After the battle most of the Union dead were hurriedly buried on the field. In 1865, soldiers of the 111th US Colored Infantry began the grim job of reburying the Union dead in Stones River National Cemetery. More than 6,100 Union soldiers lie here, along with about 1,000 soldiers from other conflicts up to the Vietnam War.
In 1864, Captain John A. Means, U.S. Army Assistant Quartermaster, received orders to choose the site of a national cemetery to be the final resting place for Union soldiers who had died in and around Murfreesboro.
U.S. Army Chaplain William Earnshaw supervised the locating and reburying of the remains of Union soldiers. This solemn work fell to the men of the 111th United States Colored Infantry. They searched as far away as eighty miles for those who fell in service to their country.
When their army service ended in 1866, some of the men of the 111th United States Colored Infantry remained in the area working as civilian laborers in the national cemetery. Some of these men purchased property forming the core of a Freedmen’s community. The national cemetery also served as a symbol of their new-found freedom. These strong ties many residents held to the Stones River National Cemetery led them to call their new home "Cemetery."
Last updated: December 10, 2020