Civil War Sesquicentennial: Battle of Stones River

Civil War Sesquicentennial: Battle of Stones River

As the Civil War entered its grueling second year in December 1862, the Northern public’s war fatigue was palpable to President Abraham Lincoln and his generals. They needed a game changer to regain momentum and reassure the North after their crushing defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Battle of Stones River, which was fought from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863, and incurred more than 24,000 casualties, would boost Union morale and secure a major Union supply base for the rest of the war.

While Gen. Burnside and Gen. Grant were leading Northern advances on Virginia and Mississippi respectively, the control of Tennessee was in the hands of Gen. Rosecrans. Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was important to both the North and the South because of its strategic location between Nashville and Chattanooga, and its railroad and roadway connections.

During the early morning hours of December 31, 1862, Gen. Rosecrans’s Union army repelled Gen. Bragg’s first strike on the banks of Stones River. After long hours of intense fighting, Bragg was convinced that the Union army would retreat. Though they were spent and weakened, Rosecrans would soon be receiving reinforcements. The Union army held their ground, and Bragg was forced to retreat. This important strategic victory gave the North control of Middle Tennessee.

President Lincoln praised the Battle of Stones River in a letter to Gen. Rosecrans: “You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

The Southern threat to Middle Tennessee was over, and Nashville became a major Union supply base for the rest of the war. The lasting effects of this battle still resonate deeply with Murfreesboro locals. Many residents fought and died in this battle. “Of all the horrors that ever greeted a boy’s eyes, here was the worst of them. Thousands of soldiers, killed where they stood – no breasts works – and here they lay in heaps, ready for burial,” said John McCline, an escaped slave who worked for the 13th Michigan at Stones River.

History buffs are frequent B&B guests, and a getaway to The Manor at Twin Oaks Bed and Breakfast, a Murfreesboro, TN, bed and breakfast inn, would put them minutes from the Stones River National Battlefield. Guests can visit the actual location where the Union army made their stand; pay tribute to the fallen soldiers at the Stones River National Cemetery; or watch the wild turkeys run along the battlefield trails. Upon return to the inn, they can mingle with other guests at the inn’s evening social hour before relaxing on the upstairs veranda.

For more ideas on planning a Civil War getaway including cities to visit, historic battlefields and nearby B&Bs, visit our “Civil War Sesquicentennial” Pinterest board.

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