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  • Erin Egnatz

Stones River National Battlefield: Tennessee

Just outside of Nashville, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is Stones River National Battle Field. It is here that the Battle of Stones River occurred from December 3, 1862 until January 2nd of 1863. Over 78,000 men from the Union and Confederate sides clashed in this three day battle. The clash resulted in more than 24,000 casualties and almost 3,000 dead. The battle was a Union victory, with the Confederate's withdrawing on January 3rd.


In the years since the battle, a portion of the land where the battle took place has been preserved, though it is only a fraction of the actual battlefield. The battlefield also has a large cemetery with roughly 6,800 graves, 2562 of which are unidentified according to the Wikipedia page.


With this being a violent battle with a large loss of life, it is not at all surprising to hear that it has many ghosts who still haunt the grounds. Ghostly soldiers have been seen by many visitors to the park. Some believe the soldier they see are a reenactor until he vanishes without a trace in a matter of seconds. As with many haunted battlefields, the phantom sounds of gun and cannon fire can often be heard. Disembodied voices are heard fairly often along with footsteps that sound almost like a march.


The most famous ghost who haunts the battlefield is the headless horseman. He is thought to be Julius Peter Garesché, a Lt. Col. in the Union army who was killed by a cannonball during the battle. It was a gruesome scene to be sure, but what makes it even more so, is the fact that he was on horseback at the time. When the cannonball decapitated its rider, the horse shot off across the field with its headless rider still somehow seated, much to the horror of the men on the battlefield (check out the American Battlefield Trust's site for more on his story). Since that day of battle, the headless horseman has been seen on many occasions, riding across the battlefield. Reenactors, visitors, staff and even local authorities have all reported seeing the headless soldier during one of his phantom rides.


Stones River National Battlefield is part of the National Parks Service and is open from 9-5 daily if you are ever interested in stopping by. I highly recommend it if you're ever in the area. The Civil War preservation and history is well worth it, but the chance to catch a ghostly interaction makes it all the more interesting.


Photo by: KennStilger47

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