As 1862 drew to a close, President Abraham Lincoln was desperate for a military victory. His armies were stalled, and the terrible defeat at Fredericksburg spread a pall of defeat across the nation. There was also the Emancipation Proclamation to consider. The nation needed a victory to bolster morale and support the proclamation when it went into effect on January 1, 1863.
The Confederate Army of Tennessee was camped in Murfreesboro, Tennessee only 30 miles away from General William S. Rosecrans' army in Nashville. General Braxton Bragg chose this area in order to position himself to stop any Union advances towards Chattanooga and to protect the rich farms of Middle Tennessee that were feeding his men.
Union General-In-Chief Henry Halleck telegraphed Rosecrans telling him that, “… the Government demands action, and if you cannot respond to that demand some one else will be tried."
On December 26, 1862, the Union Army of the Cumberland left Nashville to meet the Confederates. This was the beginning of the Stones River Campaign.
Battle Position December 28
Click to Enlarge Map Picture
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
On December 26, 1862, the Union Army of the Cumberland left Nashville to engage Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee. General William S. Rosecrans sent the three wings of his army on different routes in search of the Rebel army.
Rain, sleet and fog combined with spirited resistance from Confederate cavalry slowed the Federal advance. By the evening of December 30, 1862 both armies faced each other in the fields and forests west and south of Murfreesboro.
During the night, Bragg and Rosecrans planned their attacks. Both chose to attack the right flank of the enemy and cut off their supply line and escape route. Bragg extended his lines to the south using all but General John C. Breckinridge's Division of General William Hardee's Corps. This movement of troops left only Breckinridge's men to face Rosecrans's planned onslaught on the east bank of the Stones River with General Thomas J. Crittenden's Left Wing.
While the generals planned, then men lay down in the mud and rocks trying to get some sleep. The bands of both armies played tunes to raise the men's spirits. It was during this "battle of the bands" that one of the most poignant moments of the war occurred. Sam Seay of the First Tennessee Infantry described what happened that evening.
“Just before ‘tattoo' the military bands on each side began their evening music. The still winter night carried their strains to great distance. At every pause on our side, far away could be heard the military bands of the other. Finally one of them struck up ‘Home Sweet Home.' As if by common consent, all other airs ceased, and the bands of both armies as far as the ear could reach, joined in the refrain. Who knows how many hearts were bold next day by reason of that air?"
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.