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Kentucky soldiers rest for eternity next to famous memorial
The Hazen Monument erected June 1863 by Union troops.

 

       January 4, 2013 - On this date in 1863, Union army burial parties were combing the Stones River battlefield for corpses.

      Eight Yankees from Kentucky would end up interred next to one of the oldest Civil War memorials.

      Union troops built the Hazen Brigade Monument to their fallen comrades. The old cairn is a landmark on the Stones River National Battlefield near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

      Fifty-five graves flank the historic memorial. Their epitaph reads HAZEN’S BRIGADE TO THE MEMORY OF ITS SOLDIERS WHO FELL AT STONE RIVER DEC. 31, 1862 ‘THEIR FACES TOWARD HEAVEN, THEIR FEET TO THE FOE.’” The flat-topped, "quadrangular pyramidal shaft" is 11-feet-tall and 10-feet-square.

      Colonel William B. Hazen's brigade, including the Sixth Kentucky Infantry, was the only Union outfit not to give ground to fierce Confederate attacks on December 31. His brigade suffered more than 400 casualties.

      The three-day battle of Stones River ended in Union victory. Union General William S. Rosecrans forced General Braxton Bragg to withdraw his Rebel army from the stony, cedar-studded battlefield, 650-acres of which are preserved in the park.

      Hundreds of Kentucky troops fought under Rosecrans or Bragg in the battle of Stones River, named for a shallow, boulder-strewn stream that snakes through Murfreesboro. On January 2, Hazen’s men helped repel the charge of Hurt and his “Orphan Brigade” comrades. Bragg retreated on January 3.

      Buried at the Hazen monument are Privates Franz Bassell, Charles Hitner, Joseph Kram, John Matly, Joseph Maas, Adam Maus (or Mans), James Mulberry and Bernhard Schneller. They served in the Sixth Kentucky, one of Hazen’s four regiments.

     Also inscribed on the monument are the names of Colonel Walter Whitaker, Lieutenant Colonel George T. Cotten and Captain Charles S. Todd. Whitaker, who was promoted to general, was the Sixth Kentucky’s first commander. Cotten and Todd were killed in the battle, but they were buried in Kentucky.

   Two other Sixth Kentucky soldiers killed at Stones River lie in unknown graves. They are Corporal Henry C. Cardwell and Private Joshua McKee.

   Chiseled on the monument, too, are names of brigade officers who perished in the battle of Shiloh in April, 1862. Second Lieutenant Anton Hand of the Sixth Kentucky is on the roll of the dead.

   The monument stands where Hazen's brigade defended a little woods known as the Round Forest. The Union troops dubbed the killing ground "Hell's Half Acre."

   The monument is surrounded by a stone wall. There are tombstones for about half of the graves inside the enclosure.
   Organized in 1861 with about 900 men, the Sixth Kentucky mainly came from Louisville and central and northern Kentucky counties. Besides Shiloh and Stones River, the regiment fought at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Kennesaw Mountain and in the battles around Atlanta. Only about 300 men were on regimental rolls when the war ended.

-- Berry Craig is a professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and is the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. The books are being sold to raise money for scholarships at WKCTC. They are available by contacting Craig by phone at (270) 534-3270 or by email at berry.craig@kctcs.edu.

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