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The Rutherford County Courthouse and the Civil War

The Rutherford County Courthouse

The Rutherford County Courthouse. Shacklett's Historic Photographs Collection at the Rutherford County Archives, circa 1863. The platform below the clock on the cupola was used by the Union Army as a signalling post. Notice the difference in the cupola in this photograph and the city beautiful postcard. in 1913 downtown Murfreesboro was hit by a tornado. City officials used the chance to install a new cupola.

In 1858 it was determined that the new Courthouse, built after the original courthouse burned in 1822, was too small. Therefore another courthouse was planned, built, and finished in 1859. Historian Homer Pittard notes that the courthouse cost $50,000 to build. The Courthouse was built on the eve of the Civil War and would occupy a central role in Murfreesboro's Civil War experience. In 1862 Murfreesboro had been captured by the Union army, which then used the Courthouse as an observation tower and signaling post.[1]

On July 13, 1862, then Colonel, later to be General, Nathan Beford Forrest led a raid to drive the Union from town. Forrest was successful in momentarily driving the Federal soldiers out. For a period of time the Courthouse showed signs of mini-ball damage, some were even lodged in its structure. It is not known if the mini-balls and bullets that were stuck in the Courthouse were a consequence of the skirmish between Forrest, his troops, and the Union soldiers, or the result of Union troops attempting to relieve boredom while on duty. [2] 

[1] Homer Pittard, "The Rutherford County Courthouse" (Murfreesboro, TN: The Rutherford County Historical Commission, ca. 1970).

[2] Michael Gigandet, "Though Time Passes," Collage (Middle Tennessee State University: February, 1975.) National Register of Historic Places, Rutherford County Courthouse, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee, National Register #365557.

Civil War bullet extracted from Rutherford County Courthouse

Civil War bullet extracted from Rutherford County Courthouse. Photograph courtesy of John Lodl. April 4, 2013.