One of the worst battles of the Civil War took place not far from Nashville. Both sides fought extremely bravely because both sides knew that it would probably be a turning point in the War. The central part of the state of Tennessee was at stake, and you can see what happened at the Stones River National Battlefield.
In the Battle of the Stones River, there were more than 81,000 men involved. The Confederate forces were strong and had already controlled central Tennessee, from where they were getting their supplies. They wanted to take Nashville and cut off many supplies that were constantly strengthening the Union armies.
The Army of Tennessee (Confederate) had pushed the Union Army back to the Stones River after a couple of days of battle. The very fierce battle took place over three days - from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863. Prior to falling back to the River, both sides had suffered tremendous casualties.
At the Stones River, the Union Army saw it as a last stand in order to keep Nashville under their control. A loss here would mean a tremendous victory for the Confederates - if they were not stopped here. With some reinforcements, the cannons were set up on the Nashville side of Stones River - waiting for the Confederates to attack - which they soon did.
At that time, many Confederates lost their lives as they charged the Union position. Fortress Rosecrans was quickly built there afterwards to ensure the region for the Union side. The Confederate Army retreated, allowing the Union side to take over central Tennessee.
Altogether, there were about 24,000 casualties, which was about one-third of the forces involved. At the Stones River National Battlefield, you will find that 600 acres of the actual battlefield have been preserved.
The Stones River National Cemetery can also be visited. There are 7,123 headstones, and more than 6,100 of them are Union Soldiers. More than 2,500 of them, however, are unknown and may also contain more than one set of remains - possibly a family member of the soldier. More than 2,000 Confederate soldiers were buried at the Evergreen Cemetery.
There is a large Visitor's Center which is free, just like the Battlefield. Here you can see a museum, a movie about the battle, and a gift shop. The Center is open every day except Christmas from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Teachers can also find a lot of support material at the Battlefield's Website. These can be used in the classroom, such as a trunk or guest speaker, or the classroom can be brought to the Battlefield.
The Park has a number of activities on special days for families and Scouts. One of them is the Be A Junior Ranger, and also there are activities to help Scouts earn badges. There are many talks, tours, and presentations through the year, as well as living history demonstrations, and Civil War weapons demonstrations.
In the summer months at the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, TN, park rangers offer guided tours. These occur on a regular basis and are caravan tours. These run from May through October. Some tours may also be given that are walking or bike.
Other things that can be done in the Park are hiking and biking, and watching animals. There is also a picnic area right near the Visitor's Center.
Read about other Murfreesboro tourist attractions:
- Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village, Murfreesboro, TN - Attraction
- Stones River Mall - Murfreesboro (Nashville), TN - a mall with beautiful scenery and something for everyone
- Lane Motor Museum, Murfreesboro, TN
- The Avenue Murfreesboro - Murfreesboro (Nashville), TN - just one of the Avenue locations in the South
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