Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862 - January 2, 1863)

Also Known As: Battle of Murfreesboro

Updated: September 28, 2016

The Battle of Stones River, also known as the Battle of Murfreesboro, was a land engagement fought near Murfreesboro, Tennessee during the American Civil War, between December 31, 1862 and January 2, 1863.

Following the Battle of Perryville (October 8, 1862), Confederate General Braxton Bragg called off his Heartland Offensive and withdrew his forces from Kentucky to Tennessee. There, Bragg's command was reorganized, consolidating with the General Kirby Smith's Army of Kentucky to form the Army of Tennessee. In November, Bragg established a defensive position along the west fork of Stones River, near Murfreesboro, intent on preventing a Union advance on Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Frustrated because the Union forces did not immediately pursue Bragg during his retreat from Kentucky, President Abraham Lincoln relieved Major General Don Carlos Buell of his command and placed Major General William Rosecrans in charge of the newly-formed XIV Army Corps (informally known as the Army of the Cumberland) on October 24, 1862. Upon Rosecrans's promotion, Union General-In-Chief Henry Halleck made it clear that "…the Government demands action, and if you cannot respond to that demand some one else will be tried." Rosecrans quickly established headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee and prepared his army for battle. On December 26, Rosecrans left Nashville with approximately 44,000 men, prepared to engage Bragg's army of approximately 38,000 soldiers encamped at Murfreesboro.

The Army of the Cumberland approached Murfreesboro along the Nashville Turnpike and Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. Rosecrans found Bragg's army on December 29, and his men moved into line the next day. On December 30, the two armies were facing each other in parallel lines about four miles long. Each general planned to engage the other's right flank the next day, but Bragg launched his assault first, attacking at dawn. The Rebels drove the Federals back initially, but the Union lines eventually held when Rosecrans sent reinforcements from his left flank. By the end of the day, Bragg was certain he had secured a victory, but the Federals established a new and stronger line. On January 1, neither army attacked. The next day, Bragg continued his assault on the Union lines, but the Federals offered stronger resistance from their new positions. With the assistance of artillery support, the Union soldiers repulsed the assault, forcing the Rebels back to their original position. On January 3, Rosecrans received reinforcements and new supplies of ammunition, convincing Bragg that further assaults would be fruitless. Thus, he withdrew his men to Tullahoma, Tennessee, thirty-six miles to the south, yielding Murfreesboro to Rosecrans.

Ohio units that fought at the Battle of Stones River included:

Infantry units:

  • 1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 6th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 9th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 13th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 14th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 17th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 24th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 26th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 31st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 33rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 35th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 38th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 41st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 49th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 51st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 52nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 59th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 64th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 65th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 69th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 74th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 79th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 90th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 93rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 94th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 97th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 99th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 101st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 105th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Artillery units:

  • Battery A, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery B, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery C, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery D, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery E, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery F, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery G, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • Battery M, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
  • 6th Ohio Light Artillery

Cavalry units:

  • 1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
  • 3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
  • 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

The Battle of Stones River was a particularly deadly battle, even by Civil War standards. The Confederates suffered over 10,000 casualties and the Federals suffered over 13,000. Total casualties for the battle were comparable to the carnage at Shiloh and Antietam. The percentage of casualties at Stones River was higher than any other battle in the Civil War. The Union victory was a significant morale booster in the North. President Lincoln congratulated Rosecrans stating, "You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over." Rosecrans chose not to pursue Bragg until June, when the two armies met again at the Battle of Hoover's Gap, near Tullahoma. Instead, Rosecrans set about reinforcing his position at Murfreesboro, establishing a supply depot that served the Union for the remainder of the war.

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Battle of Stones River," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 24 Jun 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=209>

APA Style

"Battle of Stones River." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved June 24, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=209

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