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Scouts clean headstones at national battlefield

Scouts in Troop 350 clean gravestones at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tenn. CONTRIBUTED
Scouts in Troop 350 clean gravestones at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tenn. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Fifteen scouts and adult leaders in Troop 350 honored the departed with a cleanup project at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“Our scouts requested to work on the Historic Trails Award Program. Stones River is one that worked for us and is close,” troop committee member Andy Williams said. This program requires study of a historic location, camping, hiking and a service project.

During the Civil War, the Battle of Stones River or Second Battle of Murfreesboro was fought primarily in December 1862. For major battles, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. The Confederates’ eventual withdrawal gave “a much-needed boost to Union morale after the Battle of Fredericksburg defeat and dashed Confederate aspirations for Middle Tennessee,” Williams said.

More than 6,100 Union soldiers are buried in Stones River National Cemetery. Of these, 2,562 are unknown. Nearly 1,000 veterans and some family members who served after the Civil War also are interred there.

Scouts cleaned existing gravestones with buckets of water and brushes during two-plus hours of early afternoon temperatures in the 90s and in bright sun. Rangers provided a battle overview from the visitor center. The Scouts then hiked for 5.1 miles.

“They used interactive markers to explore the battlefield, answering questions and gaining a greater understanding of circumstances the soldiers faced,” Williams said.

The group included Colin Bruyns, Brice Heering, Zach Kemp, Noah Little, Brody Millsaps and Dylan Templet representing the Dragons or first-year patrol. Older Scouts Jamauri Chapman and Andrew Downs led the hike. Seven adults chaperoned.

Chartered by St John the Baptist Catholic Church, Troop 350 has 65 youth and 42 adults. Most Scouts are Madison residents, along with Huntsville and county residents.

Troop 350 camps monthly. Scouts can attend an annual ski trip and a long-term summer activity, such as resident camp or high adventure at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico or Florida Sea Base. Troop 350 has produced 100-plus Eagle Scouts in its 20-year history.

Led by Scoutmaster Jim Hauser, Troop 350 meets on Mondays at 6:45 p.m. in the school cafeteria at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Visitors are welcome.

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