Stones River National Battlefield has been having some great presentations, firearms and artillery demonstrations all week commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle there that lasted for three days beginning December 31, 1862 and ending January 2, 1863. More than 81,000 men fought leaving nearly 24,000 dead, wounded or captured. The Union army would hold the field at battles end, securing vital supply lines to and from Nashville and paving the way for ultimate victory for the north.
The Confederate Army of Tennessee had set up a line of defense in Murfreesboro, intending to protect supply lines by road and rail, the farmlands of Middle Tennessee and ultimately the positions in Chattanooga from the advancing Union Army. After a crushing defeat at Fredericksburg and with the Emancipation Proclamation going into effect on the first of January, the Union needed a victory to bolster morale and support the new proclamation abolishing slavery. A very good narrative of the battles can be found at the National Park Service website dedicated to the Stones River National Battlefield.
I attended the events at the battlefield on Sunday, December 30th, along with my son and a friend of his. The re-enactors were numerous and in full uniform. They were extremely knowledgeable and anxious to answer any questions asked. There were musket brigades there along with five cannon units. At appointed times during the day, the Park Rangers would give narratives of the battles while the musket or artillery units would fire their guns to accent different parts of the battles. It was very well done and coordinated, the professionalism of the Park Service employees and volunteers was apparent. They also had a kind of treasure hunt for the kids. They would be given a form of different questions pertaining to different areas of the park and museum, and if they completed everything they were given the title of Junior Rangers, along with a badge and certificate. A great way to get the little ones involved and interested.
Stones River National Battlefield is a wonderful historic park and I highly recommend a visit. There is a driving tour of the different areas of the battlefield, along with a museum and the National Cemetery where many of the soldiers that had taken part and had fallen at the battles are buried. Their website is http://www.nps.gov/stri/index.htm
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