As published in the Murfreesboro Post, October 15, 2006, by Mike West, Managing Editor
A 1999 study prepared for the National Park Service determined the most significant actions and sites of the Battle of Stones River.
Many of them are outside of the national park’s 570-acre boundaries and are in areas undergoing major development. In the last five years, three of the historic buildings on the list have either been destroyed by fire or demolished to make way for development.
1. Rosecrans’ Headquarters:
Monument representing the headquarters site of Union commander Major Gen. William S. Rosecrans. Actual site was south of the site in the present rock quarry.
2. Bragg’s First Headquarters:
Unmarked site of Confederate commander Gen. Braxton Bragg’s headquarters at the start of the battle on Dec. 31, 1862. Here he made plans and issued orders to his troops for the first day of battle.
3. James House:
Headquarters for Confederate corps commander Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk during the battle. His forces were involved in the fighting at the Round Forest. The city of Murfreesboro had planned to use it as a museum or focal point for its Gateway Center before vandals burned the house in 2004.*
4. McCulloch House:
Headquarters for Confederate corps commander Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee. From this point, Confederate forces began their attack toward Major Gen. Alexander McCook’s Union forces. The house, located on River Rock Drive near the Verizon Wireless call center is scheduled for demolition to make way for a condo development.*
5. Start of Battle:
Site of where advancing Confederate troops first encountered Union forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Richard W. Johnson on Dec. 31. The Union forces began to fall back under the Confederate onslaught after taking heavy losses.
6. Harding House/Brick Kiln Site:
Scene of heavy fighting during the initial Confederate attack as Confederate Col. Arthur M. Manigault and Brig. Gen. J. Patton Anderson attacked the forces of both Union commanders Brig. Gen. Joshua Sill and Col. George Roberts. The Confederates forced the Union troops to retreat, and at one point Roberts’ troops were being fired upon from two sides by Confederates. *
7. Gresham House Site:
Site of heavy fighting during the initial stages of the battle. House served as a Union field hospital. *
8. General Sill’s Death Site:
Site where Union General Joshua Sill was killed. A detail of men was assigned to carry the general’s body to the Gresham house, but abandoned the corpse as the fled from oncoming Confederate forces.
9. General Smith House:
Location of heavy fighting on the first day of battle as Confederate forces began their drive toward the Nashville Pike. The house still stands and is in private ownership.
10. Hiram Jenkins House:
Temporary field hospital that stood in the midst of the fighting as Union forces under McCook were pushed back by Hardee’s men on Dec. 31. The house was recently demolished.
11. Blanton House Site:
An area near the Wilkinson Pike where bitter fighting occurred on the first day of the battle as Union forces conducted a fighting retreat toward the Nashville Pike.*
12. Round Forest/ Hazen Monument
The only point where Union troops held their position throughout the first day of battle. Massed Union artillery broke up a series of Confederate attacks launched against this position. In 1863, on this site, survivors of Col. William B. Hazen’s Union brigade erected what is now the nation’s oldest intact Civil War monument. **
13. Cowan House Site:
Farm where Confederate troops were forced to maneuver around the structures, and in doing so, became disorganized. This confusion, along with withering Union artillery fire, kept the Confederate forces from successfully assaulting the Union positions at the Round Forest. The house was burned during the battle and was located on property owned by New Vision Baptist Church on Thompson Lane. *
14. Toll House Site:
Union forces were able to stabilize a defensive line against the onslaught of Confederate troops. **
15. Colonel Garesche’s Death Site:
A cannonball decapitated Col. Julius Garsche, Rosecrans’ chief of staff, during the fighting near the Round Forest on the first day of the battle. His body was found after the fighting by Colonel Hazen near the tracks of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.
16. Asbury Lane
This road became a critical escape route for Union forces and McCook’s wagon train as the Confederates advanced toward Nashville Pike. During the first day of the battle, heavy fighting occurred along the lane, which became a mass of confusion with soldiers retreating while Union officers attempted to establish a defensive line.
17. Widow Burris House:
Point of the Union defensive line along Asbury Lane where Union forces under Major Gen. Thomas Crittenden went into action only to be pushed back by Confederates. House served as minor field hospital during the battle. The house still stands and is in private hands.
18. Chicago Board of Trade Battery:
A battery of six cannons (purchased by the Chicago Board of Trade) open fired on Confederate forces to halt their advance as fleeing Union troops broke from the cedars and crossed the nearby open field. **
19. Intersection of Nashville Pike and Asbury Lane:
Scene of hard fighting on the first day where Union forces were able to sustain a determined defense and halt Confederate troops.
20: Hord House:
House on Nashville Pike that stood behind Union lines and served as the main field hospital. Confederate cavalry briefly threatened this position but were pushed back by Union cavalry and infantry on the first day of battle. The house still stands and is in private hands.
21. Bragg’s Second Headquarters:
Marked site of the second headquarters of General Bragg. Here he planned his strategy for the battle’s continuation on Jan. 2, 1863.
22. Breckinridge’s Attack/ Mendenhall’s Artillery:
Site of a Confederate attack that pushed Union forces back until Major John Mendehall massed 58 cannons and smashed the Confederate assault with losses of 1,800 men killed or wondered in less than one hour. **
23. McFadden’s Ford:
The point where Breckinridge’s attack was destroyed as his troops attempted to ford Stones River in the January cold. **
* No longer exists.