The Battle of the Bands at Stones River National Battlefield

On Saturday October 16, 2021, living history musicians playing the brass and percussion instruments of the period will present a series of concerts at Stones River National Battlefield. This special event will commemorate the December 30, 1862, Battle of the Bands that took place on the eve of the Battle of Stones River.

As the sun set on December 30, 1862, nearly 81,000 men in blue and gray faced each other across the fields and forests to the west and south of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Every man knew that the next day would bring yet another titanic battle and more lives lost as our nation’s Civil War ground on. Samuel Seay of the First Tennesse Infantry, CSA described what happened as darkness fell.

“Just before ‘tattoo’ the military bands on each side began their evening music. The still winter night carried their strains to great distance. At every pause on our side, far away could be heard the military bands of the other. Finally one of them struck up ‘Home Sweet Home.’ As if by common consent, all other airs ceased, and the bands of both armies as far as the ear could reach, joined in the refrain. Who knows how many hearts were bold next day by reason of that air?”

On Saturday October 16, 2021, Confederate and Union bands will fill the park with the songs that meant so much to soldiers and civilians throughout the conflict at several locations on the battlefield. This special event will conclude with bands battling for supremacy on the field as they did on December 30, 1862, recreating that poignant moment when competition turned to unity as all soldiers’ thoughts turned to the home.

Stones River Battlefield Battle of the Bands
Stones River Battlefield Battle of the Bands

Concert Schedule

  • 10 AM – Confederate Band Rehearsal Behind Visitor Center (Public Invited)
  • 11 AM – Union Band Rehearsal Behind Visitor Center (Public Invited)
  • 1:30 PM – Confederate Band Concert at the Slaughter Pen (Tour Stop 2)
  • 2:30 PM – Union Band Concert at the Stones River National Cemetery Rostrum
  • 3:30 PM – Battle of the Bands

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