Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Battle of Murfreesboro
Beginning of a Legend
—Forrest's First Raid —
For two weeks in July 1862, Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest led 1,400 cavalrymen through Middle Tennessee to raid, scout and disrupt the Union Army of the Cumberland’s operation there. Leaving McMinnville on July 13, Forrest fought actions at Murfreesboro, on the outskirts of Nashville, at Manchester, and elsewhere. He also destroyed railroad tracks and cut telegraph lines. Forrest’s raid, his first independent command, was also the first large-scale raid within the Federal lines in the western theater. It earned him a promotion to brigadier general.
Few Union soldiers stationed in Murfreesboro were stirring in the early hours of Sunday morning, July 13, 1862, when Confederate Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry thundered down East Main Street. The substantial Federal garrison here under Gen. Thomas T. Crittenden guarded the vital Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad line, but the troops had been separated into three groups. An infantry regiment, a cavalry detachment, and an artillery battery were camped on Stones River more than a mile northwest of the town square.
Another regiment bivouacked
After capturing the sentinels on the outskirts of town without firing a shot, Forrest formed his men into three columns and attacked each separate Federal detachment simultaneously. The action on the square was heavy, and Union sharpshooters killed more than twenty Confederates from protected positions in the courthouse and surrounding buildings. The Federal defenders held fast until the Confederates set fire to the first floor of the courthouse and threatened to burn them out.
The combination of surprise, strategy, and guile proved to be effective. Each of the three Federal detachments surrendered in turn. Forrest’s cavalry took more than a thousand prisoners, including Crittenden, four artillery pieces, and a large quantity of military stores. They also freed a number of local citizens being held hostage in retaliation for the killing of some foraging Union soldiers.
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Thomas T. Crittenden Courtesy Library of Congress
Rutherford County Courthouse Courtesy Tennessee State Library and Archives
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 50.764′ N, 86° 23.54′ W. Marker is in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in Rutherford County. Marker is at the intersection of North Maple Street and West Main Street, on the left when traveling south on North Maple Street. Touch for map. The marker is on the grounds of the Rutherford County Courthouse. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20 Public Square, Murfreesboro TN 37130, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. General Griffith Rutherford (a few steps from this marker); Architecture on the Square (within shouting distance of this marker); The Founding of the County (within shouting distance of this marker); Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Rutherford County Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Forrest's Murfreesboro Raid (within shouting distance of this marker); Murfreesboro Confederate Soldiers Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); 1860s View of East Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Murfreesboro.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 448 times since then and 68 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.