Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stones River

It is has been a while since my last post and I have had alot going on. We have been enjoying the fall weather here in Middle Tennessee but longing for the even nicer fall weather of my birthplace in Western North Carolina. We recently made a trip to Stones River in Murfreesboro, TN. This site holds a special place in my memory. It has been suggested that my Great,Great,Great Uncle George Washington Young of the 58th NC Infantry may have died from illness or sickness brought on from the after effects of this battle. It was after this battle that the bulk of the Confederate Army retreated 30 miles to the southwest to Shelbyville,TN. Mainly to regain their strength and composure and to prepare for there next battle engagement.
George W Young died in this small town was buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery-Mt. Willow.

Unmarked Confederate Graves at Mt.Willow Cemetery-Shelbyville,TN

Both of his brothers Joseph Tarpley Young and Samuel Fleming Young would survive the war and returned home to Yancey County,NC

The battle here was brutal. Most notably was the Slaughter Pen. It was here where the rocky ground and heavy forest resulted in massive casualties and injuries to both sides . The Union Army under the command of Gen Phil Sheridan and Maj. Gen. George Thomas took a serious beating from Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate Troops. The Slaughter Pen would be the place of much bloodshed for the Union Army. Sheridan lost 14 Cannons during the battle and the many soldiers fought with their bare hand and knives when the ammunition was gone.
Stone's River-The Slaughter Pen(above)
All of this bloodshed was to allow Union Gen. Rosecrans troops to build a wall of protection between confederate troops and the Nashville Pike (The escape route to the north).
Eventually Union Troops were forced to retreat to higher ground.Once Rosecrans troops
had made there stronghold, Sheridan and Thomas' Troops made there retreat with the Confederate Army on there tail. Once the retreating union troops made it to the safety of Rosecrans artillery, they dug and began to fight back. The Confederate army began creeping slowly into an open field out from the protection of a small grove of trees and toward the Feds but they were decimated by the union firepower. The Confederate charge was hit with not only cannon balls but a nasty little thing called cannister shot which was particular deadly and could kill 20 or more men at a time with a single shot.Between the Union Artillery of Rosecrans the and the Confederates lay the Stones River, which had to be waded if the Confederates were to break the Union lines.

By the time what was left of the Confederate Army reached the River, daylight was fading and it began to rain.The Confederate Command made a decision to retreat to the safety of Shelbyville 30 miles to the south and the Union army made its escape up the Nashville Pike to Nashville and Fort Negley.

Notable Facts about Stones River:
Casualties 13,249 on the Union side and 10,266 for the Confederates-The Highest Percentage of Casualties in the Western Theater of the Civil War.
Dates-December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863

The battle was fought during the holiday season and all the troops on both sides missed there families and homes. Military bands on sides played anthems and song to keep up moral. The battle lines were so close together that the sounds of the opposing army's music carried through the forest. As the night wore on, the troops battled each other in another way.... as one side played a rousing rendition of "Dixie", the other band would try to drown it out with the equally loud strains of "Yankee Doodle". Finally, one of the bands struck up the chords to the song "Home, Sweet, Home" and the rival band joined in. Soldiers on both sides began to sing the familiar words and for one brief moment, the war was forgotten and the soldiers shared their mutual longings for the comforts of home.

Federal Cemetery at Stones River-Murfressboro,TN