First Day - Dec. 31, 1862 - 1:00-4:00pm - The Cotton Field

Stones River National Battlefield, TN

The Battle of Stone's River (also known as the Battle of Murphreesboro) was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and yet, it remains relatively unknown to all but serious Civil War buffs. I have to admit, though I had heard about the battle, I knew little of its cause or how it was carried out or the magnitude of the casualties left in its wake. Stone's River ranks as the 7th bloodiest battle of the Civil War...slightly less so than Shiloh but more so than Antietam. However, if you consider the number of total casualties of 24,615 against the total number of men engaged (~76,000) you get a staggering casualty rate of 32%, the highest of any battle during the Civil War!

The stage was set for the battle at Stone's River many months prior. Following his abortive campaign into Kentucky, Confederate General Braxton Bragg had fallen back south to middle Tennessee near the town of Murphreesboro. There, in late November 1862, Bragg and his Army of the Tennessee dug in and awaited the next move from the Federals. On the Union side, Major General Don Carlos Buell had done little to capitalize on his success in freeing Kentucky of a Confederate threat, letting the Rebel army slip away unmolested. Lincoln could not stand for this and quickly replaced Buell with Major General William S. Rosecrans. Rosecrans first move with his soon-to-be-named Army of the Cumberland was south to Nashville, Tennessee where he set about reorganizing and refitting it. Rosecrans dallied to long however and by the middle of December Washington was making it very clear to him that they expected a move against the Confederates immediately...to wait further would mean his replacement. Rosecrans got the hint. On December 26, 1862 he set out with his army of 41,000 men to meet the waiting Confederates. The three day march was miserable for the soldiers in blue. Rain, sleet, and cold (which would be present throughout the campaign), along with frequent raids by Confederate cavalry were ever-present. By December 30 the two armies faced each other across the fields outside Murphreesboro. Settling down for a cold night, the soldiers on each side had no illusions about what would occur come the first light of dawn...


Battle Statistics


United States of America

Armies Engaged: Army of the Cumberland

Commanding Officer: Major General William Rosecrans

Strength: 41,400

Casualties: 12,906 or 31.2% (1,677 killed, 7,543 wounded, 3,686 captured/missing)


Confederate States

Armies Engaged: Army of Tennessee

Commanding Officer: General Braxton Bragg

Strength: 35,000

Casualties: 11,739 or 33.5% (1,294 killed, 7,945 wounded, 2,500 captured/missing)


  • kw

    on September 5, 2014

    Wow! Well documented! -- Thanks --- Thumbs up to many of the photos - so clear -