11 March 2007 by Published in: General musings 19 comments

Well, we’re home. I’m exhausted, but it was a great trip. I will post specifics and photographs from this morning’s battlefield tour at Franklin tomorrow, so please be patient.

I made it through the entire winter without so much as a sniffle….until last Thursday. In another sterling example of the truth of Murphy’s Law, I woke up on Thursday realizing that I was coming down with a head cold, and by the time we reached Nashville on Friday, it was full blown, and it was a bad one, even with using Zicam. Traditionally, I never sleep well the first night of a cold, because I can’t breathe. Likewise, I almost never sleep well in beds that I’m not familiar with, such as hotel beds. This made for a deadly combination on Friday night. I’d be surprised if I got more than a couple of hours worth of sleep. I feel crappy and totally worn out as I write this. I’m going to try to get to bed early.

Friday: We dropped off the dogs at the boarding place, came home to trade cars, and off we went. We made it to Nashville in 6:15, including lunch and other stops. We got there at 4:00 local time. Dave Powell had tipped me off to look for the monument of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Brentwood, and I kept a close eye out for it as we headed south on I-65. Sure enough, there it was. The Military Order of the Stars and Bars, an organization made up of male descendants of commissioned Confederate officers, has erected a 35 foot tall monument of a mounted Forrest right alongside the freeway. This thing has to be THE worst Civil War monument ever. Forrest looks like an action figure of some cartoon character. It doesn’t even look like him. To call the thing hideous is being incredibly kind to it. It’s so ugly, in fact, that I didn’t see a reason to endanger us by stopping to try to take a photo of it. I can’t imagine why someone would have paid for this horrific thing to have been erected, but there it is….

We checked into our hotel and then headed out. We stayed in Brentwood, which is a lovely and very affluent suburb of Nashville. The hotel is apparently on the southern edge of the Nashville battlefield. We went and found Traveller’s Rest Plantation, where the conference was to be held, and then, upon a recommendation from old friend Greg Biggs, decided to head down toward Franklin to look for dinner.

It was nearly 80 degrees there when we got there, so we put the top down on the convertible, and off we went. There are absolutely immense McMansions lining the Franklin Pike. I’m told one of the largest belongs to country singer Billy Ray Cyrus of Empty Hollow Head….oops, Achy Breaky Heart….fame. We drove down to Franklin, explored a bit–we found the Carter House–and then had a superb dinner at a local restaurant called Sandy’s Downtown Grille. We headed back up to Brentwood, stopped at the local Border’s store, and then called it a night.

Saturday was conference day. We went up to Traveller’s Rest and spent the day in the conference. There were fifty-one participants in the conference, including a couple of regular readers of this blog. Myers Brown gave a good talk on Joe Wheeler, and then Brian Steel Wills gave a talk on Forrest. Brian is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met–he easily could have been a standup comic instead of a historian. Greg gave a good talk on the June 27, 1863 Battle of Shelbyville (part of Rosecrans’ Tullahoma Campaign) over lunch. Traveller’s Rest was opened for us to tour. The house served as John Bell Hood’s headquarters for two weeks prior to the Battle of Nashville, and it has lots of history. There is an autograph book there that was owned by a resident signed by every Confederate general, and it’s a special thing. This is the first time I’ve seen Bedford Forrest’s signature, as one example.

I struggled through my talk. First, I had little confidence in my presentation, as Union cavalry operations in the Western Theater are definitely not my strong point. I also had a major head full of garbage due to the bad cold, I hadn’t slept, and it was really a challenge just to get through it. I managed to make it through and did okay; I tried to inject some levity, and the crowd seemed to like the presentation. The final segment of the program was a panel discussion, I sold some books, and then we were out of there. Before leaving, Susan and I changed clothes, and I shifted into hockey fan mode, including my Blue Jackets jersey.

We had dinner at Jack’s Famous Barbeque on Broadway (great food; I highly recommend it) and then went to the game. The Preds won 2-1 in a nip and tuck battle. The arena is interesting–it’s very different (and smaller) than our arena here, Nationwide Arena. We’re required to behave ourselves. Before every game, they warn us about not using profanity, etc. This is not the case in Nashville. When the visiting players are introduced one at a time, the crowd yells “SUCKS” in unison after each player’s name is called. Then, when the visiting coach is announced, they yell, “AND HE SUCKS TOO!”. Any time a Predators player gets called for a penalty, the announcer tells who the penalty was on, what the call was, and then says, “The Blue Jackets are on the power play”, and the crowd responds with “AND THEY STILL SUCK!” I thought it was hilarious. This would never, ever fly in Columbus. The owner of the team would stroke out if something like that happened. Also, since it’s Music City in Nashville, it came as no shock when a live rock band played between periods of the game, and they were good. Best of all, they didn’t play country music, which Susan and I both despise. Surprisingly, there were a quite a few Blue Jackets’ fans there, and we were treated politely. I guess we couldn’t hope for much more than that. I just wish the CBJ had won. Ah, well. But for feeling really crappy, it was a nearly perfect day.

This morning, we visited the Franklin battlefield (again, details on this will follow tomorrow), and we headed for home at noon local time. It was 6:15 driving time again, and we got home just in time to go pick up the dogs before the boarding place closed for the night. I’m not sure who’s more tired–the dogs or me. I know that I’m absolutely exhausted. The weather was beautiful today, even if a bit cooler, and we had the top down on the Bug for about half of the day. We did get to take a picture of my all-time favorite roadside sign. Midway through Kentucky, along I-65 northbound, is a sign that says “USED COWS FOR SALE”. It cracks me up every time I see it (and I’ve now seen it four times). Susan will post it tomorrow, once the pictures have been downloaded from the digital camera. She made the comment that she’d only be interested in buying used cows if they’ve already been factory reconditioned. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nevertheless, it was a terrific weekend, and it whet my appetite to go back and get a tour of the Nashville and Stones River battlefields. I think we’re going to try to do that this fall.

Scridb filter


  1. Steve Basic
    Sun 11th Mar 2007 at 10:31 pm


    Glad you both arrived home safe and sound. Sounds like a fine weekend, and did watch parts of the game here last night.

    Am heading out that way in June for our annual Chat room muster, which will be focused on Spring Hill and Franklin. We just concluded a book chat on Eric Jacobson’s fine history of the campaign this evening, and has whetted the appetite for the visit out there in June.

    As for the Sucks routine at hockey games, here in NY at Rangers games, every home game features the inevitable Potvin Sucks chants. This goes back to the 1978-79 season, and continues to this day. I guess it is safe to say that Rangers fans hold a grudge forever. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As to “Used Cows For Sale”, the closest I can come up with was when while driving with Shotgun at our muster in the Fredericksburg area, we saw a “Free Manure” sign. ๐Ÿ™‚ IIRC, J.D., Shotgun, and our friend Mike and myself got into a discussion about what would be the fair price for buying manure. I don’t think we ever found a solution to that most pressing dilemma. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I guess it happens.:)

    Welcome home, and hope you feel better.

    Regards from the Garden State,


  2. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 12:16 am


    To call the Forrest homage an “ugly statue” is to gravely insult ugly statues everywhere. It may just be the most gawd-awful piece of public art I’ve ever seen.

    However, it seems unfair to saddle the Military Order of the Stars and Bars with credit/blame for it, since everything I’ve seen indicates it’s a project of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp in that area. Those two organizations have moved apart over the last few years (much to the credit of the MOS&B).


  3. Dave Powell
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 7:50 am

    I love that Forrest Statue. It is so Hideous I take people out of our way to see it. I will be taking a new group past it on thursday, headed for Chickamauga.

    Glad you got to see it.

    I have seen the “used Cows” sign many times, BTW. Lots of trips up and down I-65.

    Dave Powell

  4. Dave Powell
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 8:07 am


    I don’t know what your current email address is, BTW. Can you contact me?


  5. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 8:10 am


    If you like Jacobson’s book, just wait. I had a lengthy discussion with David Fraley about doing a volume on Franklin for our Discovering Civil War America Series, and he’s game. I have Jacobson’s book, and I have found it difficult to read.


  6. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 8:13 am


    Thanks for setting me straight on that.

    As you so, it’s the most hideous piece of public art I have ever seen. It makes the field of concrete corncobs in Dublin, OH look magnificent, and that takes some doing. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 8:13 am


    It’s a “can’t miss”. Thanks for tipping me off about it.


  8. James Epperson
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 8:50 am

    Eric, the local Confederati are not only proud of that statue, they
    regard it as a semi-holy shrine. I regard it as a hazard to safe
    driving along I-65…

  9. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 9:34 am


    I can see why.


  10. Scott Mingus
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 4:11 pm

    For many years not far from my in-laws’ house in Zanesville, Ohio, was a company that advertised “Cow Rentals.” Apparently Rent-a-Cow did not go over big, and the company eventually folded. I wonder if the farmers had the same attitude towards these cows that I have towards Hertz cars: “It’s a rental.”

  11. Michael Aubrecht
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Is NBF actually sticking his tounge out?

    (I have never seen a CW sculpture like this before. I’m… speechless.)

  12. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 4:40 pm


    Horrific, isn’t it?ร‚ย  That bad boy’s got to make it into your book, friend.ร‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚


  13. Dave Powell
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 5:03 pm

    To be fair, the locals I’ve met don’t seem to like it much, and don’t go out of their way to recommend it to visitors. I feel it is my duty to make mention of it to those who might be traveling that way, just so they can take note.

    Was it sunny when you saw the Statue, Eric? Was is gleaming appropriately?

    Dave Powell

  14. Ray Todd Knight
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Ya know… I think you might be allergic to TN. I believe when you visited Clarksville last year you got sick also. I really enjoyed your talk and the entire day at Traveller’s Rest. Sorry I ducked out without saying goodbye but I got a phonecall right at 4:00 and by the time I got off the phone I realized at was about a quarter after and I had made plans to meet some people at 4:30. It was good to see you again and to meet Susan.
    Btw… I think they raised the speed limit to 70 on I-65 just so folks would pass that statue too fast to realize what it was.

  15. Karel Lea
    Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Well I for one truly enjoyed your talk…I think it should be subtitled “Retreads of War” or something equally pithy..just the right amount of levity.

    And that statue is beyond horrific. I shudder everytime I see it, and actually try to make a point of looking straight ahead when I’m driving that stretch of I-65.

    Thanks for the Preds carflags…they’re being put to good bribery use with my students…and Taylor, the kid you met, said she thought it was awful nice we let you come to game with us, since you were in a Bluejacket jersey…

    But hey, we’re friendly down here in TN…I’m gonna go have me some sweet tea and dream about Stanley Cup possibilities.

  16. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 7:54 pm


    I get sick in the spring. That’s just a fact of life. ๐Ÿ™

    It was good to see you again, and I certainly understand when duty calls.

    Good idea on that speed limit increase. ๐Ÿ™‚


  17. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 7:54 pm


    It was. We got the full effect. ๐Ÿ™‚


  18. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 7:55 pm


    We had a great time with you guys. Go enjoy the tea and the Stanley Cup dreams. We certainly don’t have those here….


  19. Mon 12th Mar 2007 at 10:46 pm


    I looked at the corncobs, and they’re actually just endearingly weird, not frighteningly ugly like poor NBF. Or maybe that’s just the effect of my years spent living in the corn belt of the Midwest…


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