You have no doubt heard of the tornadoes that hit Middle Tennessee yesterday in the mid-afternoon. What we thought was a single twister turned out to be two of them, one going through the town and the other crossing I-24 right into the core of the Stones River National Battlefield.
I just got off the phone with Park Ranger Jim Lewis who is a good friend of mine and he told me that the twister hit Tour Stop Three, moved through the Round Forest and then hit Tour Stop One and the Hazen Monument and cemetery. He said the trees now look like they would have during the battle – thousands of them shattered and blown down. Other than massive tree damage, the Hazen Monument (the second oldest CW monument in the country, erected during the war, and the oldest still on its original site) and the cemetery stones came through just fine. No cannons of the park were damaged but a caisson was moved and needs to be replaced. Thankfully, none of the park staff was hurt.
Subdivisions around the park have been smashed quite badly. I am told that one tornado was an F2 and it grew to F3 by the time it hit the park itself. A number of reports and pictures came in on the news showing a very large funnel cloud.
Stones River Park will be closed for quite some time as the staff assesses the tree damage and what ones need clearing away. I will keep this list apprised as the Spring and Summer go onward as to the park’s condition. There will be a call for volunteers to help with cleanup at some point.
I think it would be terrific if our CWRT would pass the hat at our next meeting to take up a donation for the park to help with its cleanup. If you are interested in doing so we’ll discuss it at the upcoming meeting.
Another Middle Tennessee Civil War area also affected by tornadoes was the Tullahoma Campaign. Twisters were reported between Wartrace and Bell Buckle as well as near Tullahoma itself along with near Estill Springs (formerly Allisonia where the railroad and road bridges crossed the Elk River at the time as they still do). I have not heard of damage down there as yet. I led a tour of that area just a couple weeks ago for the CWRT in Columbus, OH and it is one of the most beautiful parts of Tennessee.
A lot of people lost homes and businesses yesterday – and a few lost their lives. Please keep them and their families in your prayers. Please also pass this around to all of your CWRT members so they know of the damage and recovery efforts.
Greg Biggs Clarksville TN CWRT
(Please check the link to the Stones River Park on this page and check for updates regarding the tornado, and park operating hours and closures.)