Skip to comments.150th Anniversary of the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Posted on 12/31/2012 5:02:29 AM PST by Timber Rattler
150 years ago, the fields and forests near Murfreesboro saw one of the bloodiest and most important battles of the American Civil War. Join park rangers and volunteers for a variety of programs that tell the story of this tragic event that affected the lives of thousands and continues to affect our lives today.
(Excerpt) Read more at nps.gov ...
4,000 soldiers killed (in total for both sides) and another 16,000 maimed or wounded. Since it was freezing cold, many of the wounded out in the woods died of frostbite or hypothermia. It was a miserable experience for all involved, and Lincoln and Stanton owned all of it.
That's a load of garbage.
First, the point of the battle from the Union perspective was to capitalize on Bragg's failure to control Kentucky by pursuing his army into Tennessee.
The battle did have a point, and a very important point at that - to destroy Bragg and the Confederate Army of the Tennessee.
Second, Lincoln did not demand this battle in particular - the battle began when Bragg initiated fighting.
Lincoln's long-time stated goal - well before the Emancipation Proclamation - was the establishment of the Unionist stronghold of East Tennessee as a beachhead for striking at the center of the Confederacy.
This was a consistent policy he followed from the start of hostilities until Sherman's March to the Sea.
Lincoln needed some sort of "victory" so that he could have the political cover he needed for Emancipation.
First off, Lincoln was still ticked off at McClellan, and had just driven Burnside to make his hopeless attacks at Fredericksburg. After that debacle, he and Stanton harassed Burnside into launching his pathetic Mud March on January 20.
Meanwhile, Lincoln was also goading Rosecrans into making the same sort of mistake out West, which resulted in Murfreesboro. In fact, Union General-In-Chief Henry Halleck had telegraphed Rosecrans and explicitly told him that, the Government demands action, and if you cannot respond to that demand some one else will be tried.
Never mind the fact, that it was winter, it was cold and rainy, and the roads in terrible shape. And there was no real strategic objective except to "destroy the Confederate Army," which nobody had any specific plan on how to accomplish at that point.
After the battle, both armies retreated back to where they started and sat there until the late spring.
For those of you in Rio Linda...this is about the Civil War.
(Mick Jagger only LOOKS 150...)
We visited the Stones River site last winter (my daughter became a junior ranger of the Park, which she loved). I was just in awe as we walked Hell’s Half-Acre (a little scrap of ground just off the highway) and stood at the ridge looking down into the river where so many men died. I cannot imagine demanding a charge on a hill loaded with men and cannon...and I cannot imagine following the order to your death. It was chilling. The Slaughterpen was sobering as well (granite crags where Union soldiers were caught between 2 Confederate forces and slaughtered — the terrain is slippery and full of deep crevices and impossible to run on; my daughter and I did our best to walk it quickly, and even in calm conditions, concentrating, it was tricky).
I highly recommend a trip there, if you have the opportunity. Many well-preserved and documented Civil War sites in middle Tennessee — and with an interesting perspective that I was certainly never taught in school.
Saw the title and thought I was going to enjoy a history moment. Instead we’re treated to Lost Cause Loser revisionism.
The responsibility and the blame rest squarely upon the shoulders of the curs who instigated, initiated, and sought this war - the southron democrat slavers.
They wanted war, they maneuvered themselves into war, and war is what they got.
Lincoln demanded the CSA Army attack the USA Army on this date in order to give Lincoln political cover?
Why do you think the CSA went along with this demand?
The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued and a matter of public record 3 months before this battle happened. It would become law in January 1st, 1863, 100 days after it was first publicly announced.
First, he had made the announcement on September 22nd after a technical victory at Antietam and followed it up with victory at Perryville.
While the EP did not become effective until Jan 1, 1863 it was already a done deal.
The Union was always in need of a victory, of course. But that does not mean that Lincoln or any of his generals fought battles expecting to lose or fought battles with no tactical or strategic purpose.
Lincoln was still ticked off at McClellan, and had just driven Burnside
Burnside was a grown adult who made his own decisions. If he felt he was "driven" to make bad decisions, he should have resigned.
Lincoln was also goading Rosecrans into making the same sort of mistake out West, which resulted in Murfreesboro
You mean that the President expected his generals to do their jobs, instead of sitting around doing nothing? What should the Union have done instead? Refused to capitalize on the gains at Perryville and given the Confederates a few extra months to recoup?
Never mind the fact, that it was winter, it was cold and rainy, and the roads in terrible shape.
Oh well, time to quit then.
Better to lose men to disease in winter quarters and get nothing done than to lose men to combat and achieve something, right?
And there was no real strategic objective except to "destroy the Confederate Army,"
What better strategic objective could there have been?
What other point could there have been to any Union victory?
You end an insurrection by ending the ability of your enemy to put effective forces in the field - not by building earthworks and hoping they will go away.
which nobody had any specific plan on how to accomplish at that point.
The McClellan plan was to wait months for everything to line up exactly perfectly, then fight a setpiece battle and then wait several months more for the stars to align again. Twelve weeks before Murfreesboro the Union had abandoned that hopeless strategy and began a new one - continually giving the enemy battle.
It was a strategy that took time to get right, but when it came together it turned out to be devastating.
After the battle, both armies retreated back to where they started
When he started, Rosecrans was in Nashville and he ended up in Murfreesboro. When Bragg started he was in Murfreesboro and he ended up in Tullahoma.
and sat there until the late spring.
Bragg was bottled up in a poorly-settled area known for its poor provisioning and Rosecrans had Nashville in his rear as an excellent logistics base.
Rosecrans was able to increase his effectives by 40% while taking Bragg off the chessboard for 6 months as Grant ramped up the Vicksburg campaign.
When Rosecrans did move, he forced Bragg to Chattanooga.
You can say that as often as you want, but the historical facts contradict you.
As a result of Stones River, the Confederate forces became a nonfactor in Kentucky and Tennessee.
What had once been an army of northern expansion threatening the Union's West became - as a direct result of Stones River - an almost completely defensive army trying to prevent the Union from entering Georgia and splitting the Confederacy in half.
My great X 4 uncle Milton Craig was in the 97th Illinois on the right Union flank in Kirk’s brigade commanded by Richard Johnson. They were still eating breakfast when Confederates under John McCown and Patrick Cleburne smashed into them. Johnson’s division suffered 50% casualties in the FIRST HALF HOUR of the battle. Milton was one of them, later dying of his wounds on January 1st.
One may point out, as Lincoln did, that Scripture describes rain as falling equally on the just and the unjust.
Bad weather affected the Confederates as much as it did the Union forces.
Good point to make.
Underlying much of this, too, was teaching Union soldiers and citizens that the Confederate soldier's constant advertisement of himself as invincible would be less effective as propaganda the more the Union soldier fought him.
Unlike Burnside at Fredericksburg, Rosecrans at Stones River gave every bit as good as he got and kept the field.
That meant a lot in the ranks and back home.