Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stones River National Battlefield

We drove 30 miles to visit another historic Civil War battlefield, Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro.  Murfreesboro served as the capital of Tennessee from 1818 to 1826.  Early legislators included Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Andrew Jackson, and James Polk.  

The holidays were celebrated in Murfreesboro in 1862 with much joy with many of the townspeople and soldiers incorrectly believing news that the Union troops were starving in Nashville.  On December 26, 1862, General Rosencrans led the Union forces from Nashville towards the Confederate army camped outside of Murfreesboro.

On December 30, both armies were camped only 700 yards across from each other.  Their bands started a musical battle. Northern musicians played "Yankee Doodle" and "Hail, Columbia" and they were answered from the other side with "Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag."  One band started playing "Home Sweet Home" and the others joined in.    

The battle began December 31 very early in the morning when the Confederate forces attacked the Union troops who were still preparing breakfast and drinking coffee.  It's hard to imagine 81,000 troops on this piece of land.

Even though Union forces were stunned, they regrouped to hold off the Confederates in what was later named the "Slaughter Pen" long enough for their army to pull back and fortify their position.

On January 2, Union forces hid behind stones and rails as men fled across the river chased by Confederate soldiers.  As they came over the river, Union cannons opened fire killing and wounding 1,800 men.  This was the final action of the battle.  Southern troops retreated and the Union now controlled Murfreesboro.

There were over 24,000 casualties on both sides One of the oldest Civil War Monument is at Stones River.

Colonel William Hazen's men were the only Union soldiers that did not retreat during the battle. They lost over 400 of their troops.  Hazen's men did not want them to be forgotten, so they built  this monument in 1863.

 It is always a sombering experience when touring one of the Civil War battlefields.  It is impossible to imagine the carnage that took place on this now peaceful spot.

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