BATTLE OF STONES RIVER / MURFEESBORO, TENNESSE / JANUARY 2, 1863
The armies collided along Stones River on New Year's Eve. Facing a
larger Union force (42,000 Union soldiers to 35,000 Confederates),
Bragg launched an attack in bitterly cold morning fog against the
Yankees' right flank. The attack was initially successful in driving the
Union back, but the Yankees did not break. A day of heavy fighting
brought frightful casualties, and the suffering was compounded by
the frigid weather. The Confederates came close to winning, but were
not quite able to turn the Union flank against Stones River. The new
year dawned the next day with each army still in the field and ready
for another fight.
The strike came on January 2, and the Confederates lost the battle.
Bragg attacked against the advice of his generals and lost the
confidence of his army. The Union troops repelled the assault, and
Bragg was forced back to Chattanooga. The North was in control of
central Tennessee, and the Union victory provided a much-needed
moral boost in the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of
Fredericksburg. Stones River was a hard-fought and very bloody
engagement, with some of the highest casualty rates of the war. The
Confederates lost 33 percent of their force, while 31 percent of the
Union force was either killed, wounded, or missing. Combined
casualties totaled nearly 25,000 men. Lincoln later wrote to
Rosecrans, "...you gave us a hard victory which, had there been a
defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over."