Stones River, Tennessee (December 31 1862 – Jan 2 1863)
By late 1862, the war was in full swing. As you’ve no doubt seen in the battles that have preceded this one on this list, the number of casualties was only one thing that determined the winner of each particular battle. For example, morale plays a big role in what side is determined as the winner.
The Battle of Stones River, or the Second Battle of Murfreesboro as it is sometimes known, is one battle where the casualty numbers don’t tell the whole story. This was a series of battles at the end of 1862 and the beginning of 1863 that determined the winners of Middle Tennessee. The battle itself was determined as inconclusive, but the North was able to successfully repel the southern attack twice, and forced the Army of Braxton Bragg to retreat and move on.
Stones River Statistics
Total Troops: North – 41,400 South – 35,000
Casualties – North – 12,906 South – 11,739 Total – 24,645
This came after a huge defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The morale boost that the North received after the Battle of Stones River was something that was very important. By forcing the Confederate withdrawal from Middle Tennessee, the Union was able to establish a major supply base in Nashville, which opened up their ability to support battles further into the South.
For the Confederacy, the ‘loss’ at Stones River was more in terms of confidence. Braxton Bragg is a name you’ll hear almost as often as Robert E Lee when it comes to Southern generals. With his forced withdrawal at Stones River, Bragg lost confidence in the Army of Tennessee, and many in the Confederacy lost confidence in Bragg.
The reason for this was that Bragg retreated based on false information. He received information that the Union army had reinforcements on the way, and chose to retreat instead of continue his attacks, that had been rebuffed at least three times during the three day battle. This is another example of when correct information and communication play a large role in determining the outcome of the battle.