The Battle of Stones River was fought from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863. It only lasted 3 days, however, in terms of Civil War battles, it had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. More than 83,000 troops took part in the battle and there were 23,000 casualties. Families’ homes were destroyed. Livestock was killed. Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s economy was destroyed for decades to come. It was a very brutal battle.
If you didn’t know this was a battlefield, you would never imagine today that so much blood and so many lives were lost here. Many believe the battlefield to be haunted. There are accounts of loud explosions like a cannon being fired, mysterious soldiers appearing and then disappearing, the sound of soldiers marching and even a headless horseman. Some believe that there are literally thousands of spirits roaming there. It is said that the spirits don’t know they’re dead due to the violent nature in which they died.
The Slaughter Pen, which is Stop No. 4 on the battlefield walking or driving tour, was given its gruesome name because a third of the Union division and three brigade commanders were killed in the cedar forest there after Confederate soldiers took them by surprise. Most of the accounts seem to happen in this area.
The park is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and is free to the public. You can tour by car, bicycle, or on foot. It is an excellent place to go hiking.
The Stones River Battlefield is one of only 32 military parks or national monuments in the nation preserving Civil War history and it is an important tourist resource because of that.
There are several re-enactments throughout the year. For a calendar of events and more information about the battle go to https://www.nps.gov/stri/index.htm