Monday, December 31, 2012

Stones River 150

One hundred and fifty years ago, the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, within easy reach of Nashville) went on for days, straddling the end of 1862 and the beginning of 1863. It was an extraordinarily costly fight for both sides, with close to 25,000 casualties out of about 76,000 men engaged -- fellow Americans fighting each other, let's not ever forget even as we continue to battle politically and culturally. Consider the alternatives.

I picked up the pertinent new book by Larry J. Daniel (Battle of Stones River: The Forgotten Conflict between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland, LSU Press, 2012) and am skimming through it. I've also visited the battlefield twice so far. Definitely worth checking out, both.

Samuel France (1839-1900), my great-great-grandfather, fought there on the Union side with Company  E, 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was "wounded -- slightly" three times there during the period December 30, 1862 to January 4, 1863.

Thanks to online records hosted by the US National Park Service, I was able to glean some new details about the 31st Indiana's comings and goings at Stones River. This is from an "Unknown Diary  from Cruft's Brigade," with a couple of commas added for easier reading:

Tues[day] 30 [December 1863] We arose at day . . . We moved out on the front lines, formed our lines, sent out 2 co[mpanies], E & C, for s[k]irmishers & they kept firing occasionally all day . . . We . . . changed our position & front a little further to the East just before dark and drove their [Confederate] s[k]irmishers far . . . There were 2 men of Co[mpany] E slightly wounded. There was some rain fell during the day & turned cold at night.

Fighting intensified over the next few days.  "Unknown" reports 88 casualties in the 31st Indiana by January 4, 1863, out of probably a few hundred soldiers.

Source: National Park Service, Stones River National Battlefield.

Above: Map of some of the fighting on December 31,1862. The 31st Indiana was part of Palmer's Division.  (Source: Wiki Commons).

An additional detail from the same "Unknown," in covering the events of December 31, 1862 -- 150 years ago today exactly -- keeps it real:

"Our Assistant Adjutant General Fairbanks was so drunk that he fell from his saddle in the midst of the battle and was carried from the field . . ."

Today's Rune: Signals.


the walking man said...

Davis and Sheridan should have swung out, flanked the line and reversed the fire sack.

Just think 1 more mini ball and there might be no Erik. Bummer.

Charles Gramlich said...

There were times in this recent election season when I wondered if people were going to come to blows. At least in general the split is spread more evenly across the states than it was in the 1860s.