record the events of that time, in order to document the surrender, to Colonel Kennett.  Rodgers' states that "Generals Buell and Mitchell, both, certainly, must have known of the surrender of Nashville before the arrival of Gen Nelson.  I myself brought to them the news of Nelson's arrival...."  Buell is not mentioned as being present in the account of the surrender by Major Rodgers.  

Major Rodgers' letter, from The Scout and Ranger, by James Pike.

Rodgers stated that he arrived at Edgefield "on or about the 25th," and that this was two days before the arrival of Nelson.  He wrote of the surrender that "this occurrence took place the day before" General Nelson arrived.

Most likely Rodgers arrived at Edgefield on the 23rd, and the surrender took place on the 24th of February.  Cheatham met with General Buell in Edgefield on the 25th and it was on this same day that Nelson arrived at Nashville.

The following statement was issued, soon after the surrender, by Mayor Cheatham:

"The committee representing the city authorities and people have discharged their duty by calling on Gen. Buell, at his headquarters, in Edgefield, on yesterday. The interview was satisfactory to the committee, and there is every assurance of safety and protection to the people, both in their persons and property. I therefore respectfully request that business be resumed, and that all our citizens of every trade and profession pursue their regular vocations. The county elections will take place on the regular day, and all civil business will be conducted as heretofore. Commanding Gen. Buell assures me that I can rely upon his aid in enforcing our police regulations. One branch of businesses entirely prohibited, viz., the sale or giving away of intoxicating liquors. I shall not hesitate to invoke the aid of Gen. Buell in case the recent laws upon the subject are violated. I most earnestly call upon the people of the surrounding country, who are inside the Federal lines, to resume their commerce with the city, and bring in their market supplies, especially wood, butter, and eggs, assuring them that they will be fully protected and amply remunerated" . R. B. CHEATHAM, Mayor.

Cheatham gave an affidavit about ten years later in which he stated, "The advance of the United States Army, under the command of Major-General Buell, on the 24th of February, 1862, occupied Edgefield, a town on the right bank of the Cumberland River, opposite Nashville. So soon as such arrangements could possibly be made, by public meeting and otherwise, the mayor and city council were requested to go out and meet the Union Army, inform the commander of the condition of Nashville, and invite him to occupy and protect the city.

The advance, spoken of by Cheatham, was the same force, commanded by Colonel Kennett, and written about in Major Rodger's letter.  Cheatham must have met with Kennett, who would have been the representative of General Buell, and surrendered the city on February 24.
 Cheatham goes on to say, "Accordingly, on the 25th of February, 1862, followed by such members of the city council as could be conveniently convened, with a number of well-known and prominent citizens of the city, I proceeded to the headquarters of the United States Army, in Edgefield, and informed Major General Buell of the object of our visit. Whereupon General Buell expressed his approval and gratification of our proceedings, and also assured us, in the name and as an officer of the United States, that ample protection to both persons and property of all peaceable citizens would be fully extended by the Army of the United States; and he requested me so to inform the people of Nashville."

Satisfied of the probability that the surrender likely did take place as reported by Major Rodgers, the next step was to find out just where Charles Fuller lived.  There are several steps necessary in locating property, the first being a deed search. Davidson County deed records of the 19th century are most easily accessed at the Tennessee State Library and Archives or at the Metro Nashville Archives where the deed records, and indexes, have been transferred to microfilm.  The reverse (buyers) index for the time, showed several transactions by Charles A. Fuller.  One of the purchases was in May of 1858, when Charles Fuller had purchased six lots, numbers 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39, fronting on Woodland Street in Blood's Addition to Edgefield.  The purchase price was eleven thousand dollars. 

Later in 1858, Fuller executed a deed, selling two of the six lots, numbers 38 and 39, to Reverend John B. McFerrin.  In September of 1860, Fuller executed a trust deed, for the remaining four lots 34, 35, 36 and 37, to Robert C. Grier. In return Grier gave to Fuller a cash advance secured by a mortgage, to be held by Grier until the payment of the note was received from Fuller.  The trust deed stated that the residence of Charles A. Fuller in 1860, was on these four lots.   A subsequent deed of release, filed in September of 1865, between Fuller and Grier, concerning lots 34, 35, 36 and 37, stated that the residence of Fuller was on these same four lots in 1865.   This was good fortune.  As Fuller owned so much property, determining where he lived would have proved difficult, without the statement or his residency in the two deeds.

A plat showing the layout of Blood's Addition, gave the location of Fuller's lots as the south side of Woodland Street, between Foster (now South Seventh Street) and Minnick Streets (now South Sixth Street).

Finding a street address for the property proved to be a challenge.  The 1860 census record did not list a street address for Fuller, nor did early city directories.   I continued searching in the deed records and found a deed of sale, for lots, 34, 35, 36 and 37, from Fuller to Henry Plummer, trustee for Mary Plummer.  The deed filed in late 1865, gave the purchase price as nine thousand dollars.  Fuller stated in the deed "this being the same property whereon I lately resided." The street address for the Plummer family was determined after the purchase, through city directory listings, to be 612 Woodland Street.  The Plummer's owned the home at 612 Woodland Street until 1879, when it was sold to John Webber.

Nashville directory listing for Henry Plummer

The home at 612 Woodland, as shown on an 1888 Sanborn Insurance map, occupied lot 37 and part of lot 36.  The building was of wood construction and the front section was two stories while the rest was one story in height.  There appears to be a number of additions to the back part of the house.

Sanborn Insurance Map, Nashville, 1888, NHC and MNA

The home at 612 Woodland as shown on the 1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville.

1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, (Plate 16A) Nashville Public Library

Charles Fuller's old home was destroyed in the Great East Nashville Fire in 1916.  The entire block, on the south side of Woodland, between 6th and 7th, was burned.  John Webber transferred his property at 612 Woodland Street, to the Nashville Board of Park Commissioners, in September of 1916.  The city purchased two blocks bound by Woodland and Russell Streets and by South Sixth and South Eighth Streets after the fire. The burned structures were removed and Edgefield Park (now East Park) was established on there.  The site of Charles Fuller's home is now in East Park, just across from 613 Woodland Street. 

2014 - Location of what was once 612 Woodland Street.

And finally in September of 2016 we have a marker!
Photo by Carol Norton, September 17, 2016.

Pike, James. The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry (Cincinnati, OH: J. R. Hawley & Co.), 1865.

Tenney, William Jewett.  The Military and Naval History of the Rebellion in the United States (New York, NY: D. Appleton & Co.), 1866.

Greeley, Horace. The American Conflict: A History of the Great Rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'65, Volume 2. (Hartford, O. D. Case & Co.), 1867.

Wulsin, Lucien. The story of the Fourth Regiment Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry (Cincinnati, OH), 1912.

United States of America. Congressional Series of United States Public Documents, Volume 1627 (Washington, Government Printing Office,) 1874.

Sanborn Map Company.  Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. (Sanborn Map Company), 1888.

 Hopkins, G. M. & Co. Atlas of the City of Nashville, Tennessee: From Official Records, Private Plans and Actual Survey. (Nashville, TN: G. M. Hopkins & Co.), 1908.

Tennessee. Davidson County. Register of Deeds. Property Deed Records.

Tennessee, Nashville City Directories.

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Charles A. Fuller and the Surrender of Nashville. by Debie Oeser Cox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.