We spent another day in Murfreesboro, because we have so many questions yet to answer.
Here are the highlights.
1. Meeting Larry Standridge
The biggest question I had was where did the Fourth Florida fight during the Battle of Stones River? This is a large battlefield, and I have no idea where they fought, even after spending a half day here yesterday.
The battle stretched over a three day period–a day of fighting, a day to rest and bury their dead, followed by another day of fighting. We felt certain that the 4th Florida may have fought on at least two separate pieces of ground.
The evening before I had done an extensive Google search looking for pictures of this battlefield that showed where all the different units fought, but I was unable to find any really good maps of Stones River.
So we drove back to the visitor center at the battlefield, and this was where we met Ranger Standridge. What a gem he was. He too had an ancestor who fought in this battle, and he was a walking historian about this event.
He showed us that the key to finding our ancestor was to know which generals William fought under. He walked us through the process.
During this battle, William served in Hardee’s Corps which was over Gen. Breckenridge’s Division over which Gen. Preston’s Brigade was placed. The 4th’s commander was Bowen.
There were several very detailed maps, beginning on the evening of December 28, 1862 and ending on the evening of January 2nd, 1863. They showed troop movements throughout the hours of each of the skirmishes.
What a find! The Blue & Gray was so helpful that we were even able to see where William camped the night before the first day of the battle. He camped up on a hill on the eastern side of the river about a half a mile northwest of Murfreesboro just off the Lebanon Pike. You can see it below. Just look for Preston’s name, and that is where his men camped. On my way back from St. Louis I stopped here again to find the camp site. It is now a beautiful rolling hilled golf course. You can see clearly see the hill where they camped. What would these men think of this area now, as it is surrounded by beautiful spacious homes.
2. Returning to Hell’s Half Acre
After looking at the map dated December 31, 1862 at 3:30 to 4 PM, we could see that the Florida units had been moved up to fight across from the Round Forest and right next to Hell’s Half Acre. That piece of land was in front of palmer’s brigade, and this is where the Yankees did not give ground.
Chuck and I found the site next to the railroad tracks very close to the Hazen monument. This is where the 4th Florida fought on that day. You can see the Hazen monument on the other side of the tracks.
This day’s fighting began before daybreak so by 3:30 in the afternoon when Preston’s brigade was brought forward, the Yankees front line was already much fatigued.
3. Seeing McFadden’s ford for the first time
Yesterday we ran out of time and was unable to get to “stop number six” which is called McFadden’s farm. I’m glad we did because this was the place where our William saw the most action and was wounded. We needed lots of time to walk this.
Today we are back, and we have maps showing exactly where the 4th Florida went into their hardest fighting. With map in hand we began.
We parked on top of the hill where the Yankees had 43 of their 56 cannons pointed down towards the river, the Rebels and the city.
What we did realize though was how impossible it was for the Confederates to take this hill. This was not a forested area then as you can tell from this old photo below.
From something I found online we know that this is where the Fourth Florida lost its battle flag.
Since we know from records that William was wounded on this day January 2, we are fairly certain that this was the place where it happened. We’re also fairly certain that it was by a rifle shot since they were fighting so close to the Yankee front. We couldn’t see how the Yankee cannons would have shelled their own men. If William had been in Hanson’s brigade, It would have likely been done by cannon.
Again, this is another place I revisited on my way back from St. Louis. I drove through the neighborhood using my GPS until I was across the river on the other side of the natural ford. Using the map with the time of day when the unit saw its worst fighting, I stood where I thought this took place. I was in a beautiful neighborhood, quiet with children playing down on the water back of the homes sitting on the river. What a juxtaposition from what happened here when my GGG Grandfather was wounded. Then it was carnage, but today people were in their homes with their air conditioners running. I had the quiet cul-de-sac all to myself.
4. Finding Bradleys academy
We drove back into Murfreesboro specifically to find Bradley’s Academy. This may have been a hospital where William was taken. I took pictures. Actually, the hospital here filled up those days and then all the churches filled up, too. They had to bring the injured into people’s homes. When the Confederate moved out, though, those who were too injured to be moved were left behind to become Union prisoners of war. William was one of those men. His injuries must have been bad, because he is listed as having been in a hospital here, a hospital later in Nashville, another one in Petersburg, VA and finally a final one in Key West, which was probably the Tortugas. Upon further research I found out, though, that the most injured were finally moved to this building as they consolidated the men to one place for easier protection. Because his injuries seemed to be bad, we felt more confident that he did eventually spend time here.
We drove from Murfreesboro on into Nashville using the Nashville Pike, the same road the Yankees used to invade Murphreesboro. We were headed to the Nashville public library so that I can find where the union detained hospitalized confederate prisoners of war. We know from records that William did spend some time in a Nashville hospital. I have been unable to find the information online.
We rolled into Nashville and found a parking garage right next to the library which was also attached to the Renaissance Hotel. Looking for an entrance from the garage to the library, we stumbled upon a Starbucks in the hotel and stopped for an afternoon coffee and frappachino.
Then we asked directions to the library, but found that the library had just closed. I guess we should have skipped Starbucks. We needed to be back in the morning to do the research so we decided to stay in a hotel nearby.
After a great dinner at Pucketts Grocery and a great drink called the Nashcow Mule for me, we took a long walk and circled Tennessee’s state capital on several levels admiring and reading all the monuments. It sits high on a hill overlooking the evening’s city lights. Again there was a gentle breeze, and the weather was perfect.
If you need to do research at Nashville’s downtown library, a great place to stay is the Homewood Suites. Pricey but super convenient and not as pricy as the other downtown hotels.