On the morning of December 31, 1862, the men in Col. William B. Hazen‘s brigade of the Army of the Cumberland prepared to defend a position at the edge of a grove of trees near the Nashville Pike outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That afternoon their position, known locally as the Round Forest, became the most hotly contested spot on a battlefield that would become synonymous with hard fighting.
Hazen’s men staved off four separate assaults made by six different Confederate brigades anchoring the Union center that day. The ferocity of the fighting in their sector left behind a gruesome scene of dead and mangled bodies giving immediate rise to a new name: Hell’s Half Acre.
Following the battle, the site became the focus of one of the earliest attempts at battlefield commemoration as Hazen’s men built a monument to mark the site of their triumphant stand. The Hazen Brigade Monument stood for decades as the anchor on the landscape that would later become a national park.
Park Ranger Jim Lewis will tell the tale of the pivotal fighting at Hell’s Half Acre using the words of those who fought there and examine how the fighting there helped reverse the tide of battle. He will also discuss the sense of pride that led Hazen’s men to construct a monument during the rigors of war time, a monument that stands today as one of the most unique features on the Stones River National Battlefield.
Lewis’ talk will be Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the monthly meeting for the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. See details on the left side of this page.