United States Colored Troops formed the majority of Johnsonville's garrison. They played a crucial role in the construction of the depot and its defensive works. They garrisoned the blockhouse defending the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad and fought at the Battle of Johnsonville.
Battle of Johnsonville
November 4, 1864
Johnsonville's 2,500-man garrison consisted of the 12th and 13th U.S. Colored Infantries, the 43rd Wisconsin Infantry and Meig's Battery—Company A, 2nd U.S. Colored Light Artillery.
The garrison faced Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest in early November 1864. While Forrest's attach succeeded, the men fought well. The gunners of Meig's Battery hit one of the Confederate guns, forcing them to pull back. Sharpshooters of the 13th U.S.C.I. drove Confederate soldiers from the riverbank.
The Battle of Nashville
December 15-16, 1864
All of the United States Colored Troops who fought at Johnsonville faced the Confederates again at the Battle of Nashville. As part of the Second Colored Brigade they were in the forefront of the assault on the Confederate works on Peach Orchard Hill (Overton Hill). Their valor and determination earned them the praise of not only their Union comrades, but also of the Confederates they fought.
(lower center) Company A, 2nd U.S. Colored Artillery at Johnsonville. They fought at the Battle of Johnsonville and at the Battle of Nashville.
(upper right) The 13th U.S. Colored Infantry lost 40% of its men in the assault of Overton Hill.