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Battle of Stones River

The battle of Stones River was one of the deadliest battles during the American Civil War. The Civil War, fought between the union and the confederates of the United States, was a very costly war, and the battle of Stones River proved to be one of the pivotal moments during the war. The battle took place in Murfreesboro, Tennessee from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863.


During the second year of the civil war, the Union planned three offensives to overwhelm the South. The three offensives were to be launched in Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee. The commander in charge of the Tennessee offensive was General William S Rosecrans. On December 26 Rosecrans and his army left Nashville, Tennessee and marched towards Murfreesboro to confront the Confederate army headed by General Braxton Bragg, which was positioned there.

The two armies met on the banks of the Stones River on 30 December 1862, and battle plans were drawn; in some places solider lines were less than four hundred yards apart. The Union army was 42,000 soldiers strong, whereas the Confederate army only had 35,000 soldiers. Taking into consideration of the numerical disadvantage, Bragg launched a surprise attack early in the morning on December 31, on the Union’s right flank. The Union, not expecting the surprise ambush, was taken aback by the attack.

There was very heavy fighting during the day, and the cold weather further compounded things for the Union army. After six hours of heavy fighting, the Confederates came close to defeating the Union army, however were unable to due to some smart tactics from the Union generals.

Bragg spent the New Year’s Day waiting for the Union army to retreat, as he thought that the damage inflicted upon the Union during the first day was enough for the victory. However no retreats were made and Briggs grew impatient, he ordered a brigade of 4500 soldiers to attack the Union soldiers on January 2nd. He ordered his brigade to attack a hill where some Union soldiers were stationed, to drive them back down across the river.

The Confederate attack was successful at first, in terms of driving the soldiers back, however they were met with a surprise attack. When the Union soldiers were driven back to a shallow river crossing, the Confederates pursued and at this point met a deadly counter attack.

The Union had amassed 58 guns while the Confederates were forming their plans, and unleashed their bombardment on the pursuing Confederate army. Within minutes, 1800 Confederate soldiers were killed or injured. This proved to be the turning point of the battle. With such heavy casualties suffered by the Confederate army, Bragg ordered a retreat of his army, giving the Union a decisive victory.

The Battle of Stone River was a pivotal turning point for the Union army during the civil war. The Union narrowly avoided defeat on the first day, and within a matter of days turned the battle around which heightened their morale, and this victory was used as a stepping stone for further success.

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