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The Battle of Stone River   By:

The Battle of Stone River by Henry Myron Kendall

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Military Order of the Loyal Legion OF THE United States.



The Battle of Stone River.



The Battle of Stone River.

After the battle of Perryville, October 8, 1862, a rather leisurely pursuit of Bragg's retreating forces was made on the roads to Cumberland Gap, but no engagement was brought on. It soon appeared that Bragg did not intend to again give battle in Kentucky, but would withdraw into Tennessee and join the force under Breckenridge which had been left to watch Nashville during the invasion of Kentucky. Buell concluded that Bragg would concentrate his entire force near Nashville and endeavor to capture that place and somewhere in its vicinity fight a decisive battle which would determine the fate of West Tennessee and Kentucky. Buell therefore discontinued his pursuit and turned his forces toward Nashville, placing them mainly at Bowling Green, Glasgow, and other points on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

A great deal of pressure had been brought to bear upon the Administration to make a campaign in East Tennessee, a mountainous region whose people were mostly loyal. General Halleck in Washington planned a campaign in that region and called upon Buell to carry it out. But Buell declined. His reasons were that such a campaign would place him at a long distance from Louisville, his base, dependent upon wagon transportation alone over almost impassable roads, in a country devoid of supplies and especially suitable to defensive operations. Again, he would be forced to make great detachments to guard Nashville and his lines of communications, since these would be especially open to the attack of the enemy, who was well known to be superior in cavalry.

Buell considered Nashville the vital point of the theatre, and was satisfied that it would be the main point of Bragg's attack. He therefore ignored Halleck's elaborate plan and set about repairing the railway to Nashville and moving his troops in that direction. His previous slowness and indecision had brought him greatly into disfavor, and on the 30th of October he was relieved by Major General William S. Rosecrans. The district was called thereafter the Department of the Cumberland and the army in the field was designated as the Fourteenth Army Corps. Halleck's plans were urged upon Rosecrans, but he was of the same opinion as Buell, and it had by that time become plain that Bragg was doing just what Buell thought he would do. Rosecrans concluded to go on in the same direction as had Buell, and the events showed clearly that Halleck's bureau made plans, based upon theory alone and without an intimate knowledge of the real conditions, were the veriest nonsense, and that Buell and Rosecrans were quite right in ignoring them.

Rosecrans organized the army into right wing, center, and left wing. The right wing, under McCook, consisted of Johnson's, Davis's, and Sheridan's divisions. Thomas commanded the center, which consisted of five divisions under Rousseau, Negley, Fry, Mitchell, and Reynolds. The left wing was commanded by Crittenden, and comprised Wood's, Palmer's, and Van Cleve's divisions. The total available strength of the army formed not more than 60 per cent. of its paper strength, owing to absenteeism. Every endeavor was made to remedy this state of affairs, a condition not peculiar to this army alone, but affecting all the armies almost equally, and constituting a serious evil, for the correction of which severe measures were an absolute necessity.

The army was very deficient in cavalry, and a large portion of its meagre force was very poorly armed. In this condition the army was at a great disadvantage opposed to Bragg, whose cavalry, under Forrest, Morgan, and Wheeler was much greater in numbers and better mounted and equipped... Continue reading book >>

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