Paula K. Parker: Millennium Harper of the Memory of America's Civil War, 2002


Paula K. Parker is Millennium Harper of The Memory of America's Civil War

From: "paula k parker" Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 23:15:25 -0500 Subject: [MillenniumHarpers] Gigs #21-31. Whew!

I'm going to try to list all the places I played yesterday. First, I need to correct yesterday's email. I played at 11 spots, making my total 31 not 35. Chalk the mathematical error up to fatigue and hunger.

It was a cloudy day with temps feeling like mid 90s - very humid. Armed with a handful of historical maps and brochures and a one-use camera (mine is broken), Mike (hubby) and I loaded my Heather harp into the van and began the last leg of my quest. We were able to find a bunch of historic markers, visit several homes, and one cemetery.

Tennessee was second after Virginia (which I hope to visit one day, John), in the number of battles fought during the Civil War. Due to its proximity to the railroads and the river-system, Nashville was considered an important city for both sides. Without going into detail, by early 1861, the state was in Federal hands. Over the next 4 years, the Confederates would attempt several more times to retake it.

21. The Battle of Nashville took place in December 1864 and ranged over a large portion of the city. My first stop was at one of the historic markers on Granny White Pike. It marked the Confederate position of Stewart's Corp on Dec. 16th. The frustrating thing about most of these markers is that they line roads that have no convenient place to stop. Mike pulled around the corner and parked on the shoulder. I settled on a comfortable mound of grass to play while Mike took pictures. Several people drove by to point and wave, but none stopped.

22. Another spot from the Battle of Nashville further up Granny White. This historic marker designated the point where the Federal troops broke through the Confederate lines. Apparently the Confederates didn't take a hill into account when setting up their lines; the Federal troops were nearly upon them before anyone knew. This marker was also on the side of the road with no safe place to sit under it. So, we pulled into the parking lot of a Montessori school across from it. I sat down near the road and Mike was able to take a picture of me, harp, and marker (across the road). Again, people slowed down to look, but no one stopped. :(

23. We drove over to Franklin Pike and found another marker for the spot where Confederate General Hood stopped to organize his retreat after the battle on the evening of December 16th. This marker was in a better spot - the parking lot of a medical building. More people drove by and waved - I guess it is not that uncommon in Music City to see people carrying instruments around town.

One confirmation of this is that we stopped by a Borders Book store so Mike could look for a particular book. As I wasn't going to leave my harp in the van, I carried her inside the store. I passed so many people, looked them in the eye, and said,'hello.' Not one asked about the harp. ?!?!

24. This next historical marker was not part of the Battle of Nashville. It was the place where Confederate General Forrest raided a Federal camp in Brentwood, on March 24, 1863. He captured the encampment with the loss of one man and only a few injuries; quite unusual for the Civil War. I sat near the marker and played under the shade of several trees.

25. The next marker was where General Stephen Lee (don't know if he was related to Robert E.) and his cavalry covered the defeated Confederate troops as they made their way through the night of December 16th to Spring Hill where they finally stopped to bivouac.

26. We drove into Franklin (south of Nashville). The Battle of Franklin was part of General Hood's plan to drive the Federals out of Middle Tennessee. He started in Spring Hill (even further south), then moved into Franklin, and then into Nashville. The Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864 cost the Confederacy dearly. In 5 hours, they sustained 7,000 casualties, with 1,750 dead, including 6 generals. The marker I played near was where the Federal troops assaulted the Confederate troops in the city.

27. Fort Granger was one of the few skirmishes that the Confederates actually won during the Battle of Franklin. However, it was re-occupied after the Confederates retreated. It was getting late and there were few people around.

28. The Carter House was at the center of the Battle of Franklin, during which it was used as a Federal command post. It is a small, plain house near a school. There were a couple of children who watched me play, but were too shy to do more than listen.

29. The Lotz House is near the Carter House and the Lotz family hid there with the Carters during the Battle of Franklin. I noticed a 'for sale' sign on it; what I wouldn't give to be able to buy it!

30. Wounded Confederate soldiers from the Battle of Franklin were taken to Carnton Plantation, which acted as a makeshift hospital. The house is a beautiful while palatial home. Strangely enough, there is a country club next to the Plantation and many people were leaving the swimming pool. Several people mentioned my harp and commente on the music.

31. The Confederate Cemetery near Carnton holds the remains of 1500 Confederate soldiers, most of these men had died at the Battle of Franklin or had survived the battle and later requested to be buried with their comrades. The graves were laid out according to the states they had come from. It was a solemn place, with so many cement markers that read "unknown." There were marble benches throughout the cemetery and I sat down to play several times. There were other visitors to the cemetery and we exchanged greetings, or they smiled when they would walk past me playing. It was getting late; as I finished my last song, as it had at Shiloh, the wind swept through the strings. It continued to resonate all the way back through the cemetery. Mike said it sounded like the music of the souls.

As we drove home, I was happy to have completed my 25 'gig' quest, but determined not to stop. As we continue to visit the Civil War sites, I plan to bring my harp with me. But as of yesterday, I earned the title of ...

Paula K. Parker, Millennium Memorial Harper for the Civil War in Tennessee.

(Below is the declaration made in early 2002:)

I, Paula K. Parker, am declaring my Millennial Harp Quest for 2002. I will play in AT LEAST 25 Civil War sites and claim the title of Millennium Harper in Memory of America's Civil War.

My vision is two-fold. First, I will play in honor of those who nobly sacrificed their homes, their families, their very lives during the saddest of times in America's history, Second, I will play in hope of a present peace in our land.

My goal is to play in at least 25 historic Civil War sites. These places will include battlegrounds, historic homes, cemeteries, museums and other places significant to the Civil War. While I live in Tennessee, which has a myriad of such sites, I plan to visit sites in other states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

I will document my quest with a journal consisting of pictures, signatures of witnesses, and momentoes of the occasion. I also plan to include a brief description of the significance of that site.

For this achievement, to be completed before December 31st, 2002, I will claim the title of Millennium Harper in Memory of America's Civil War.

Blessings, Paula