Union Forces Achieve A Much Needed Victory at Stones River

Battle of Stones River

Today on December 31, 1862, Union and Confederate forces clash at the Battle of Stones River.

The Battle of Stones River was a major three-day conflict of the American Civil War. The war was not going very smoothly for the Union States and President Lincoln was desperate for a win. They had just suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg only a few weeks before. Confederate General Robert E. Lee was proving to be a worthy opponent and Union forces were looking to rebound. The Western Front of the war was now heating up and the North wanted to drive out the Confederates from Tennessee. So after Christmas Day in 1862, the Union Army began marching south from its headquarters in Nashville under the command of Major General William Rosecrans. After a few days of jockeying for position, the two armies collided at Stones River located near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

On the first day, Confederate General Braxton Bragg successfully led his force of 35,000 soldiers against the hastily prepared Union Army. Rosecrans and his 42,000 troops were quickly overwhelmed and retreated back to their defensive positions. However, they did not break and prepared to defend their position. Over the next two days, Bragg ordered several more assaults against the enemy, but each attempt was successfully repulsed. The Union Army was well-equipped and better trained as their artillery units proved to be too much for the Confederate forces.

After the third day, Bragg was forced to retreat further south and Rosecrans achieved his goal of controlling central Tennessee. In total there were more than 25,000 casualties across both sides at Stones River, making it one of the deadliest battles of the war. The battle was tactically inconclusive as the southern forces managed to escape. Although it was a strategic victory for the north. It certainly provided a much-needed morale boost and reignited confidence across their ranks. Nashville was now securely in Union hands and served as an important supply base for the remainder of the war.

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