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Encyclopedia > Battle of Stones River
Battle of Stones River
Part of the American Civil War

General Rosecrans (at left) rallies his troops at Stones River. Kurz and Allison 1891 illustration.
Date December 31, 1862January 2, 1863
Location Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Result Tactical draw; Union strategic victory
Combatants
United States of America Confederate States of America
Commanders
William S. Rosecrans Braxton Bragg
Strength
43,400 37,712
Casualties
13,249 (1,730 killed, 7,802 wounded, 3,717 captured/missing) 10,266 (1,294 killed, 7,945 wounded, 1,027 captured/missing)
Stones River Campaign
HartsvilleStones River

The Battle of Stones River or Second Battle of Murfreesboro (in the South, simply the Battle of Murfreesboro), was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee, as the culmination of the Stones River Campaign in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although the battle itself was tactically indecisive, the Union Army's repulse of two Confederate attacks was a much-needed boost to Union morale after the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and it dashed Confederate aspirations for control of Middle Tennessee. This article is becoming very long. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1752x1293, 670 KB) Summary Library of Congress print (cropped to reduce border) TITLE: Battle of Stone River, Near Murfreesborough, Tenn. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1862 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee Murfreesboro is a city in Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. ... Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (traditional) The Bonnie Blue Flag (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia (May 29, 1861–April 2, 1865) Danville, Virginia (from April 3, 1865) Language(s) English (de facto) Government Republic President... William Starke Rosecrans (September 6, 1819 - March 11, 1898), nicknamed Old Rosy, served as an American military officer. ... Braxton Bragg Braxton Bragg (March 22, 1817 – September 27, 1876) was a career U.S. Army officer and a general in the Confederate States Army, a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. ... The Battle of Hartsville was fought on December 7, 1862, in central Tennessee at the opening of the Stones River Campaign the American Civil War. ... Historic Southern United States. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1862 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Middle Tennessee is a distinct portion of the state of Tennessee, delineated according to law as well as custom. ... Western Theater Overview (1861 – 1865) This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. ... This article is becoming very long. ... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Some Confederate soldiers The Confederate States Army (CSA) was formed in February 1861 to defend the Confederate States of America, which had itself been formed that same year when seven Southern states seceded from the United States (four more states soon followed). ... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Ambrose E. Burnside Robert E. Lee Strength Army of the Potomac ~114,000 engaged Army of Northern Virginia ~72,500 engaged Casualties 12,653 (1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, 1,769 captured/missing) 5,377 (608 killed, 4,116... Middle Tennessee is a distinct portion of the state of Tennessee, delineated according to law as well as custom. ...

Contents

Stones River Campaign

After Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Mississippi was defeated at the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862, he retreated to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where he was joined by Major General Kirby Smith's army of 10,000 on October 10. Although Bragg's force was up to 38,000 veteran troops, he made no effort to regain the initiative. Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, the Union victor at Perryville, was equally passive and refused to attack Bragg. Braxton Bragg Braxton Bragg (March 22, 1817 – September 27, 1876) was a career U.S. Army officer and a general in the Confederate States Army, a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. ... There were three organizations known as the Army of Mississippi in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. ... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Don Carlos Buell Braxton Bragg Strength Army of the Ohio Army of Mississippi Casualties 4,211 3,196 The Battle of Perryville, also known as Battle at Perryville and Battle of Chaplin Hills, was an important but largely neglected encounter... October 8 is the 281st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (282nd in leap years). ... 1862 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Harrodsburg is a city located in Mercer County, Kentucky. ... Insignia of a United States Air Force Major General German Generalmajor Insignia Major General is a military rank used in many countries. ... Portrait of Edmund Kirby Smith during the Civil War Edmund Kirby Smith (May 16, 1824 – March 28, 1893) was a career U.S. Army officer, an educator, and a general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, notable for his command of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the... October 10 is the 283rd day of the year (284th in leap years). ... Don Carlos Buell Don Carlos Buell (March 23, 1818 – November 19, 1898) was a career U.S. Army officer who fought in the Seminole War, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. ...


Frustrated, Bragg withdrew through the Cumberland Gap, passed through Knoxville and Chattanooga, turned northwest, and eventually stopped in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His army, joined with Smith's Army of Kentucky and together renamed the Army of Tennessee as of November 20, took up a defensive position northwest of the city along the West Fork of the Stones River. During a visit by Confederate President Jefferson Davis on December 16, Bragg was ordered to send the infantry division of Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson to Mississippi to assist in the defense of Vicksburg. The loss of Stevenson's 7,500 men would be sorely felt in the coming battle. Bragg reorganized his army, and Kirby Smith left for East Tennessee. Bragg commanded two corps, under Maj. Gens. William J. Hardee and Leonidas Polk, and a cavalry command under Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler. Considerable cavalry manpower and expertise were diluted from the young Wheeler's command when both Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Hunt Morgan were detached for strategic raids outside Middle Tennessee. Bragg had another disadvantage to deal with—a virtual revolt of his senior generals, who petitioned Jefferson Davis to relieve him (in favor of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, the commander of all armies in the Western Theater). Davis refused to relieve either Bragg or the rebellious generals. Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52) Cumberland Gap (el. ... Nickname: The Marble City, K-Town, Big Orange Country, Knox Vegas, 865 Location within the U.S. State of Tennessee Coordinates: Cities in Tennessee Tennessee Government  - Mayor Bill Haslam (R) Area  - City 254. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee Murfreesboro is a city in Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. ... The Army of Tennessee can refer to either of two American Civil War armies: Army of Tennessee, the Confederate army named after the state of Tennessee. ... November 20 is the 324th day of the year (325th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Stones River is a major stream of the eastern portion of Tennessees Nashville Basin region. ... The President of the Confederate States was the Head of State of the short-lived republic of the Confederate States of America, which seceded from the United States. ... Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history from 1861 to 1865 during the American Civil War. ... -1... Carter Littlepage Stevenson, Jr. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Vicksburg is a city in Warren County, Mississippi. ... East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the state of Tennessee. ... William J. Hardee (1817-1873) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. ... For the agrarian leader and North Carolinas first Commissioner of Agriculture, see Leonidas Lafayette Polk. ... A Brigadier General, or one-star general, is the lowest rank of general officer in the United States and some other countries, ranking just above Colonel and just below Major General. ... Joseph Wheeler Joseph Wheeler (September 10, 1836 – January 25, 1906) was an American military commander and politician. ... For the World War II general, see Nathan Bedford Forrest III. Nathaniel Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877) was a Confederate army general and figured in the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. ... Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan John Hunt Morgan (June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a Confederate general and cavalry officer in the American Civil War. ... Joseph E. Johnston Joseph Eggleston Johnston (February 3, 1807 – March 21, 1891) was a career U.S. Army officer and one of the most senior generals in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. ...


On the Union side, President Abraham Lincoln had become frustrated with Buell's passivity and replaced him with Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, victor of the recent battles of Iuka and Corinth. Rosecrans moved his XIV Corps (which was soon after designated the Army of the Cumberland) to Nashville, Tennessee, and was warned by Washington that he too would be replaced if he did not move aggressively against Bragg and occupy eastern Tennessee. However, Rosecrans took ample time to reorganize and train his forces (particularly his cavalry) and resupply his army. He did not begin his march in pursuit of Bragg until December 26. The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. ... For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation). ... William Starke Rosecrans (September 6, 1819 - March 11, 1898), nicknamed Old Rosy, served as an American military officer. ... The Battle of Iuka was a United States Civil War battle fought from October 3 - September 19, 1862 in Iuka, Mississippi. ... The Battle of Corinth II was a United States Civil War battle fought from October 3 - October 4, 1862 in Corinth, Mississippi. ... XIV Corps was a corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War. ... Union army in the west during the American Civil War, commanded at various times by Generals Robert Anderson, Don Carlos Buell, William S. Rosecrans, and George Thomas. ... Nickname: Location in Davidson County and the state of Tennessee Coordinates: Country United States State Tennessee Counties Davidson County Founded: 1779 Incorporated: 1806 Government  - Mayor Bill Purcell (D) Area  - City  526. ... Nickname: Motto: Justitia Omnibus (Justice for All) Location of Washington, D.C., in relation to the states Maryland and Virginia Coordinates: Country United States Federal District District of Columbia Government  - Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D)  - City Council Chairperson: Vincent C. Gray (D) Ward 1: Jim Graham (D) Ward 2: Jack... December 26 is the 360th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, 361st in leap years. ...


While Rosecrans was preparing in Nashville, Bragg ordered Colonel John Hunt Morgan to move north with his cavalry and operate along Rosecrans's lines of communications, to prevent him from foraging for supplies north of Nashville. The Battle of Hartsville, at a crossing point on the Cumberland River about 40 miles (64 km) upstream from Nashville (north of Murfreesboro) was an incident in Morgan's raid to the north, before Rosecrans had the bulk of his infantry forces on the move. The relatively small battle that followed Morgan's surprise attack was an embarrassing Union defeat, resulting in many captured Union supplies and soldiers. The Union also engaged in a strategic cavalry raid. On December 26, the day Rosecrans marched from Nashville, a small force under Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Carter raided the upper Tennessee Valley from Manchester, Kentucky. Until January 5, Carter's men destroyed railroad bridges and fought a few skirmishes, including a serious one on December 28 at Perkins's Mill (also known as Elk Fort). But none of the cavalry raids, Confederate or Union, had any significant effect on the Stones River Campaign. Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan John Hunt Morgan (June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a Confederate general and cavalry officer in the American Civil War. ... The Battle of Hartsville was fought on December 7, 1862, in central Tennessee at the opening of the Stones River Campaign the American Civil War. ... The Cumberland River is an important waterway in the southern United States. ... December 26 is the 360th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, 361st in leap years. ... Samuel Powhatan Carter (August 6, 1819 – May 26, 1891) was a United States Rear Admiral and later served the Union as a Major General during the American Civil War. ... Manchester is a city located in Clay County, Kentucky. ... January 5 is the 5th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... December 28 is the 362nd day of the year (363rd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 3 days remaining. ...


The Army of the Cumberland marched southeast the day after Christmas in three columns, or "wings", towards Murfreesboro, and they were effectively harassed by Wheeler's Confederate cavalry along the way, which delayed their movements. Although Rosecrans had reported his army to have 81,729 effectives in Nashville, his force on the march was barely more than half of that since he needed to protect his base and supply lines from the harassment of the Confederate cavalry. The left wing under Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden (14,500 men) took a route that was parallel to the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, passing through La Vergne and south of Smyrna. The center wing of 16,000 men under Maj. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook marched south along the Nolensville Turnpike to Nolensville, south to Triune, and then eastward to Murfreesboro. The right wing of 13,500 men under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas moved south along the Wilson Turnpike and the Franklin Turnpike, parallel to the Nashville and Decatur Railroad, then eastward through Nolensville and along the same route used by Crittenden south of the Nashville and Chattanooga. The separation of the wings was designed to launch a turning movement against Hardee at Triune, but when the Federal march began, Bragg moved Hardee back to Murfreesboro to avoid a confrontation. Christmas is an annual holiday that marks the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. ... Thomas L. Crittenden Thomas Leonidas Crittenden (May 15, 1819 – October 23, 1893) was a lawyer, politician, and Union general during the American Civil War. ... NC&StL Steam Engine 576, now displayed in Centennial Park in Nashville This famous Southern railroad began as the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, chartered in Nashville in December 1845 and was the first railway to operate in the state of Tennessee. ... La Vergne is a city in Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. ... Smyrna is a town in Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. ... Alexander McDowell McCook Alexander McDowell McCook (April 22, 1831 – June 12, 1903) was a career U.S. Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. ... Nolensville is a town located in Williamson County, Tennessee. ... General George Henry Thomas (July 31, 1816 - March 28, 1870), Northern general during the American Civil War, was born in Southampton County, Virginia. ...


Murfreesboro and plans for battle

Limestone outcroppings in a cedar forest at Stones River National Battlefield, 2005

Murfreesboro was a small town in the Stones River Valley, a former state capital named for a colonel in the American Revolutionary War, Hardy Murfree. All through the war it was a center for strong Confederate sentiment, and Bragg and his men were warmly welcomed and entertained during the month of December. It was located in a rich agricultural region from which Bragg planned to provision his army and a position that he intended to use to block a potential Federal advance on Chattanooga. Gen. Hardee noted afterwards that "The field of battle offered no particular advantages for defense." Despite this, Bragg was reluctant to move farther south, say to the arguably more defensible Duck River Valley, or farther north, to Stewart's Creek, where Rosecrans thought Bragg would defend. Sensitive to the political requirements that almost no Tennessee ground be yielded to Federal control, he chose the relatively flat area northwest of the politically influential city, straddling the Stones River. Portions of the area, particularly near the intersection of the Nashville Pike and the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, were characterized by small but dense cedar forests, in places more impenetrable to infantry than the Wilderness of Virginia. Short limestone outcroppings, separated by narrow cracks as if rows of teeth, impeded the movement of wagons and artillery. Hardee's Corps was initially placed in Triune, about 20 miles (32 km) to the west, Polk's on the west bank of the river, and a detached division from Hardee's Corps under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge on the low hills east of the river. None of the troops were ordered to construct field fortifications. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x768, 171 KB) Summary Photographed at Stones River National Battlefield by Hal Jespersen, December 2005. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x768, 171 KB) Summary Photographed at Stones River National Battlefield by Hal Jespersen, December 2005. ... Colonel (IPA: or ) is a military rank of a commissioned officer, with the corresponding ranks existing in nearly every country in the world. ... Combatants American Revolutionaries French Monarchy Spanish Empire Dutch Republic Oneida and Tuscarora tribes Polish volunteers Prussian volunteers Kingdom of Great Britain Iroquois Confederacy Hessian mercenaries Loyalists Commanders George Washington Nathanael Greene Gilbert de La Fayette Comte de Rochambeau Bernardo de Gálvez Tadeusz KoÅ›ciuszko Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Sir... Hardy Murfree (1743(?) - 1809) founded the town of Murfreesboro, North Carolina, where he lived for most of his adult life. ... The Duck River of Tennessee is the longest river located entirely within the state of Tennessee. ... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Ulysses S. Grant George G. Meade Robert E. Lee Strength 101,895 61,025 Casualties 18,400 11,400 For the French and Indian War battle, see Battle of the Wilderness 1755. ... Official language(s) English Capital Richmond Largest city Virginia Beach Area  Ranked 35th  - Total 42,793 sq mi (110,862 km²)  - Width 200 miles (320 km)  - Length 430 miles (690 km)  - % water 7. ... John C. Breckinridge This article is about the politician and Confederate General. ...


By the time Rosecrans had arrived in Murfreesboro on the evening of December 29, the Army of Tennessee had been encamped in the area for a month. By nightfall, two thirds of Rosecrans's army was in position along the Nashville Turnpike, and by the next day Rosecrans's army numbered about 45,000 and Bragg's 38,000. The odds were closer than those figures would indicate. Bragg had the advantage of the detached, but cooperating, cavalry commands under Forrest and Morgan, who raided deeply behind Union lines while Wheeler's cavalry slowed the Union forces with hit-and-run skirmishes. (Part of Rosecrans's reluctance to move from Nashville was the inexperience of his cavalry forces in comparison to their Confederate counterparts.) On December 29, Wheeler and 2,500 of his men rode completely around the Union army, destroying supply wagons and capturing reserve ammunition in Rosecrans's trains. They captured four wagon trains and 1,000 Union prisoners. December 29 is the 363rd day of the year (364th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 2 days remaining. ... December 29 is the 363rd day of the year (364th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 2 days remaining. ...


On December 30, the Union force moved into line two miles (3 km) northwest of Murfreesboro. The two armies were in parallel lines, about 4 miles (6 km) long, oriented from southwest to northeast. Bragg's left flank was weak at the start, and Rosecrans could have attacked there when he arrived and wheeled left, around the flank and directly into the town of Murfreesboro, but he did not know the full disposition of Bragg's forces because of the skillful screening of the Confederate cavalry during the Union march. In a manner similar to the previous year's First Battle of Bull Run, both commanders devised similar plans for the following day: envelop the enemy's right, get into his rear, and cut him off from his base. Since both plans were the same, the victory would probably go to the side that was able to attack first. Rosecrans ordered his men to be ready to attack after breakfast, but Bragg ordered an attack at dawn. December 30 is the 364th day of the year (365th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 1 day remaining. ... “Flanking” redirects here. ... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Irvin McDowell Joseph E. Johnston P.G.T. Beauregard Strength 35,000 effectives 32,500 effectives Casualties 2,896 (460 killed, 1,124 wounded, 1,312 captured/missing) 1,982 (387 killed, 1,582 wounded, 13 missing) The First Battle...

Movements and positions the night of December 30 to December 31.
Movements and positions the night of December 30 to December 31.

Bragg's forces were situated with Polk's corps on the west side of the river, Hardee on the east. He had expected Rosecrans to attack on December 30, but when that attack did not come, his plan was to drive Hardee's corps and the cavalry under Brig. Gen. John A. Wharton deep into the Union rear. He began moving the bulk of Hardee's corps across the river to his left flank in preparation for the next morning's attack. This left Breckinridge's division in reserve on the east side of the river on the high ground. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1396x1199, 406 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions on December 30, 1862. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1396x1199, 406 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions on December 30, 1862. ... December 30 is the 364th day of the year (365th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 1 day remaining. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... December 30 is the 364th day of the year (365th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 1 day remaining. ... John Austin Wharton (July 23, 1828 – April 6, 1865) was a lawyer, plantation owner, and Confederate general during the American Civil War. ...


Rosecrans planned to have Crittenden cross the river and attack the heights east of the river, which would be an excellent artillery platform from which to bombard the entire Confederate line. Crittenden—facing Breckinridge on the Union left—failed to notify McCook (on the Union right) of these troop movements. McCook, anticipating that the next day would start with a major attack by Crittenden, planted numerous campfires in his area, hoping to deceive the Confederates as to his strength on that flank, and to disguise the fact that his flank was not anchored on an obstacle (the nearby Overall Creek). Thomas, in the center, was ordered to make a limited attack and act as the pivot for Crittenden's wheel.


The armies bivouacked only 700 yards from each other, and their bands started a musical battle that became a non-lethal preview of the next day's events. Northern musicians played Yankee Doodle and Hail, Columbia and they were answered by Dixie and The Bonnie Blue Flag. Finally, one band started playing Home Sweet Home and the others joined in. Thousands of Northern and Southern soldiers sang the sentimental song together across the lines.


December 31

December 31, 8:00 a.m.
December 31, 8:00 a.m.

At dawn on December 31, about 6 a.m., Confederate General William J. Hardee struck first, attacking the Union's right flank with the division of Maj. Gen. John P. McCown, before many in Union Brig. Gen. Richard W. Johnson's division had finished their breakfast. (This was the third major battle, after Fort Donelson and Shiloh, in which an early morning attack caught a Union army by surprise.) The 10,000 Confederates who massed on their left attacked in one massive wave. McCook's deceptive campfires and the relative inexperience of Gen. McCown caused his division drift away to the left, which left a gap in the front, but the gap was filled seamlessly by the division coming up from his rear, under Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne. These two divisions swept all resistance aside. Several artillery batteries were captured without having time to fire a shot. Johnson's division, on the right, suffered over 50% casualties. His neighboring Union division to the left, under Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, was able to hold only briefly. December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1391x1181, 452 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 0800, December 31, 1862. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1391x1181, 452 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 0800, December 31, 1862. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... William J. Hardee (1817-1873) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. ... John Porter McCown (1815 - 1879) was a Confederate Major General in the American Civil War. ... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Ulysses S. Grant Andrew H. Foote John B. Floyd Gideon J. Pillow Simon B. Buckner Strength 24,531 District of Cairo & Western Flotilla 16,171 Casualties 2,691 (507 killed, 1,976 wounded, 208 captured/missing) 13,846 (327 killed... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Ulysses S. Grant, Don Carlos Buell Albert Sidney Johnston â€ , P.G.T. Beauregard Strength Army of West Tennessee (48,894), Army of the Ohio (17,918) Army of Mississippi (44,699) Casualties 13,047: 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded... Patrick Cleburne Patrick Ronayne Cleburne (March 16 or 17, 1828 – November 30, 1864) was a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, killed at the Battle of Franklin. ... This article needs cleanup. ...


Although meeting stiff resistance, Hardee drove the Union troops back three miles (5 km) to the railroad and the Nashville Pike by 10 a.m., where Johnson was able to rally them. Rosecrans canceled Crittenden's attack on the Confederate right, which had begun with Brig. Gen. Horatio P. Van Cleve's division crossing the river at 7 a.m., and instead rushed reinforcements to his own right flank. He had been slow to recognize the threat, assuming incorrectly that McCook would be capable of turning back Hardee's assault. As Rosecrans raced across the battlefield directing units, seeming ubiquitous to his men, his uniform was covered with blood from his friend and chief of staff, Colonel Julius Garesché, beheaded by a cannonball while riding alongside. Horatio Phillips Van Cleve (November 23, 1809 – August 24, 1891) was a Union general in the American Civil War. ...

December 31, 9:45 a.m.
December 31, 9:45 a.m.

The second Confederate wave was by the corps of Leonidas Polk, the divisions of Maj. Gens. Jones M. Withers and Benjamin F. Cheatham. What saved the Union from total destruction that morning was the foresight of Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan (McCook's wing), who anticipated an early attack and had the troops of his division up and ready in the center of the right half of the line by 4 a.m. Withers hit Sheridan's right flank first (and Davis's left) but was repulsed in three separate charges. Then Cheatham, the reserve division, hit Sheridan's front as Cleburne struck his flank. Cheatham's assault was sluggish and piecemeal; observers claimed he had been drinking heavily and was unable to command his units effectively. While Sheridan's men slowed the enemy advance, they did it at heavy cost to themselves; all three of Sheridan's brigade commanders were killed that day, and more than one third of his men were casualties in four hours of fighting in a cedar forest surrounded on three sides that became known as "The Slaughter Pen". By 10 a.m., many of the Confederate objectives had been achieved. They had captured 28 guns and over 3,000 Union soldiers. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1391x1196, 349 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 09:45, December 31, 1862. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1391x1196, 349 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 09:45, December 31, 1862. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Benjamin F. Cheatham Benjamin Franklin Cheatham (October 20, 1820 – September 4, 1886), known also as Frank, was a Tennessee farmer, California gold miner, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. ... Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888) was a career U.S. Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. ...

December 31, 11:00 a.m.
December 31, 11:00 a.m.

Two Confederate blunders aided Rosecrans. Breckinridge, on the east side of the river, did not realize that Crittenden's early morning attack had been withdrawn. He refused to send two brigades as reinforcements across the river to aid the main attack on the left. When Bragg ordered him to attack to his front—so that some use could be made of his corps—Breckinridge moved forward and was embarrassed to find out that there were no Union troops opposing him. At about that time, Bragg received a false report that a strong Union force was moving south along the Lebanon Turnpike in his direction. He canceled his orders that Breckinridge send reinforcements across the river, which diluted the effectiveness of the main attack. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1407x1192, 345 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 11:00, December 31, 1862. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1407x1192, 345 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 11:00, December 31, 1862. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


By 11 a.m., Sheridan's ammunition ran low, and his division pulled back, which opened a gap that Hardee exploited. The Union troops regrouped and held the Nashville Pike, supported by reinforcements and massed artillery. Repeated attacks on the left flank of the Union line were repulsed by Colonel William B. Hazen's brigade in a rocky, four-acre wooded area named "Round Forest" by the locals; it became known as "Hell's Half-Acre". Hazen's brigade was the only part of the original Union line to hold. The Union line was stabilized by the strong leadership of Rosecrans and by the rallying of the divisions under Johnson and Davis. The new line was roughly perpendicular to the original line, in a small half oval with its back to the river. Artillery with Gabion fortification Cannons on display at Fort Point Continental Artillery crew from the American Revolution Firing of an 18-pound gun, Louis-Philippe Crepin, (1772 – 1851) A forge-welded Iron Cannon in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. ... William Babcock Hazen William Babcock Hazen (September 27, 1830 – January 16, 1887) was a career U.S. Army officer who served in the Indian Wars, as a Union general in the American Civil War, and as Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. Army. ... In military science a brigade is a military unit that is part of a division and includes regiments (where that level exists), or (in modern armies) is composed of several battalions (typically two to four) and directly attached supporting units. ...


Bragg planned to attack the Union left, a portion of the oval line facing southeast, manned by Hazen's brigade. The only troops available for such an assault were Breckinridge's, and Bragg ordered him to cross the river, but Breckinridge moved slowly. By 4 p.m., Breckinridge's first two brigades assaulted Hazen in piecemeal attacks and suffered heavy repulses. Two more brigades arrived, and they were sent in, reinforced by other elements of Polk's corps. The attack failed a second time. Thomas responded with a limited counterattack that cleared his front. By 4:30 p.m., the battle was finished.

December 31, 4:00 p.m.
December 31, 4:00 p.m.

Bragg's plan had had a fundamental flaw: although his objective was to cut Rosecrans's line of communication (the Nashville Pike), his attack drove the Union defenders to concentrate at that point. Bragg's biographer, Grady McWhiney, observed: Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1436x1199, 389 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 16:00, December 31, 1862. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1436x1199, 389 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 16:00, December 31, 1862. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Unless the Union army collapsed at the first onslaught, it would be pushed back into a tighter and stronger defensive position as the battle continued, while the Confederate forces would gradually lose momentum, become disorganized, and grow weaker. Like a snowball, the Federals would pick up strength from the debris of battle if they retreated in good order. But the Confederates would inevitably unwind like a ball of string as they advanced.

That night Rosecrans held a council of war to decide what to do. Some of his generals felt that the Union army had been defeated and recommended a retreat before they were entirely cut off. Rosecrans opposed this view and was strongly supported by Thomas and Crittenden. Thomas has been quoted by different sources in the council meeting as saying either "This army does not retreat" or "There's no better place to die." The decision was made to stand and fight, and as the Union line was reinforced, the morale of the soldiers rose. Rosecrans was quoted after the battle as saying, "Bragg's a good dog, but Hold Fast's a better." A council of war is a term in military science that describes a meeting held to decide on a course of action, usually in the midst of a battle. ...


On the Confederate side, Bragg was certain that he had won a victory. Although he had suffered 9,000 casualties, he was convinced that the large number of captured Union soldiers meant that Rosecrans had lost considerably more. The Confederate army began digging in, facing the Union line. Bragg sent a telegram to Richmond before he went to bed: "The enemy has yielded his strong position and is falling back. We occupy [the] whole field and shall follow him. ... God has granted us a happy New Year." Nickname: Motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra (Thus do we reach the stars) Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia Coordinates: Country United States State Virginia County Independent City Government  - Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (I) Area  - City 62. ...


January 1 to January 3

January 2, 4:00 p.m.
January 2, 4:00 p.m.
January 2, 4:45 p.m.
January 2, 4:45 p.m.

At 3 a.m. on January 1, 1863, Rosecrans revived his original plan and ordered Van Cleve's division (commanded by Col. Samuel Beatty following Van Cleve's wounding the previous day) to cross the river and occupy the heights there, protecting two river crossing sites and providing a good platform for artillery. But the day was relatively quiet as both armies observed New Year's Day by resting and tending to their wounded. Polk launched two probes of the Union line, one against Thomas, the other against Sheridan, to little effect. January 1 is the first day of the calendar year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. ... January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1423x1192, 359 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 16:00, January 2, 1863. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1423x1192, 359 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 16:00, January 2, 1863. ... January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1425x1195, 334 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 16:45, January 2, 1863. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1425x1195, 334 KB)Map of the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War, actions at 16:45, January 2, 1863. ... January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... January 1 is the first day of the calendar year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. ... Year 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... This article is about January 1 in the Gregorian calendar. ...


In the rear, Wheeler's cavalry continued to harass the Union line of communication on the turnpike back to Nashville. Convoys of wounded had to travel under heavy escort to be protected from the cavalry, and Wheeler interpreted these movements as preparations for a retreat, and he reported such to Bragg. Buoyed by his sense that he had won the battle, Bragg was content to wait for Rosecrans to retreat.


At 4 p.m. on January 2, Bragg directed Breckinridge's troops to attack Beatty's division, which was occupying the hill on the east side of the river. Breckinridge initially protested that the assault would be suicidal but eventually agreed and attacked with determination. The Union troops were pushed back across McFadden Ford, but the Confederate charge ran into heavy fire from massed Union artillery across the river, commanded by Crittenden's artillery chief, Captain John Mendenhall. Mendenhall deployed his guns perfectly—45 arrayed hub-to-hub, completely commanding the opposite bank and heights beyond—and saved the day for Rosecrans. The Confederate attack stalled, having suffered over 1,800 casualties in less than an hour. A Union division under the command of James S. Negley (Thomas's wing) led a counterattack at 4:45 p.m., and the Confederate troops retreated. Breckinridge was devastated by the disaster. He lost nearly one third of his Kentucky troops (Hanson's Brigade, also known as the Orphan Brigade because it could not return to Union-occupied Kentucky). As he rode among the survivors, he cried out repeatedly, "My poor Orphans! My poor Orphans." January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... A ford is a section of water (most commonly a section of a river) that is sufficiently shallow as to be traversable by wading. ... John Mendenhall (born December 3, 1948 in Cullen, Louisiana) is a former American football defensive tackle who played eoght seasons in the National Football League for the New York Giants. ... James Scott Negley (1896_1901) was a U.S. soldier, farmer and U.S. Congressman. ... Roger Weightman Hanson (August 27, 1827 – January 4, 1863) was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. ... The Orphan Brigade was the nickname of the First Kentucky Brigade, a group of military units recruited from the Commonwealth of Kentucky to fight for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. ...


On the morning of January 3, a large supply train and reinforced infantry brigade reached Rosecrans. Wheeler's cavalry attempted to capture the ammunition train that followed it but was repulsed. Late that evening, Thomas attacked the center of the Confederate line with two regiments in reaction to constant enemy sharpshooting against troops in his division under Lovell H. Rousseau. Thomas drove the Confederates from their entrenchments, taking 70 to 80 prisoners. (Despite this action, the main battle is generally accepted to have ended on January 2.) January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...


Bragg was convinced that Rosecrans would continue to receive reinforcements, and he knew that the miserable weather of freezing rain could raise the river enough to split his army. Beginning at 10 p.m. on January 3, he withdrew through Murfreesboro and began a retreat to Tullahoma, Tennessee, 36 miles (58 km) to the south. Rosecrans occupied Murfreesboro but made no attempt to pursue Bragg. January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Tullahoma is a city in Coffee County and Franklin County, Tennessee, in the south-central part of the state. ...


Aftermath

Total casualties in the battle were 23,515: 13,249 on the Union side and 10,266 for the Confederates. This was the highest percentage of casualties of any major battle in the Civil War, higher in absolute numbers than the famous bloodbaths at Shiloh and Antietam earlier that year. The battle was tactically inconclusive, although Bragg was traditionally considered to be defeated since he withdrew first from the battlefield. He received almost universal scorn from his Confederate military colleagues; only his personal friendship with President Jefferson Davis saved his command. But a case can also be made that it was at least a strategic Union victory. The battle was very important to Union morale, as evidenced by Abraham Lincoln's letter to General Rosecrans: "You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over." The Confederate threat to Middle Tennessee had been nullified. Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Ulysses S. Grant, Don Carlos Buell Albert Sidney Johnston â€ , P.G.T. Beauregard Strength Army of West Tennessee (48,894), Army of the Ohio (17,918) Army of Mississippi (44,699) Casualties 13,047: 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders George B. McClellan Robert E. Lee Strength 87,000 45,000 Casualties 12,401 (2,108 killed, 9,540 wounded, 753 captured/missing) 10,316 (1,546 killed, 7,752 wounded, 1,018 captured/missing) The Battle of Antietam (also... Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history from 1861 to 1865 during the American Civil War. ... For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation). ...


Rosecrans spent five and a half months reinforcing Murfreesboro. The massive earthenworks "Fort Rosecrans" was built there and served as a supply depot for the remainder of the war. The next major clash, the Battle of Hoover's Gap, also known as the Tullahoma Campaign, did not come until June, when Rosecrans finally moved his army against Bragg. The Battle of Hoovers Gap was the principal battle fought in the Tullahoma Campaign (also known as the Middle Tennessee Campaign) of the American Civil War. ...


Part of the site of the Battle of Stones River and Fort Rosecrans is now Stones River National Battlefield. It contains the nation's oldest intact Civil War monument, erected by William Hazen's brigade at Hell's Half Acre. The 600 acre (2.4 km²) National Battlefield includes Stones River National Cemetery, established in 1865, with more than 6,000 Union graves. Stones River National Battlefield is a unit of the National Park Service at 3501 Old Nashville Highway in Murfreesboro, Tennessee along the Stones River. ... 1865 (MDCCCLXV) is a common year starting on Sunday. ...


See also

The following Confederate States Army units and commanders fought in the Battle of Stones River. ... The following Union Army units and commanders fought in the Battle of Stones River of the American Civil War. ...

References

  • Cozzens, Peter, No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River, University of Illinois Press, 1990, ISBN 0-252-01652-1.
  • Eicher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84944-5.
  • Esposito, Vincent J., West Point Atlas of American Wars, Frederick A. Praeger, 1959. (Source for map data.)
  • Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fredericksburg to Meridian, Random House, 1958, ISBN 0-394-49517-9.
  • Hattaway, Herman, and Jones, Archer, How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War, University of Illinois Press, 1983, ISBN 0-252-00918-5.
  • McWhiney, Grady, Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat, Columbia University Press, 1969, ISBN 0-231-02881-4.
  • McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States), Oxford University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-19-503863-0.
  • Rosecrans, William S. Official Report from the Battle of Stones River, February 12, 1863.

Shelby Foote (November 17, 1916 – June 27, 2005) was a noted author and historian of the American Civil War. ... For the Civil War General of a similar name see James B. McPherson James M. McPherson (born October 11, 1936) is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis 86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. ...

Further reading

  • Lamers, William M., The Edge of Glory: A Biography of General William S. Rosecrans, U.S.A, Louisiana State University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8071-2396-X.

External links

  • Stones River National Battlefield
  • National Park Service battle description
  • The Battle of Stones River: The Soldiers' Story online lesson plan from the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places
  • West Point Atlas map of the campaign and battle
  • Maps and aerial photos Coordinates: 35.88006° -86.43540°
    • Street map from Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps
    • Topographic map from TopoZone
    • Aerial image or topographic map from TerraServer-USA
    • Satellite image from Google Maps or Microsoft Virtual Earth

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Filson Civil War Field Institute Homepage (982 words)
The fierce battle at Stones River took place between Dec. 31, 1862 and Jan. 2, 1863.
The battlefield which includes Stones River National Cemetery was established in 1865, with no more than 6,000 Union graves; and the Hazen Brigade Monument, believed to be the oldest, intact Civil War monument still standing in its original location.
An hour-long walk back in time through the Stones River National Cemetery, Hallowed Ground is a program dedicated to allowing visitors to appreciate the cost of war through the stories of soldiers, and their loved ones, who are buried in Stones River National Cemetery.
Battle of Stones River (3519 words)
Stones River was more or less easy to wade across, but in many places its banks were steep and lined with trees.
This portion of Stones River National Battlefield and the areas south and west of it were scenes of intense fighting on the first day of the battle when confederate troops overwhelmed and drove back the right flank of Rosecran's army.
From the battle's first pop of musket fire, the men of the 78th, or at least Thompson Gibson was confident that McCook's troops would be able to hold their positions.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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