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Todays Haunt goes to….:drum roll:… Stones River Battlefield in Murfreesboro TN

 

Most Haunted Place in America: Stones River National Battlefield

For close to 80,000 American soldiers, there would be no new year’s celebration bringing in another year of war in 1863. On a cold winter day, December 31, 1862 a battle took place in a small town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee that lasted until January 2, 1863. Over 23,000 would leave this battle killed, wounded or missing as eventually the Confederated withdrew but it seems today some of them continue to fight in one of the most haunted places in America.

The Stones River National Battlefield is approximately 495 acres that is federally owned and protected. It was established in 1927 and was designated a national battlefield in 1960. Included in the 6 stop driving tour of the park is the Stones River National Cemetery which saw its first Union burials in 1865. The 20 acre cemetery saw it last burial two years later in 1867. There are over 6500 Union troops buried here, most of the Confederate dead were taken to their home towns or buried in a mass grave south of town.

In the cemetery is the Hazen Brigade Monument, a monument built by the soldiers themselves. The Hazen brigade would repel 4 Confederate attacks on December 31 and be the only Union soldiers to hold the line during the first day of battle. On January 2, 1863 this regiment would, with the help of heavy artillery fire, push back the Confederate attack. Hazen’s regiment lost 45 men and had 364 casualties during these 3 days. Their fellow regiment members erected a monument honoring those 45 men after the battle. It is considered by the National Park service, the oldest U.S. Civil War monument still standing where it was originally built.

One of the stops on the tour is a wooded area where the Confederates had effectively bottled up the Union army on three sides. This area resulted in the bloodiest days of the battle. The area is heavily wooded, rocky and full of sinkholes. Known as the “Slaughter Pen” many soldiers died here, some lay wounded and died before they were found and unfortunately some were never found at all.

This is one of the spots claimed to have paranormal activity. Re-enactors have reported seeing a soldier around there camp fires, standing right on the edge of their camp or leaning against a tree. Visitors have reported hearing footsteps walking along side them down the narrow paths in the park and Park Rangers have reported the area to be up to 20 degrees cooler than anywhere else in the park.

Another run in with an apparition of a soldier involved another Park Ranger. It is reported that he was among friends camping when he ran out of water, heading to the administration building to refill he saw a man standing behind a bushy area. The Ranger stopped and asked the man to come out in the open to be seen. He did and began to raise both hands in the air similar to surrendering. Alarmed the Ranger told the man he was armed and to stop right there or he would shoot. The man dropped to the ground and disappeared. The next day no evidence was found of the man, no footprints or even broken branches where he was standing.

No story of the Stones River Battlefield would be complete without the story of Confederate Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche. During the first day of the battle the Lieutenant Colonel rode into battle on his horse only to be met by Union gunners. One of those gunners hit Julius Garesche and decapitated him. The headless apparition has been reported to be seen riding in the area of his death near the railroad by railroad employees and visitors alike.

Make a note to visit an honor the soldiers who lost their life at Stones Creek in Murfreesboro. It is a beautiful park and a major part of our nation’s history. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can bring home more than just a history lesson and add your story to the many already told of the ghost at Stones River.

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