Murfreesboro Secures Civil War Battlefield Land for Future Park & Preservation

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The Murfreesboro City Council voted Thursday, June 20, 2024, to approve a unique sub-grant agreement for American Battlefield Trust to purchase property to be deeded to the City for incorporation in the Parks & Recreation system. The 31.6 acres located off Agripark Drive and east of Gresham Lane was pivotal in the start of the Battle of Stones River in 1862, one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Civil War.

“We are excited once again to partner with the American Battlefield Trust to add more greenspace to the Murfreesboro Park system and preserve this historically significant site,” said Recreation Services Executive Director Nate Williams. “As Murfreesboro continues to grow, adding natural preservation areas like this is critical to fulfill our vision for education and conservation.”

“We’re excited to see another piece of the battlefield preserved and are looking forward to working with the City of Murfreesboro to create an interpretative experience that will allow the public to imagine the early stages of the Battle of Stones River on this site,” said Stones River National Battlefield Acting Superintendent Jim Lewis.

The area to be preserved sits west of I-24 and just north of Hwy 96 where one of the most crucial early moments of the Battle of Stones River took place (see attached maps).

Lewis provided a description of the landscape on the morning of Dec. 31,1862:

“Following a 6 a.m. Confederate assault upon the U.S. Army of Cumberland’s right wing, Confederate Gen. J.P. McCown’s division began moving northwest in pursuit of their shattered enemy. The Confederate movement ran counter to the planned wheel to the north and opened a gap in the Confederate lines. Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne pushed his brigades forward to fill the gap and struck Col. Sidney Post’s Union brigade.

General Cleburne’s men drove their enemy from the site beginning the collapse of the U.S. division commanded by Gen. Jefferson C. Davis. The early Confederate success, however, came at a price. Cleburne’s men were meant to act as a reserve, bolstering the Confederate attack with fresh troops when the leading units began to slow down. Instead, they had to rush into the fight at 7 a.m., leaving the Confederates with no reserve force to reinvigorate their attack as it began to slow near Wilkinson Pike.

The loss of momentum ultimately allowed Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans of his U.S. Army of the Cumberland to establish a new line of defense along the Nashville Pike that stopped the Confederate advance and began turning the battle into an important Union victory.”

After the land purchase is finalized, along with State of Tennessee regulatory action, the land will be deeded to the City in future maintenance of the park land by the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department.

Under the agreement, “a recorded easement must provide for the permanent preservation and protection of the Property by restricting the use, development, and conversion of the Property, and by requiring public access to the Property.” The City of Murfreesboro has agreed to act as the Applicant and Recipient of an American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant (BLAG).

The agreement outlines the responsibilities of the Subrecipient (American Battlefield Trust) and the City of Murfreesboro, including the assigning of a City grant coordinator for grant administration and communication with the Subrecipient.

The National Park Service (NPS) grant requires a municipal participant to act as a passthrough for federal funds. The Sub-Grant Agreement with the American Battlefield Trust must still be finalized with legal approval.

The total project funding cost, including federal share and subrecipient share is approximately $7.94 million. The grant does not require a financial match from the City and future maintenance costs of the park are anticipated to be minimal.

The American Battlefield Trust is a charitable organization whose primary focus is the preservation of battlefields of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the American Civil War, through the acquisition of battlefield land.

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