We know that Tennessee’s history is deeply marked by the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. This is also the reason why in 1996, Congress passed a law declaring the entire state as a national heritage area. Today, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area survives to tell the rich history of the state, including tales from enslaved African Americans, native Tennesseans, and soldiers from the Union and Confederate armies. People flock the area and experience its culture through its network of trails, museums, and sites.
The best way to explore the Heritage Area is by following the Tennessee Civil War Trails. Some programs link the sites in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. However, for those who want to focus on one area, Murfreesboro would be a good starting point. It is located approximately 40 minutes south along I-24 from Nashville, with Stones River running through the heart of the city. Murfreesboro is filled with family-friendly activities, historical sites, and great restaurants to fill your day trip. Here are some of the places you can visit:
Stones River National Battlefield
One of the most important battles in the history of the American Civil War is the Battle of Stones River. In the winter of 1862 and 1863, 81,000 Confederate and Union forces clashed for three days. For many historians, this battle was considered as the determinant of the fate of the United States. If you want to get closer to nature, you can also visit the Stones River National Battlefield. It is one of the most stunning green spaces in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Registered on the National Register of Historic Places, the Oaklands Mansion was a frontline witness to the Civil War. This plantation home hosted some of the popular figures in Tennessee, including naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury, Sarah Childress Pol, and Confederate General Braxton Briggs. Its very front lawn was the site where Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalrymen defeated the Union forces. You can hear more about this on the mansion’s tour which runs from 1-4 p.m. Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.
Close to the battlefield, you will find Cannonsburgh Village. It has been maintained to stage the life of Tennesseans during the 1800s. Here, you will find a single-room schoolhouse, a church, gristmill, general store, and other elements that reflect the pioneer times. You will even find the biggest cedar wood bucket in the world in this village. If you want to explore the area, you can do so for free. Meanwhile, you can still choose to have a guided tour for a reasonable fee.
If you’re touring with your kids, you will enjoy an afternoon at the Discovery Center. It features themed events and interactive exhibits that will pique the interest and senses of your children. So, after spending an entire morning immersing in the rich culture and history of Tennessee, a visit to this attraction will be great for your kids. They can dabble in art, learn about food production, and educate themselves about the water pump systems.
Indeed, there are plenty of ways to explore the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. However, with all its attractions and historical sites, Murfreesboro serves as an excellent starting point for your tour.