Stones River National Cemetery

A white flagpole with an American Flag flies over a cemetery with rows of white headstones.

NPS

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.

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 58 seconds

Museum Technician Marna Bastian explores the history of Stones River National Cemetery.

 
A Civil War cannon sits in a National Cemetery covered in snow, with a pyramid of black cannon balls in the background.

NPS

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.

Means chose the area between the Nashville Pike and the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. This site saw some of the heaviest fighting of the battle. The location also provided easy access for workers and the public. In 1865, work began on Stones River National Cemetery.

 
A brightly colored postcard shows the Regulars Monument in Stones River National Cemetery. It is a tall stone cylinder with a large bronze eagle on top of it.

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.

Two monuments stand in the cemetery. The U.S. Regulars Monument, erected in 1882, recalls the sacrifices made by that unit during the Battle of Stones River. A second memorial honors the soldiers of the 43rd Wisconsin and the 108th Ohio. These men protected the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad during the Union occupation of middle Tennessee.

 
Rows of headstones in a national cemetery. Small American Flags stand in front of each headstone.

NPS/Jenkins

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."

Today, Stones River National Cemetery hosts services to remember those who have served in the US military. Decoration Day, Memorial Day, and Wreaths Across America bring hundreds of people to the National Cemetery. These events continue to commemorate those who have served our country.

 
An exhibit showing a black and white photo of a cemetery with rows of earthen mounds.

This "Precious Dust"

Read the wayside about the creation of Stones River National Cemetery

An exhibit showing a black and white photo shows an ivy covered structure and a colored insert

A Patriotic Pulpit

Read the wayside about the special structure found in the national cemetery.

 

Last updated: December 10, 2020

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Mailing Address:

3501 Old Nashville Highway
Murfreesboro, TN 37129

Phone:

615-893-9501

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