Stones River National Battlefield | FORTRESS ROSECRANS

Cannon exhibit at Fortress Rosecrans

Cannon exhibit at Fortress Rosecrans

After the Confederates abandoned Murfreesboro on January 4, 1863, Union General William Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland occupied the city. Shortly thereafter Rosecrans set out to build a 225-acre earthen fort to serve as protection for supply warehouses and the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. Construction was overseen by Brigadier General James St. Clair Morton. The fort was the largest earthen fort constructed during the Civil War and originally included ten lunettes (a half moon-shaped fortification that is open at the rear), four redoubts (a square-shaped fortification that is completely enclosed), a steam saw mill, a powder magazine, and warehouses. Fifty cannon were put into place to defend the fort. It held enough food to feed a family of ten for 2,465 years, or Rosecrans’ 50,000 man army for ninety days.

The fort took six months to build. For the first four months, 40,000 men worked from sun up ’till sun down with shovels and picks. These men included both soldiers and newly freed black laborers who for the first time worked for a wage. The final fort had 14,000 feet of wall and had the Stones River, the Nashville Pike, and the railroad tracks running through its center. Today only 1,400 feet of wall remain.

Fortress Rosecrans operated until the end of the war, then it was abandoned. The only sections that remain today are Redoubt Brannan, lunettes Thomas and Palmer, and the walls connecting the two. The rest has been lost to real estate development over the years. What remains is open to the public during daylight hours.

Redoubt Brannan

Lunettes Palmer and Thomas

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Last updated on March 10, 2020
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