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Thank you to everyone who attended the December meeting to hear Jim Ogden speak on “The Great Locomotive Chase”. There were 67 diners, seven who were non-members. Also attending were an additional 24 members and three non-members to hear the presentation. Total attendance for the lecture was 92. Thank you once again for your outstanding support and interest in the Round Table.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. January 9th to hear Jim Lewis speak on “Hell’s Half Acre”. I’m looking forward to the first meeting of 2017.

The Battle of Stones River / Murfreesboro – January 2nd, 1863

At 4:00 p.m. on January 2nd Bragg made his last major offensive against Rosecrans. The Union position under the leadership of Generals Crittenden and Beatty will soon be attacked by Confederate General Breckinridge. General Hanson will give the order to advance to Colonel Joseph Lewis of the 6th Kentucky (C.S.). “Colonel,” Hanson yells to Lewis, “the order is to load, fix bayonets and march through the brushwood. Then charge at double quick to within a hundred yards of the enemy, deliver fire, and go at them with the bayonet.” Hanson had privately told Breckinridge that he believed he would not survive the assault. A single cannon shot from Carnes’s battery was the signal for the Confederate attack.

So what did the advance look like from the opposing side as Larry Daniels writes? An Ohio soldier in the distance reports that “they came not as a mob, but in good order. They advanced so coolly and gracefully as if on parade… Thorough discipline was indicated in every step.” A half mile away, one of Beatty’s soldiers could “plainly and distinctly hear them giving commands – Forward!, Guide Center!, March!”. A message delivered to Rosecrans and Beatty stating that Rebels are massing an attack. It was reported that they had counted sixteen enemy flags. A Union soldier yelled “boys, they are coming! The woods are full of them.”

What did the advancing Confederate soldiers face as they advanced toward enemy lines? They were under punishing artillery fire. Breckinridge stated “many officers and men fell before we closed with their infantry.” In the midst of the shelling, Hanson’s brigade came to a halt. Hanson was hit in the leg from a shell fragment which severed the femoral artery. He was transport to Murfreesboro where his wife and Mrs. Breckinridge attended him. He died two days later.

Breckinridge forces under the command of Preston were able to sweep Union General Beatty’s brigades from the field in full retreat. Crittenden had amassed a formidable array of artillery. He turns to Captain John Mendenhall, his artillery chief, with Beatty’s division collapsing he orders him to cover my men with your cannon. Mendenhall unleashed his artillery that sweeps the Confederates from the field. “As the mass of men swarmed down the slope they were mowed down by the score”, observed a Union officer. In the final analysis the North’s superior resources save the day in stopping a Confederate victory at Stones River. Breckinridge’s attack was over in one hour by 5:00 p.m. The two armies had fought to a draw by the end of the third day.

In February, Earl Hess, LMU Professor, Author, Historian, will do a presentation entitled
“Civil War Tactics” at the Round Table’s monthly meeting February 14, 2017. I’m looking forward to Professor Hess’s thoughts and insights on this topic.

John Stegner, President

Sources

The Battle of Stones River – Larry J. Daniel
Battle of Stones River Illustration – Kutz and Allison