Seventeen Men: A Fort Negley Exhibit

This year, AAHGS Nashville will be holding our chapter meetings & workshops at Fort Negley, a fortification constructed in Nashville during the Civil War and the largest inland fort built in the United States. Fort Negley was constructed using the labor of more than 2700 black laborers and soldiers.  To prepare for our meetings, our chapter president and I visited the meeting space and I was particularly taken with the current exhibit.

Seventeen Men exhibit at Ft. Negley

In the space is a stunning exhibit of 17 life-sized color pencil drawings by artist, illustrator, and genealogist, Shayne Davidson. Shayne learned about a tiny (2 inches tall) photo album that had been owned by William A. Prickitt, who had been captain of Company G of the 25th United States Colored Troop regiment.

Cover of William A. Prickett’s album

There were 113 men in the unit and Prickett’s album had pictures of 17 of them.  The book is now in the collections of the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Shayne wanted to know more so researched each man in the book to create biographical profiles of them and then created these stunning drawings.

Of the 17 men, 3 had connections to Tennessee; Corporal Solomon Frister settled here in Nashville, Private John Walls settled near Memphis, and Private James Tall was born in Murfreesboro.

Shayne Davidson’s drawing of Corporal Solomon Frister

Frister is buried in Mt. Ararat Cemetery and our AAHGS Nashville friend, Kathy Lauder, featured him in one of the biographical profiles from her Greenwood Cemetery project, a project to document those interred at Nashville’s historic African-American cemetery.

Kathy Lauder bio of Corporal Solomon Frister

The lives of these seventeen men are certainly worth knowing more about.

We hope that you can join us for our March 2nd meeting (ft. the Fort Negley Descendants Project) and not only learn about the work being done to tell the stories of those that worked at Ft. Negley, but also to see this exhibit.

Shayne’s book is available at Amazon, and you can also visit her Facebook page to learn more.

 

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