If you’ve ever walked or driven around Nashville for any substantial amount of time you’ve likely smelled what smells like a city-wide collective fart. Nashville stinks some of the time and in some neighborhoods, depending on the time of year, most of the time. Many cities have this issue to varying degrees, but Nashville’s history offers some insight to why it stinks so often.
In 1864 the Battle of Nashville took place and during a two week break in the fighting, with rations dwindling and temperatures plummeting Union soldiers were unable to bury their feces as was the norm. As the feces piled up Union army commander General George Thomas had an idea to end the battle with a controversial strategy; they would collect the feces into a cannonball and fire it at the Confederate Army. “I cannot get that stench out of my mustache,” he said. “We shall fire it unto our foes.”
And fire they did. As the poop ball sailed from a catapult, across the Cumberland River, a scent was laid that would haunt the region from that point on. It was the turning point in a decisive victory for the Union, but the loss of dignity and incomparable scent would change Nashville from that point on.
So if you’re ever driving across the Cumberland River with your windows down and wonder if the river actually shit itself, the answer, in a way, is yes. But at least you’re not the guy the cannonball of poop landed on. What a way to go.