Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our Tennessee Home – Stones River National Battlefield

The “Magical History Tour of 2009” brought us north another 200 miles to our Tennessee volunteering destination, the Stones River National Battlefield, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville. We arrived about ten days ago and are settled into our home for the next two months. Our parking spot is in the driveway of one of the houses next to the national cemetery, with 6,000 very quiet neighbors. Actually it is a superb spot! We are near the Visitors Center where we “work,” and we have a shady location. Our volunteer job is digitizing the photo collection for the museum. With 1200 photos under our belt, we are well into the project already. We'll keep you posted on developments as we learn more.

What else has been going on? The first weekend here in the battlefield we heard multiple viewpoints from soldiers and civilians as they described the Battle of Stones River and other Civil War events in Murfreesboro. They shared vivid descriptions of life for the local residents as the war approached and during occupation by the troops. We heard from the boys in blue and in gray who were in the horrendous battle at Stones River. They related their own regiments' experiences on Dec. 31, 1862, January 1 and 2, 1863. I can't say enough about all of these actors. They were all so great at activating our imaginations. They painted a clear picture of the emotions felt by an elderly southern widow trying to survive, a young black woman fleeing slavery, the town merchant dealing with new laws for selling goods, a Yankee doctor running the army hospital setup at the local college and a loyal young woman resentful of Union soldiers.
As well, the soldiers made us see the details of the battle as it hit them, their friends falling next to them as they were bombarded by ear-shattering cannon fire and dodging bullets running through an open field. Then we witnessed cannons firing with our own ears, although only one shot at a time, rather than 50 or 60 at once.

And to finish the day, we journeyed into 1895, visiting with families in the cemetery as they shared letters from their fallen friends and sons. All of us in the group walking through the Stones River National Cemetery had adopted our own soldier to memorialize. We all were given a dossier . Our soldier was Elijah Waller, private, 29th Indiana Infantry, from Angola, Indiana, who was killed on July 10, 1863, in Tullahoma, TN, after surviving the Stones River Battle. We found his grave and paused for a few moments to thank him for his sacrifice.


  1. the reenactments are so much fun the people are so good with the acting of the time

  2. Hi there! I so enjoy reading your blog, you have a way with words that makes what you're experiencing come alive for the rest of us. Since you're in Tennessee, just was wondering if you're seeing lots of fireflies at night?

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron


Hi: Thanks for your thoughts.