The timing of our stop in D.C. was fortuitous. We were there right before the government shutdown, so everything was open. We weren’t so lucky when Stevi took us to Murfreesboro to check out some Civil War sites. But we didn’t let that deter us, and we drove around until we found places we could still visit. One of them was Hazen’s Brigade Monument.
Hazen’s Brigade Monument is a large stone structure built from thick limestone blocks that stands on the grounds of the Stones River Battlefield National Cemetery. It was completed in May, 1863, four months after the Battle of Stones River. The monument is the oldest intact Civil War Memorial and was dedicated to the memory of the soldiers who perished during the battle.
The downside of the visitor center being shuttered (because of the shutdown) was that we missed the opportunity to check out the “time capsule” objects. They were found in 1985 when the monument was being repaired. Nine battle-related items were found, including symbolically arranged artillery shells and musket barrels.
There are two graves that lie outside the walls of the Hazen’s Brigade Monument. William Holland and his grandson William Harlan were both U.S. military veterans. William Holland lived long enough – 70 years – to go from being a slave, basically a piece of property, at the beginning of his life, to ending his life as a property owner and an American citizen.
Most monuments are built 30 years or more after the event by contractors. Hazen’s Brigade Monument is unique in that it was built by comrades of the men buried there, mere months after they’d died. How extraordinary that our modern fingers can touch those very same stones that Civil War soldiers assembled in loving tribute to their fallen brothers in arms!