Cherry Shade was a Hospital
The following is from ‘Hearthstones, the story of historic Rutherford County Homes’, by Mary B. Hughes, 1942.The long train of wagons bearing supplies for the Federal army moved down the Nashville turnpike toward the little village of LaVergne. Now and then the steady crunching of the wheels rolling over the limestone rocks was punctuated by the crack of a whip as the weary drivers sought to spur on the horses. The supplies must reach Murfreesboro in time for the conflict that was to be fought there. Those were –the only sounds that lurked menacingly in the cedars along the road. Swift as a bolt of lightning, the thing that had been felt by each of the drivers struck from the shadows. As the train passed a crossroad, horsemen bearing torches and riding with the wind descended on the train and before the drivers could act, had set fire to the wagons. The whole scene was then transformed into an inferno of exploding ammunition, and leaping flames, mingled with the screams of wounded and dying men. Farm folk for miles around could see and hear the inferno from their homes on the wooded hills. All night long blue clad officers and men worked in the red light of the burning wagon train, seeking to extinguish the blaze where it burned low enough, tending the wounded, or going in search of the rebel raiders. One of these searching parties stopped before a colonnaded house near the railroad station. Someone had told them that at least one of the rebel raiders was hiding in that home. Sharp and clipped orders were heard in the light air. “Bring the cannon into position . . . Ready . . . aim . . . fire!” A thunderous noise was heard even amid the roar of these explosions, as the cannon discharged its shot into the front wall of the house In its wake was left a great hole — which years later was still to be seen if anyone wished to remove the boards which were to be placed over it. The house was then occupied by one John Birdwell and his family, Birdwell was an overseer for John Hill, sawmill operator, who had built the imposing structure in 1833. Hill, who formerly lived in Lebanon, had married Margaret Rouhlac, daughter of Francois Leonard Gregoire de Rouhlac, who had come from Limoges, France, in 1790, and settled in Rutherford County. M. Rouhlac—he dropped the “de” from his name for convenience — had named the community of LaVergne, meaning “the green” because of its grassy meadows and its many cedar trees. His son-in-law, who had operated a large rope and bag factory at Lebanon, moved to the little Rutherford County community and became a planter and stock breeder. He purchased a large acreage and sold lots, laying off the town of LaVergne. His own home was a one-story structure, U-shaped in the rear with porches around the oblong courtyard. Its walls were of poplar, boards, and the space between the inner and outer walls was packed with cedar sawdust, thought to be the first attempt in the county at home insulating. Mr. Hill called his home “Cherry Shade”. When the war broke out the Hill family moved away leaving “Cherry Shade” in the care of John Birdwell. It was the Birdwell family that was jolted from their beds when the cannonball shook the house.