Remembering Tennessee Civil War Battles 150 Years Later
On a bitter cold Dec. 30 evening, Union and Confederate brigades met on the battlefield at Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tenn. President Abraham Lincoln needed a Union win to boost support of the Emancipation Proclamation for when it went into effect January 1, 1863. His armies were stalled and he urged his generals to secure a victory. The Battle of Stones River, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, would be the crucial battle for a political and social change.
Stones River wasn’t an ideal place for a battle, especially in the first months of winter. It was cold and wet; mud was the men’s beds and rocks were their pillows. As the sun rose on Dec. 31, 1862 the Confederates attacked the Union soldiers as they were still in their nightclothes cooking breakfast. The Union was completely caught off guard; they retreated to the woods, where they were concealed by rocks and trees. After two days of fighting, however, the Union was victorious.
When the Battle of Stones River was over, there were more than 24,000 casualties. More than 3,000 died and almost 16,000 were wounded.
Some historical characters’ stories surrounding the battle will come to life at First Presbyterian Church’s Symposium of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Stones River Oct. 26 – 27. The symposium is a time to reflect and reexamine the political and social impact the Battle of Stones River had on American history.
Friday’s programs will open with a presentation by Larry Daniel, a well-known Civil War historian. Historical presentations will be conducted Saturday morning, followed by lunch at Stones River National Battlefield with an insightful look at the battle from Dwight Pitcaithley, former National Park Service Chief Historian. Soldiers’ stories will be retold and Stones River Musicianers will play concerts.
The $20 registration fee is for Friday’s evening snacks, continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/stri/planyourvisit/legacycurrent.htm.
In West Tennessee December 1862, the Confederates were able to sever the Union rail communications. While completing this task, they slowly were making their way to the Tennessee River under the command of Confederate Gen. Nathan Forrest. Union Col. Cyrus Dunham led a brigade to stop the Confederates.
The marches led by the colonel and general met at Parker’s Crossroads. The scuffle began at 9:00 a.m. and the Confederates were easily winning. Another Union brigade burst on the scenes led by Col. John Fuller and joined the fight, taking the Confederates by surprise. However, Gen. Forrest responded with gusto as he commanded his troops to fight both sides. His troops were able to fight back Fuller’s men and then turned their attention onto Dunham, where they were able to fight enough to escape and cross over the Tennessee River.
Approximately 3,000 Union soldiers and 1,800 Confederates were involved in the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads. Even though the Confederates suffered 500 casualties compared to the Union’s 237, they were considered the victors because Forrest’s troops were able to escape across the river and live to see another day.
Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Association will commemorate the battle with a reenactment and history lesson at the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads Nov. 2 – 4.
If you want to visit Civil War landmarks all year-round, pack up and head onto the Civil War Trail, complete with battlefields and history, available throughout Tennessee.
Have you ever attended a Tennessee Civil War reenactment? Share your stories in the comments below!