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Battle of Stones River

The Forgotten Conflict between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland

336 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 15 halftones, 13 maps

ebook available

Civil War | Southern History

  Hardcover / 9780807145166 / September 2012

Three days of savage and bloody fighting between Confederate and Union troops at Stones River in Middle Tennessee ended with nearly 25,000 casualties but no clear victor. The staggering number of killed or wounded equaled the losses suffered in the well-known Battle of Shiloh. Using previously neglected sources, Larry J. Daniel rescues this important campaign from obscurity.

The Battle of Stones River, fought between December 31, 1862, and January 2, 1863, was a tactical draw but proved to be a strategic northern victory. According to Daniel, Union defeats in late 1862—both at Chickasaw Bayou in Mississippi and at Fredericksburg, Virginia—transformed the clash in Tennessee into a much-needed morale booster for the North. 
Daniel’s study of the battle’s two antagonists, William S. Rosecrans for the Union Army of the Cumberland and Braxton Bragg for the Confederate Army of Tennessee, presents contrasts in leadership and a series of missteps. Union soldiers liked Rosecrans’s personable nature, whereas Bragg acquired a reputation as antisocial and suspicious. Rosecrans had won his previous battle at Corinth, and Bragg had failed at the recent Kentucky Campaign. But despite Rosecrans’s apparent advantage, both commanders made serious mistakes. With only a few hundred yards separating the lines, Rosecrans allowed Confederates to surprise and route his right wing. Eventually, Union pressure forced Bragg to launch a division-size attack, a disastrous move. Neither side could claim victory on the battlefield. 
In the aftermath of the bloody conflict, Union commanders and northern newspapers portrayed the stalemate as a victory, bolstering confidence in the Lincoln administration and dimming the prospects for the “peace wing” of the northern Democratic Party. In the South, the deadlock led to continued bickering in the Confederate western high command and scorn for Braxton Bragg.

Larry J. Daniel is the author or coauthor of six books on the American Civil War, including Days of Glory: The Army of the Cumberland, 1861–1865.

Praise for The Battle of Stones River

“If you want to read a book that is an illuminating portrait of the fighting at Stones River, this is the book for you. Prolific Civil War military historians, Larry J. Daniel has done it again.”—John F. Marszalek, author of Sherman’s March to the Sea

The Battle of Stones River was considerably more important than generally perceived. Larry J. Daniel uses his superb analytical skills to illuminate combatants, tactics, strategy, and leadership. Beyond writing solid military history, Daniel makes convincing arguments that the outcome of the battle had a major impact on the course of the war, both in Richmond and Washington, and in the court of public opinion.”—Michael B. Ballard, author of Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi

“This is Larry J. Daniel at his best—clear, comprehensive, and readable. He demonstrates not only that this great battle is still a fascinating story but also that there is more to learn of it than we have previously read.”—Steven E. Woodworth, author of This Great Struggle: America’s Civil War

"...a powerful argument could be made that Battle of Stones River should now assume the role of standard work on the subject, the single work best serving the needs of the widest number of readers."—Civil War Books and Authors

Review of The Battle of Stones River

"[The Battle of Stones River]  is well paced, with a solid discussion of the battle itself and its tactical and command challenges, coupled with well considered interpretation of the strategic setting before and after the battle and its impact on the press, populace, and politicians; the respective soldiers in the opposing armies; the civilians in the region and state; and the implications on the course of the war." - Scott Mingus

Links for The Battle of Stone's River

The Battle of Stones River finally gets its due from historian Larry J. Daniel (Chapter 16)

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