On the day after Christmas, 1862, Gen. William S. Rosecrans moved his Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville, seeking Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee near Murfreesboro.
By the evening of Dec. 30, the armies faced each other west of Murfreesboro on the banks of Stone’s River. Both generals made plans to attack in the morning. Both planned to strike the enemy’s right flank.
The Confederates struck first and shattered the Union right, but in a desperate day of fighting, Rosecrans was able to hold on. The armies took the next day to catch their breath. The fighting resumed on Jan. 2 with an attack by the Confederate division of John C. Breckinridge. The attack was broken (more than 1,800 Confederates were killed or wounded in 45 minutes) and the countercharge pushed the Confederates back until Bragg was forced to retreat.
The combined toll in the two armies was more than 3,000 dead and 16,000 wounded. And middle Tennessee was open to Union forces. For a good summary of the battle, visit the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov and look up Stones River National Battlefield.
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