How John H Baker chose Murfreesboro for his carpentry shop at the corner of Church and Vine is a mystery.
Murfreesboro was a town of 2,000 or so in the Stones River Valley. At one point it had briefly served as the state capitol, mainly because its citizens had long been politically influential in state government despite the town’s small size. Rich agriculturally, when the Civil War started the Confederate army planned to use it as a provisioning position and also to take advantage of the warm welcome the army received after its first battle nearby.
The first battle of Murfreesboro was fought on July 13, 1862. Confederate troops, hoping to thwart a Union drive on Chattanooga, overran Murfreesboro, took captive several small union units, and destroyed Union supplies in the town, as well as the railroad track in town.
On December 31st of that same year, the second battle of Murfreesboro, better known as the Battle of Stones River, started and lasted through January 2nd. It was a costly battle for both sides: when the battle started there were more than 70,000 men in the area between the two armies. At least 25,000 men died. The battle took place just northwest of town, along both sides of the river, the railroad and the Nashville Turnpike.
After the second battle, the Union army built the largest fort of the war located just south of the battlefield, a 255-acre earthen structure astride the railroad and the Nashville and Wilkerson Road turnpike. It housed 2500 men and supplied the army’s movements to the south throughout the war.