The Battle

December 30, 1862 - 6:00AM

     The union army approaches Murfreesboro from the north and west. Crittenden's corps is camped along Stone's River having come down the Nashville Turnpike and is ordered to cross Stone's River and move against Wayne's Hill. Meanwhile McCook's corps is just arriving on the Wilkinson's Turnpike and has been ordered to find the rebel left flank and turn it with his three divisions, moving down the Franklin Road or Salem Turnpike to cross Stone's River and attack Murfreesboro. Thomas's corps is still enroute with only two brigades on the field and along with Minty's cavalry constitutes Rosecrans reserve.

December 30, 1862 - 6:00 AM

     The rebels have made their own plans. Gen Bragg has ordered Hardee to take the divisions of Breckenridge and Cleburne and get across the river on the yankee left flank at the upper fords. Cheatham will be held in support behind the breastworks manned by two of Wither's brigades at the center of the rebel line and brought up once Hardee gets across the river. Meanwhile Gen Polk has ordered McCown's division and Wither's remaining brigades to move forward and get the yankees to believe they are attacking the union right to draw forces from the point of Hardee's attack. Gen Stevenson's division is expected to arrive at Murfreesboro in the early afternoon and will be Gen Bragg's reserve.

 

8:00AM

    Gen Crittenden has crossed Wood's division to the east bank of Stone's River at McFadden's Ford with Van Cleve's division moving behind him in support leaving Palmer to hold the center of the union line. Meanwhile Gen McCook's lead division has run into troops from McCown's and Wither's division posted on the high ground covering Grisham Lane while his third division is being delayed in its march to the Franklin Road by Wharton's cavalry.

December 30, 1862 - 8:00 AM

     On the rebel side Gen McCown's boys hand the yanks a warm welcome on Grisham Lane. On the rebel right Breckenridge's lead brigade is moving to the Major Ross Farm to secure the road to the upper ford for Cleburne while the remainder of Breckenridge's division is moving up Sinking Creek road and can hear the sound of firing off to its right where Pegram's cavalry is skirmishing with one of Wood's brigades.

 

10:00AM

    Gen Davis's divison of McCook's corps has been roughly handled by McCown and Deas but Sheridan's division has pushed Wharton's cavalry screen back and threatens to flank McCown's infantry while Gen Johnson's fresh division moves up in support of both. Colonel Kennett arrives with his and Zahm's cavalry brigade and is placed in the center as a reserve. Rousseau's division of Gen Thomas's Corps begins to arrive and is ordered first to Ashbury Church then to the Wilkinson Turnpike with the remainder of Thomas's corps. On the union left Gen Wood sends his boys against Wayne's Hill trying to approach it from the rear only to discover a rebel brigade in the woods to his left and the sound of firing to his rear where two more rebel brigades make their presence known. Meanwhile a third rebel brigade threatens the cavalry escort keeping an eye on McFadden's ford.

December 30, 1862 - 10:00 AM

     On the rebel left McCown realizes the danger to his flank and begins to pull back. Polk is collecting Cheatham's division in the center in preparation to support Hardee's crossing on the union left. On the rebel right Breckenridge's division is fully engaged with two brigades holding Wayne's Hill and the remaining three starting to attack the exposed flank of Wood's division. Hardee orders the two hindmost brigades of Cleburne's division to move to the support of Breckenridge while the two leading brigades are ordered to cut the yankees off from McFadden's Ford.

 

Noon

    McCook continues to press McCown slowly back. Rosecrans orders Thomas to move his corps into position on McCook's left and accompanies him on the march in preparation for an attack on the rebel center. Meanwhile Crittenden has lost control of the ford above McFadden's and the one across from Wayne's Hill leaving him only McFadden's ford which the rebels are pressing hard to take. His six brigades are facing nine rebel brigades and he realizes he is in trouble. He sends a message to Rosecrans but the first courier is killed and the second arrives to find Rosecrans has marched off to the left with Thomas. Meanwhile the dormant rebel center has come to life as three rebel brigades begin advancing against Palmer's division.

December 30, 1862 - 12 Noon

    McCown continues to fall back and Polk has ordered two of Cheatham's brigades to his support and arrives to supervise the defence of the rebel left. Meanwhile Gen Cheatham has been ordered to open an attack on the center to keep reinforcements from being sent to Crittenden. With only 3 brigades to attack a dug in union division he sees little chance the attack will succeed but orders the brigades to advance. On the right Hanson has managed to cut the yankees off from the ford in front of Wayne's Hill and Cleburne has led his two left most brigades in a charge that has thrown the yankees back threatening to push them into the river. Breckenridge's division is keeping the pressure on the middle of the line while Cleburne's other two brigades have taken the upper ford and only the arrival of Minty's cavalry prevented them from rushing McFadden's Ford.

 

2:00 PM

    McCook pulls up to regroup his corps. Several brigades are disordered and fatigued and he has received reports of rebel infantry moving up on his right. Thomas's corps has arrived on his left and begins moving up to attack. Palmer has beaten off the attack on his front with the help of Zahm's cavalry but at the cost of not being able to assist Crittenden, who now finds himself cut off from McFadden's Ford and unable to get back across the river. He and Wood are trapped with the remains of Wood's division and some of Van Cleve's. Although Kennett threw his and Minty's cavalry into the battle to hold the ford they were no match for Cleburne's veteran infantry.

December 30, 1862 - 2 PM

     McCown continues to pull back his weary regiments as Stewart and Maney arrive to shore up his left where Sheridan presents the most danger. Barton has come up as a reserve and there are ominous signs of a yankee buildup to the right of McCown where Wither's brigades are little more than a picket line. In the center Cheatham has manned his defences and his brigades lick their wounds after their ill fated attack. On the right Breckenridge and Cleburne attempt to finish off the yankees they have trapped against the river before they can retake the ford and escape.

 

4:00 PM

    Genl's Crittenden, Wood and Hascall have been captured along with several colonels in the debacle on the east bank of Stone's River. Gen Van Cleve moves up to command the remnants of Crittenden's corps and attempts to shore up the defence of the fords. Gen Thomas has opened his attack in an attempt to reach the river and duplicate the rebel victory on the other flank. Gen McCook's command is once again reorganized and prepares to advance in support of Thomas.

December 30, 1862 - 2 PM

    Genl's Breckenridge and Cleburne allow their men to rest from their earlier exertions, only desultry skirmishing and artillery fire taking place on their flank as both sides take time to catch their breath. In the center Gen Cheatham continues to watch Palmer while Gen Polk tries to gather up sufficient fresh troops to hit Thomas's flank through the woods. On the left McCown continues retreating while Wither's with the help of Barton's brigade tries to hold off Thomas until nightfall.

 

5:40 PM

    General McCook's corps is pressing the rebels back towards Stone's River with some help from Gen Negley's division. On Negley's left, Rosseau's division has been hit in the flank and thrown back. On the union left General Van Cleve has pulled Crittenden's corps back together and prepares to defend the crossings tomorrow.

December 30, 1862 - 5:40 PM

    While Wharton's cavalry watches the far left flank Gen McCown is being pressed back to the river. Stevenson and Wither's manage to repulse Rosseau and hit him in the flank forcing his division to pull back. Cheatham, Breckenridge and Cleburne rest their weary troops in preparation for tomorrow's action.

 

     We have now reached the end of the first day and the confederate forces currently have a major victory, having trapped two union divisions on their side of Stone's River, cutting them off from the fords and nearly destroying them while the yankees were able to push the rebels back on the other flank but were unable to pin them against the river. The casualties stand at 13,000 yanks and 32 guns to 10,000 rebels and 16 guns, both sides losing about 25% of their available forces.