Wednesday, June 10, 2015

In and Around Murfreesboro

Murfreesboro, TN was the site of some pretty significant battles during the Civil War and is a city that Sid has always wanted to visit.  Officially, it's a suburb of Nashville, but it's far enough away from the city to be a distinct destination for us.  We had the opportunity over several days to learn about some of the history.

Canonsburgh was the original name of the settlement in 1811 and to honor that history, the city has recreated a pioneer settlement that represents what the burg might have looked like back them.  It's totally free to tour and we managed to get to do so in between rain showers one day.

Starting with upper left a town hall, general store, doctor's office and the outhouse.  Did you know that the term "outhouse" can be used for any structure used for activities not wanted in the main house?

Again starting with the upper left, a grist mill, the interior of the schoolhouse, a cotton warehouse and the chapel.

It's amazing to me that this authentically recreated village is completely funded by donations. What a great resource this is for area school children.  Of course, they use some of the buildings as event centers for weddings and such, so touches of the modern age can be seen.

If I ignored this view, I felt like I was really walking around a village in the 1800s.

By 1818, the city had been renamed Murfreesboro and the state capitol moved to it from Knoxville.  The current day town square has a pretty impressive courthouse and a pretty busy shopping district.

Murfreesboro Courthouse

We also got to tour a historic home in Murfreesboro called Oaklands.  Owned by the Maney family who were Union sympathizers, it survived the Civil War and decades of neglect to finally be owned and restored by the city.


The front door did not have a key hole or lock.  This was because the front door was only used by visitors and thus opened from the inside only!

Looking up the drive.  Most homes of this era had keyhole shaped drives leading to the front of the house.  This was to reduce the amount of dust kicked up by the horses - because it wasn't a straight driveway, the horses naturally had to slow down.

Pictures were not allowed inside the home, but we had a personal tour with a young man who was well informed about the home as well as local history.  We discovered that if you get to an attraction when they first open for the day, you generally get a one-on-one tour.  Our guide told us that descendants of the Maney family still reside in Murfreesboro but, interestingly enough, they are almost all black.  That's because the slaves, after emancipation, generally took the family name as their own.  Makes me wonder how those descendants feel having their history told over and over!

Something I did not know was that, after the war, Southerners who were loyal to the Union were allowed to file a claim with Southern Claims Commission to be compensated for loss of personal property.  Evenually, Dr. Maney's claim was denied since his son served for the Confederacy.

And last, but not least, we visited the Stones River National Battlefield.  This campaign was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War.  More than 23,000 troops were killed, causing the battlefield to be nicknamed Hell's Half Acre.  In addition to a national cemetery, it also contains the first Confederate cemetery that we've seen.  If you remember in my Vicksburg post, national cemeteries were only for Union casualties. 

Sid in the graveyard

The museum on the grounds had some original artifacts, dioramas and a very extensive narratives describing the battle.
Original fife owned and used by Pvt. Slyvester Winchester.  He was killed on the first day of the battle.

Diagram of the earthenworks fort used on the site

Diorama of a battle scene

A reproduction over the shoulder bugle.  Music played a very important part in the war.  I've never seen one like this.

Tennessee was a split state during the Civil War.  While officially a slave state, much of the population were Union sympathizers when war broke out.  I happened to see a map that showed the locations of all the war activity and I was shocked at how invasive the war was on the state.

There appear to be very few areas of that state that did not see battle.  Tennessee is certainly a state with a rich history and worth visiting.  I hope I can return some day!

Until next time...

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