After spending January 1, 1863 reorganizing and caring for the wounded, the two armies came to blows again on the afternoon of January 2nd. General Bragg ordered Breckinridge to attack General Horatio Van Cleve's Division (commanded by Colonel Samuel Beatty) occupying a hill overlooking McFadden's Ford on the east side of the river.
No Better Place to Die
The Battle of Stones River
The forces of Braxton Bragg came very close to victory. But the star-crossed Confederate general ended up withdrawing, leaving Rosecrans' Union forces to claim victory by holding the field of battle
Breckinridge reluctantly launched the attack with all five of his brigades at 4 PM. The Confederate charge quickly took the hill and continued on pushing towards the ford. As the Confederates attacked, they came within range of fifty-seven Union cannon massed on the west side of the Stones River. General Crittenden watched as his guns went to work.
“Van Cleve's Division of my command was retiring down the opposite slope, before overwhelming numbers of the enemy, when the guns … opened upon the swarming enemy. The very forest seemed to fall … and not a Confederate reached the river."
The cannon took a heavy toll. In forty-five minutes their concentrated fire killed or wounded more than 1,800 Confederates. A Union counterattack pushed the shattered remnants of Breckinridge's Division back to Wayne's Hill.
Faced with this disaster and the approach of Union reinforcements, General Bragg ordered the Army of Tennessee to retreat on January 3, 1863. Two days later, the battered Union army marched into Murfreesboro and declared victory.
January 2 Afternoon Attack Troop Positions
The Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest of the war. More than 3,000 men lay dead on the field. Nearly 16,000 more were wounded. Some of these men spent as much as seven agonizing days on the battlefield before help could reach them. The two armies sustained nearly 24,000 casualties, which was almost one-third of the 81,000 men engaged.
As the Army of Tennessee retreated they gave up a large chunk of Middle Tennessee. The rich farmland meant to feed the Confederates now supplied the Federals. General Rosecrans set his army and thousands of contraband slaves to constructing a massive fortification, Fortress Rosecrans that served as a supply depot and base of occupation for the Union for the duration of the war.
President Lincoln got the victory he wanted to boost morale and support the Emancipation Proclamation. How important was this victory to the Union? Lincoln himself said it best in a telegram to Rosecrans later in 1863.
“I can never forget, if I remember anything, that at the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the country scarcely could have lived over."
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History
Definitive Reference Work, this volume, rich with over 500 illustrations, 75 maps, and 250 primary source documents, offers more than 1,600 entries that chart the war's strategic aims, analyze diplomatic and political maneuvering, describe key military actions, sketch important participants, assess developments in military science, and discuss the social and financial impact of the conflict.
Decision in the Heartland
The Civil War in the West
The western campaigns cost the Confederacy vast territories, the manufacturing of Nashville, the financial center of New Orleans, communication hub Corinth, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, along with the breadbasket of the Confederacy.
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
All of the "If you Lived at the Time of..." books are great for kids, and also a nice, quick read for adults! What I like about them is their layout, which is easy for readers to follow. Each page begins with a question, "Would you have seen a battle in the South?" for example. Nicely drawn illustrations accompany each answer.
Day Of Tears
Through flashbacks and flash-forwards, and shifting first-person points of view, readers will travel with Emma and others through time and place, and come to understand that every decision has its consequences, and final judgment is passed down not by man, but by his maker.
The Civil War
Introduces young readers to the harrowing true story of the American Civil War and its immediate aftermath. A surprisingly detailed battle-by-battle account of America's deadliest conflict ensues, culminating in the restoration of the Union followed by the tragic assassination of President Lincoln
The Boys War
With the many boys who fought in the civil war most of them lied about their age. A lot of them wrote letters or had a diary. Johnny Clem had run away from his home at 11. At age 12 he tried to enlist but they refused to let him join because he was clearly too young. The next day he came back to join as a drummer boy.
Sources: United States Military Academy
Library of Congress
National Park Service