Fighting for Freedom

Fighting for Freedom (HM1B15)

Location: Charlotte, TN 37036 Dickson County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 12.616', W 87° 19.886'

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Promise Land Civil War Heroes

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, authorized the recruiting of African Americans as United States soldiers. It inspired men, like brothers John and Arch Nesbitt, to join the U.S. Colored Troops and fight for their freedom. John Nesbitt enlisted on October 5, 1863, as a private in Co. H, 4th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment. He served in Kentucky, Tennessee, and finally Arkansas, where he was discharged on February 25, 1866. Arch Nesbitt enlisted on August 24, 1864, in Co. G, 12th U.S. Colored Infantry, and in December fought in the Battle of Nashville. The regiment then guarded the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, which passed through the southern end of Dickson County and crossed the Tennessee River at Johnsonville. Nesbitt was honorably discharged on January 16, 1866.

At the end of the war, the Nesbitt brothers joined other newly freed black men, women and children in this community know as Promise Land, close to the farms where they had once labored as slaves. Suffering from service-related injuries, John Nesbitt tried for years to secure disability compensation from the War Department. In 1880, he received a pension retroactively, and he used some of the money to buy the land here, including the site on which Promise Land School was erected early in the 1880s. The community supported the school until 1899, when John and Ellen Clemmons Nesbitt deeded it to the Dickson County School system. It served as a public elementary school until it closed in May 1956.

"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters U.S., let him get and eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States." —Frederick Douglas

Tennessee Colored Battery camp, Johnsonville, Tenn., 1864 - Courtesy Library of Congress
Cabin Kids Choral Group, Promise Land School (1938-39). Seated left to right: Oris Lee Bowen, Cindy Jones, Aline Edmondson, Thomas Nesbitt, Beulah Edmonson. Back row standing; Charles Edmonson, Norma Nesbitt, Betty Ruth Collier, Alma Lee Edmondson, Prof. J.O. Dixon, teacher. Courtesy William Bowen, Sr.
U.S. Colored Troops being mustered out at Little Rock, Ark., 1866 — Courtesy Library of Congress
HM NumberHM1B15
Series This marker is part of the Tennessee: Tennessee Civil War Trails series
Placed ByTennessee Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 1:07am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 470208 N 4007321
Decimal Degrees36.21026667, -87.33143333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 12.616', W 87° 19.886'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 12' 36.96" N, 87° 19' 53.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)615
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 795 Promise Land Rd, Charlotte TN 37036, US
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