Battle of Stones River
Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecranss Army of the Cumberland marched from Nashville, Tennessee, on December 26,1862, on December 31, each army commander planned to attack his opponents right flank, but Bragg struck first. A massive assault by the corps of Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee, followed by that of Leonidas Polk, repeated Confederate attacks were repulsed from this concentrated line, most notably in the cedar Round Forest salient against the brigade of Col. William B. Bragg attempted to continue the assault with the corps of Maj. Gen. John C, but the troops were slow in arriving and their multiple piecemeal attacks failed. Fighting resumed on January 2,1863, when Bragg ordered Breckinridge to assault the well-fortified Union position on a hill to the east of the Stones River, faced with overwhelming artillery, the Confederates were repulsed with heavy losses. Falsely believing that Rosecrans was receiving reinforcements, Bragg chose to withdraw his army on January 3 to Tullahoma and this caused Bragg to lose the confidence of the Army of Tennessee.
Although Braggs newly combined force was up to 38,000 veteran troops, Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, the Union commander at Perryville, was equally passive and refused to attack Bragg. His army, joined with Smiths Army of Kentucky and together renamed the Army of Tennessee as of November 20, the loss of Stevensons 7,500 men would be sorely felt in the coming battle. Bragg reorganized his army, and Kirby Smith left for East Tennessee, Bragg commanded two corps, under Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee and Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk (divisions of Maj. Gens. Benjamin F. Cheatham and Jones M. Withers, and a command under Brig. Gen. Joseph Wheeler. Davis refused to relieve either Bragg or the rebellious generals, on the Union side, President Abraham Lincoln had become frustrated with Buells passivity and replaced him with Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, victor of the recent battles of Iuka and Corinth. Rosecrans moved his XIV Corps to Nashville and was warned by Washington that he too would be replaced if he did not move aggressively against Bragg, Rosecrans took ample time to reorganize and train his forces and resupply his army.
He did not begin his march in pursuit of Bragg until December 26, the relatively small battle that followed Morgans surprise attack was an embarrassing Union defeat, resulting in many captured Union supplies and soldiers. The Union engaged in a cavalry raid. On December 26, the day Rosecrans marched from Nashville, a force under Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Carter raided the upper Tennessee Valley from Manchester. Until January 5, Carters men destroyed railroad bridges and fought a few skirmishes, but none of the cavalry raids, Confederate or Union, had any significant effect on the Stones River Campaign. The left wing of 14,500 men under Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden took a route that was parallel to the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, passing through La Vergne and south of Smyrna. The right wing of 16,000 men under Maj. Gen. Alexander M. McCook marched south along the Nolensville Turnpike to Nolensville, south to Triune, the center wing of 13,500 men under Maj. Gen