NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A short 10 miles from the steps of Tennessee State University stands a living museum that pays tribute to one of the bloodiest battles to take place during the Civil War.
Travellers Rest, a plantation and now a museum located at Harding Place and Interstate 65, saw some of the fiercest fighting during the two-day Battle of Nashville, where approximately 6,000 Confederate soldiers were killed, captured or considered missing in action. The battle decimated the southern forces in Nashville and was literally fought on the front lawn of the plantation.
Today, students from TSU’s PAC House Productions are bringing that history back to life with the documentary, Voices of War.
The Department of Communications student-led production company helped write, direct and produce the 20-minute documentary for the historic landmark’s new exhibit, The Battle of Nashville: History Unfolds at Travellers Rest, which debuts Nov. 22 at the museum.
According to Melissa Richie, director and editor of Voices of War and advisor to PAC House Productions, the project began a year and a half ago when she and Dr. Donald Page, professor of Communications, where asked to participate in creating media for the historic landmark’s new exhibit. After countless hours of collaboration with Travellers Rest on writing the script, pre-production began last spring with filming this fall. Now in its final phase, the documentary is ready for debut at the museum.
“Of all the colleges and universities in middle Tennessee, the Board of Directors commissioned the students from PAC House Productions at Tennessee State to produce this documentary,” said Richie, who also serves as assistant professor of Mass Communications at the University. “That really says a lot about the capabilities we have and the quality of work our students produce. This short documentary will rival anything you might see at the Smithsonian or any other Civil War museum.”
The documentary, filmed over five days at the Travellers Rest Plantation, cast more than 30 Civil war re-enactors, including men, women, children and horses sporting period-correct costumes, and depicts life on the plantation during the Battle of Nashville.
According to MC Potts, producer of the documentary, the hard part was the coordination of “all the moving parts.”
“It was very stressful and made for some extremely long days,” said Potts, a senior from Columbus, Ohio majoring in Theater and Communications. “The filming began the end of October, which is a very busy time of year at the plantation, and for the re-enactment community. All the students on the production team worked hard putting this together and we are very proud of the final product.”
Besides the production crew, others lending their talents to the documentary include Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam, who provides the video epilogue, and Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard, who portrays Andrew Johnson. Tennessee National Guard Assistant Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Robert Harris, portrays Isham Harris who was the Governor of Tennessee from 1857 until 1862, and Col. (ret.) Randy Harris, public affairs director for the Tennessee National Guard, who lends his voice for character narration for the documentary.
(As seen on Fox 17 morning News)
PAC House production members that worked on the documentary included Micah Wickre and Chris Garner, directors of photography; Jonathan Starks and Justin Dixon, assistants of photography; assistant directors Jasmine Scarber and Ariana Heslup; special effects editing by Tervell Smith; crew members Sean Jenkins and Thema Dial; set photographer and crew member JaQuita Stewart; and actors Carrington Edwards, Tyree Taylor and Porshia Edwards.
Travellers Rest is the oldest house open to the public in Nashville. Built in 1799, it was home to several generations of the Overton family. In December 1864 it served as the headquarters for the Confederate Army under Gen. John Bell Hood. Covering nearly 1,050 acres, some of the heaviest fighting took place on the second day of the Battle of Nashville at Peach Orchard Hill on the plantation grounds. Today the plantation is a living piece of American history depicting life before and after the Civil War.
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.