Stones River National Battlefield
In the cold, early morning of the last day of 1862, a battle erupted between two American armies totaling more than 80,000 men. The small town of Murfeeesboro, Tennessee was about to become a major battlefield.
The Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest of the war. More than 3,000 men lay dead on the field. Nearly 16,000 more were wounded. Some of these men spent as much as seven agonizing days on the battlefield before help could reach them. The two armies sustained nearly 24,000 casualties, which was almost one-third of the 81,000 men engaged.
Today, more than 6,100 Union soldiers are buried in Stones River National Cemetery. Of these, 2,562 are unknown. Nearly 1,000 veterans, and some family members, who served in the century since the Civil War are also interred there.
About 2,000 Confederates are buried in the Confederate Circle at Evergreen Cemetery. This plot is their third resting place. They were buried on the battlefield by Union soldiers after the battle, and were moved to their own cemetery later. When the first Confederate cemetery fell into disrepair in 1867, the bodies were moved to Evergreen Cemetery.
On Memorial Day, 2005, some of my family members visited the Stones River Battlefield where we listened to a Park Ranger tell of the battle that raged on that site more than one hundred years earlier. My grandsons, young as they were, listened with awe and asked questions of us as we walked through the cemetery later. They remembered the ranger telling about the German soldier named Christian Nix that fell on the first day of battle. Stones River National Battlefield’s museum and archives collections hold many artifacts and documents detailing the life of Lieutenant Christian Nix of the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Infantry. The boys were anxious to look for his tombstone. A carved wooden board once marked his original burial place and a marker of stone now displays his name and company. That Labor Day there were flags marking all of the graves.
Tombstone of Lieutenant Christian Nix
24th Wisconsin Infantry
- Friends of Stones River National Battlefield, s.v. "Saving the Past for the Future" http://www.friendsofstonesriver.org/ (accessed November 16, 2009).
- Stones River National Battlefield, s.v. "Stones River - National Park Service" http://www.nps.gov/stri/index.htm/ (accessed November 16, 2009).
- Civil War Album, s.v. "Stones River, a Virtual Tour" http://www.civilwaralbum.com/stonesriver/index.htm (accessed November 16, 2009).
- Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery, Digital Format, Original photographs taken and belonging to Judith Richards Shubert, Labor Day, 2006.