The city of Nashville was the 8th largest city in the Confederate states in 1860, boasting almost 17,000 citizens.
Harper’s Weekly writes:
[Nashville] is, as every body knows, the capital of Tennessee, and is a fine city of about 20,000 inhabitants, situated on the Cumberland River.—Two bridges, a railroad bridge (M’Callumtruss), and an iron suspension bridge, span the river opposite to the city. Nashville stands on a bluff on the south side of the river. It is surrounded by hills, which command it, and render its defense extremely difficult against an army approaching from various points. The large building of which we give a picture herewith is the CAPITOL OF TENNESSEE, a new and handsome structure.
Text from the March 8, 1862 Harper’s Weekly edition stated:
The commerce of Nashville is very large, being carried on by river and railroads, and by turnpike roads, to the construction of which the city has devoted a great deal of attention. The revenue of the port amounts to about $40,000 per annum; but the Government has not yet erected a Custom-house in the city. The average annual shipments are—30,000 bales of cotton, 6000 hogsheads of tobacco, 2,000,000 bushels of wheat, 6,000,000 bushels of Indian corn, 10,000 casks of bacon, 25,000 hogs, and 2500 tierces of lard.
The neighborhood of Nashville is a famous stock-raising country, and has a high reputation for blood-horses, jackasses, mules, cattle, sheep, hogs, and Cashmere goats. The leading business of the city is in dry goods, hardware, drugs, and groceries. Book publishing is carried on more extensively than in any other Western town, and the publishing house of the Southern Methodist Conference is one of the largest book manufactories in the United States. The manufactures are lees important than the commercial interests. There are three flour mills, eight or ten planing mills, and eight or ten machine shops. The value of the taxable property here is $15,000,000. Seven miles from the city is the State Lunatic Asylum, and twelve miles east is the Hermitage, the celebrated residence of Andrew Jackson. The municipal government is vested in a mayor, eight aldermen, and sixteen councilmen. The first permanent settlement was made in 1778-’80; the town was incorporated in 1784, received its charter in 1806, and was made the State capital in 1812. Nashville is 280 miles northeast of Memphis, 206 miles southwest of Lexington in Kentucky, and 684 miles from Washington city.
At the hour we close this record the telegraph reports that the gun-boats and General Buell reached Nashville late last week, and that the city surrendered.
“The rebels evacuated Bowling and Nashville like a flock of sheep chased with dogs. They burn bridges and destroy property and then run like the devil.”
– Sgt. Michael S. Bright, 77th PA