Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Slave, Soldier, Citizen

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: at tour stop five, the Round Forest, in Stones River National Battlefield Park on Old Nashville Highway, Murfreesboro, TN
County: Rutherford
Coordinates: N 35° 52.586    W 086° 25.635
  35.87643333    -86.42725
Waymark: None


A tombstone can only tell so much about the life of a man. From the shape and standard design of the markers you see ahead, you can tell that two veterans of the United States military lie here in graves just outside of the wall of the Hazen Brigade Monument. But other details and documentation about the lives of William Holland and his grandson William Harlan are missing.

William Holland spent most of his first 30 years in Maury County, Tennessee. He was born in Kentucky. The only records we have about him just document his Civil War military service. No one knows exactly when Holland bought the piece of farmland that includes the grave sites you see.

William Holland started his life in a country where the law said he was only a piece of farm property. When he died some 70 years later, he was - by law - an American citizen and a property owner.

Holland served his country in the 111th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. All U.S.C.T. soldiers wore the standard Union blue uniforms. No photographs of Sergeant Holland is known to exist.

When the war ended, Sergeant Holland returned to farming - for the next 43 years of his life. Like many other U.S.C.T. veterans, he settled here in a new African American community called Cemetery. Union veteran Albert Kern photographed the Rutherford County farm you see in this exhibit about 30 years after the Civil War.

William Holland's life

  • Born in a Todd County, Kentucky farm, exact year unknown.

  • A slave working on a farm in Maury County, Tennessee until about age 30.

  • These War Department documents show that William Holland entered the United States Army in 1864.

  • Captured during fighting at Athens, Alabama in September 1864, Holland was a prisoner of war for four months.

  • Records show Sergeant Holland was honorably discharged in 1866.

  • Holland worked here in the National Cemetery.

  • Applied for an received a veterans pension in 1897.

  • Landowner here in Rutherford County, Tennessee until his death in his mid-70s.

Erected by Stones River National Battlefield - National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior.