Force of a Cyclone (Paperback)
The Battle of Stones River, December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863
All of middle Tennessee held its breath when the new year dawned in 1863.
On the previous day, December 31 – the last day of 1862 – just outside Murfreesboro along Stones River, the Confederate Army of Tennessee had launched a morning attack that nearly bent the Federal Army of the Cumberland back upon itself.
The two armies, nearly equal in size, had prepared identical attack plans, but the Confederates had struck first. Fighting throughout the day, amid the rocky outcroppings and cedar groves, proved desperate. Federals managed to hold on until dark, but as the last hours of the old year slipped away, the Army of the Cumberland faced possible annihilation.
The armies rang in the New Year to the sounds of suffering on the battlefield, although the armies themselves remained largely still.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles to the east, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He needed battlefield victories to bolster its authority, but thus far, those victories had eluded him. The stakes for the Army of the Cumberland, in the wake of other Federal failures were enormous.
But the fighting along Stones River was not over. On January 2, Confederates launched another massive assault.
In Force of a Cyclone: The Battle of Stones River, December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863, authors Caroline Davis and Bert Dunkerly explore a significant turning point of the Civil War – a battle that had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Lincoln himself often looked back on that fragile New Year’s Day and all that was at stake. “I can never forget whilst I remember anything,” he told Federal commander Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, “that about the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard-earned victory, which, had there been a defeat instead the nation could scarcely have lived over.”