Add some history to your summer
Middle Tennessee saw some of the most spectacular battles of the Civil War. The landscape here is dotted with many memorials, battlefields and historic sites that tell the story of this terrible time in American history. Explore the lasting legacy of the Civil War in Middle Tennessee with your family this summer.
The Battle of Franklin
The Battle of Franklin took place outside the city on November 30, 1864. With some 6,000 casualties, including 14 generals, the Army of Tennessee was dealt a terrible blow during the battle. The loss of generals at the Battle of Franklin was greater than during any other single battle of the Civil War. As the repercussions of the loss began to be felt, General Hood left Franklin to the Union army and marched his men onward toward Nashville and another fateful battle.
Carnton Plantation, home of the McGavock family, was just behind the front lines of the battle and hosted the largest temporary field hospital in the war. Less than a mile from the deadliest of the action, the house became the last source of hope for those wounded. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Carnton Plantation is also the home of the largest private Confederate cemetery.
The Carter family hid in their basement at Carter House during the Battle of Franklin, and the home was left standing in the aftermath. Used as the headquarters for the Twenty-Third Army Corps during the battle, the house is now a Tennessee historic site. The Slavery and the Enslaved Tour at Carter House and Carnton is a 90-minute tour that offers insight into both the institution of slavery and the individuals who were enslaved on each property.
Stones River National Battlefield
The Battle of Stones River began on December 31, 1862 and continued until January 3, 1863. A hard-fought campaign, the battle was a Union victory that converged with the Emancipation Proclamation.
Positioning his troops to halt a Union advance towards Chattanooga and protect the farmland of Middle Tennessee that fed the Army of Tennessee, General Bragg took a stand against General Rosecran’s Army of the Cumberland. Marching from Nashville to meet the Confederate army, Rosecran’s was spurred on by President Lincoln’s desire for a victory to coincide with the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The battle proved to be costly for both sides, with nearly 24,000 casualties total. Many Federal and Confederate units reported losing one-third of their men. In the aftermath, Union soldiers recalled the bloody scene as looking like the slaughter pens of a Chicago stockyard, giving the area its name.
The oldest intact Civil War monument in the nation, the Hazen Brigade Monument, is located at Round Forest, an area located between the Nashville Pike and Stones River. As the only Union unit that did not retreat from Round Forest on December 31, Colonel William Hazen’s Brigade gave Rosecrans a solid anchor for his Nashville Pike line that finally stopped the Confederate tide. Hazen’s men were so proud of their efforts that they erected a monument on the spot after the battle.
On January 2nd, the battle renewed with the Confederate Army coming within range of Union cannons. With more than 1,800 killed or wounded in less than 45 minutes, General Bragg ordered the Army of Tennessee to retreat on the morning of January 3, 1863. On January 5, the Union Army declared victory and entered Murfreesboro. With nearly 24,000 casualties, the Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest of the war. The victory bolstered the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Battle of Nashville
The Battle of Nashville was waged from December 15 to December 16, 1864. One of the largest Union victories of the war, the battle was fought in the heart of current downtown Nashville and effectively ended the war in the western theater.
Beginning on December 1, the 4th Corps of the Union army occupied Belmont Mansion in preparation for the battle and made it their headquarters. Skirmishes and fighting occurred between the Union soldiers at Belmont and Confederate soldiers began on December 3 and lasted until the 4th Corps left Belmont on December 15 to march on downtown Nashville.
Downtown Nashville and the surrounding area are dotted with notable places from the Battle of Nashville. The Battle of Nashville Monument is one of only a few Civil War monuments dedicated to the memory of the fighting men on both sides of the war. The Belle Meade Plantation was the headquarters for Confederate Gen. Chalmers and was the site of a Confederate cavalry and Union infantry skirmish. From December 2 until his departure west, Travellers Rest served as the headquarters for Confederate Gen. John B. Hood. The largest Civil War era stone fort, Union Fort Negley fired the opening guns of the Battle of Nashville. Taking three months to construct, the fort was built in 1862 and included a labor force of 13,000 Union soldiers and freed blacks. Nashville National Cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 15,000 Union soldiers, including those killed at the Battle of Nashville, while some 1,500 Confederate soldiers are laid to rest at Confederate Circle at Mt. Olivet Cemetery and an additional 500 at Confederate Soldiers Home Cemetery.
Having hosted many memorable battles, Middle Tennessee is a living history of the Civil War. Come explore the many Civil War sites of the region, where remembering the past, honoring sacrifice, and understanding history are part of daily life.
Are you planning a tour of Civil War sites this summer? Leave us a comment below and tell us where you’re planning to visit.
Annette Masterson is a licensed broker with EXIT Realty Bob Lamb & Associates in Murfreesboro, TN. She has developed one of the most successful real estate teams in Rutherford County, known as Masterson Network, that specializes in new home construction and residential listings and sales throughout Middle Tennessee. You can email Annette at email@example.com or call her at 615-896-5656 (Office) or 615-533-1660 (Cell) for more information.