Stones River National Battlefield
The Battle of Stones River, a hard earned victory for Lincoln. More than 81,000 men fought here. 23,000 men gave their all in one of the bloodiest battles fought in the Western theater. The defeat of Bragg’s Confederates at Stone River allowed Rosecrans and the Union to control Middle Tennessee and the Union supply route along the Nashville Pike. Murfreesboro was the launching point for the campaigns that slashed through the heart of the South and dealt a deathblow to the Confederacy.
Lincoln needed a victory after the Union defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia and the ongoing struggle to take Vicksburg, Mississippi. Lincoln hoped that General William Rosecran and his army would prove victorious at the Battle of Stones River. A success would bolster the North’s spirits.
DECEMBER 31, 1862
Confederates struck the first blow at dawn. By 10 AM they had driven the Union into the woods but only the Union’s strong resistance in the Slaughter Pen prevented a Union rout. Rosecrans troops beat back the Confederates, inflicting heavy casualties. General Brigg tried to revive his offensive in the Round Forest, which became known as Hell’s Half Acre. Soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky held fast and left hundreds of Confederates dead or wounded. The battle ended at dusk.
Both armies rested. The Confederates dug trenches at the edge of the cotton field. Both prepared for the onslaught they knew was coming on the morrow.
JANUARY 2, 1863
Bragg is surprised to find Union troops on the high ground east of the river. He orders 4,500 men to seize the hill. The assault begins in late afternoon and culminates in the Confederates taking the hill. The Union retreats to the McFadden Ford river crossing with the Feds in pursuit. Here the Confederates are taken by surprise for supporting Union troops have 57 cannon aimed in their direction.
As the Feds come into range, they are fired upon by the Union, Within minutes, 1,800 men lie dead or wounded. The decimated Confederates withdraw.
The Battle of Stones River cost 13, 249 Union soldiers and 10, 266 Confederate soldiers their lives.
Bragg leaves Murfreesboro and Rosecran declares the battle a victory for the North.
STONES RIVER NATIONAL CEMETERY
After the battle, most Union and Confederate soldiers were buried upon the field where they died. In 1865, soldiers of the 111th US Colored Infantry began the grim task of disinterring the dead and reburying the Union dead in the new Stones River National Cemetery.
Over 6,100 Union soldiers are buried here, 2.500 of them are unknown.
Don and I share an interest in Civil War history. Don, had considered becoming an American History teacher at one time and I had family that fought for the South in the “War of Northern Aggression”. It is our intent to visit several Civil War battlefields, monuments and the like as we travel to get a better understanding of it.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid…………………….