I’ve actually been to Stones River National Battlefield before as part of my 2017 52 Hikes Challenge, which you can read about here, but W- had never been despite being an American Civil War buff, so I decided to take him one Saturday recently when we both had the afternoon free.
Our first stop after the Visitor’s Center was the Slaughter Pen. The half mile loop trail takes visitors through the location of the heaviest fighting, which occurred on the afternoon of December 31, 1862. Large rocks hidden amongst trees and tall grasses made for treacherous terrain and gave the area it’s name, as soldiers looked on in horror at the bloodshed. Visitors to the Slaughter Pen are welcome to leave the trail and climb on the rocks, but I would recommend exercising caution to avoid sprained ankles.
After the Slaughter Pen, W- and I made a stop at a part of the Battlefield where I had never been before – the Hazen Brigade Monument. The monument was built by soldiers in 1863 to honor those who died at Stones River, and is located in a small cemetery where members of Union Col. William B. Hazen’s brigade (made up of members of the 9th Indiana, 41st Ohio, 6th Kentucky, and 110th Illinois) were laid to rest. Interestingly, the Hazen Brigade Monument is actually the oldest American Civil War monument still standing in its original battlefield location, which is incredibly specific designation, but I’m sure it’s a golden American Civil War trivia nugget to someone out there. Visitors are allowed to walk around in the cemetery, but be careful where you step and be wary of vicious mosquitoes during warm weather!
Our last stop of the day was the Artillery Monument at McFadden Farm. Instead of driving up to the monument, like I did last time, W- and I parked at the Thompson Lane trailhead of the Murfreesboro Greenway and walked the .2-mi one-way paved trail that takes you to the back side of the monument. Said path runs alongside the Stones River and is actually a nice little walk if you want to change things up a bit. I will say that I think we surprised an elderly couple (approximately in their 80s) who were up to who-knows-what because when we topped the hill at the Artillery Monument, he was shirtless and she was only in shorts and a bra. It was a warm day, but still… W- and I just made as little eye contact as possible and we all went along our separate ways.