The Second Day
December 31, 1862 - 6:00AM
As dawn breaks McCook's wing holds the union right
with Johnson screening the right flank while Sheridan probes toward the Franklin Road bridge.
Davis is in reserve on the Franklin Road. With 13,000 men this is currently the strongest
wing of the army. Initial scouting reports indicate the rebs have retreated across the river.
In the center Thomas' two divisions finish their breakfasts holding their position of last
evening while awaiting word of the rebels from their scouts. Short a brigade from Negley's
division and Fry's division having not yet arrived Thomas has about 9,000 men on the line.
On the left Van Cleve has succeeded the captured Crittenden. With Wood's division virtually
destroyed and his own division down to about 1000 effectives he has only some 6000 men
holding the left flank including Kennet's two small cavalry brigades. The pioneers continue
to picket the upper fords on the far left of the union line watching the rebel cavalry posted
Rosecrans orders McCook to attack the Franklin Road bridge with Davis and Sheridan moving Johnson into army reserve. Meanwhile Thomas is to attack toward the turnpike bridges with Negley and Rousseau while Van Cleve remains on the defensive.
Gen Wharton's Cavalry pickets the rebel left flank and
prepares to scout the yankee flank in preparation for the arrival of Gen Wheeler with the
remainder of the cavalry. At the Franklin Road Bridge Gen McCown's small 3 brigade division
has retreated across the Stone's River. With Maney and Stewart from Cheatham's Division and
Deas from Wither's attached he has about 6500 men and a dozen guns to protect the crossing.
In the Center under Polk and Bragg, Gen Stevenson's 7000 man division along with parts of
Wither's and Cheatham's divisions remain on the western bank of the river awaiting the expected
yankee attack. With some 14,000 men, nearly half the rebel strength, this is the strongest
part of the rebel line. On the right Hardee has command of the divisions of Breckenridge
and Cleburne. Although having suffered fairly heavy casualties from their attacks of the
first day where they nearly destroyed Wood's division capturing Gen Woods and Crittenden,
they still number close to 9,000 men and are in pretty good condition. Meanwhile on the far
right Gen Pegram's cavalry watches the yankee engineers at the upper crossings.
Bragg's plan calls for the rebs to hold in place for now with Wither's moving into reserve to allow him to regroup his division.
On McCook's wing Sheridan moves towards the Franklin Bridge with Davis preparing to follow while Johnson moves into a reserve position in the union center. The union right is loosely picketed by the escorts of Davis and Johnson. On Thomas's front Negley vigorously attacks Stevenson's left while Rousseau probes the rebel line in the woods on his front and begins an artillery duel with the rebel positions in the open to his left. Van Cleve remains on the defensive while Kennett receives orders to move his cavalry to the right to cover McCook's flank there.
Wharton continues to probe the union right while McCown's division digs in covering the Franklin Road bridge. In the center Wither's division is moved into reserve and put to work building a second defensive line. Meanwhile Stevenson's left is attacked in strength while his right is probed and Cheatham is bombarded by the union artillery. On the right Hardee orders Breckenridge to cover two lower ford and McFadden's Ford with his division while Cleburne concentrates his on the right watching the ford there and the bridge above and Pegram continues to watch the upper two fords.
The rebel cavalry begin to threaten the yankee right as Kennett moves to the right to oppose them. Meanwhile Sheridan places a heavy volume of fire across the river in preparation for Davis' attack on the bridge. In the center Johnson has commited his division in support of Negley and they begin to make progress on their right along the river. Meanwhile Beatty's brigade recoils from the rebel artillery fire and Rousseau commits only Shepherd on Johnson's right pulling Beatty back into the woods. Fry's large division reaches the field via the Nashville Turnpike and is ordered to move to the Wilkeson Turnpike-Grisham Lane intersection as the army reserve. The union left remains quiet as the rebels rest and the yankees are too weak to take the offensive there.
Wharton's cavalry finds little resistance in its probe of the union right. Meanwhile McCown is subjected to an artillery bombardment and expects the yankees to try to force the bridge before long. In the center Stevenson's left has collapsed and Withers is forced to send part of his division to fill the hole as the yankee attack begins to make progress. Stevenson's right has not yet engaged although the artillery bombardment of Cheatham has broken a couple of his tired regiments. On the right Breckenridge and Cleburne continue to rest and reorganize as Hardee plans an attack to relieve the pressure on the center.
On the union right Kennett arrives and finds himself facing a reinforced rebel cavalry force that begins to move forward. He anxiously looks to the west where Stanley's brigade has been expected for some time. As Sheridan continues to press forward Davis is ordered to move towards the high ground overlooking the center bridges. Rosecrans prepares to cross the river to personally oversee this part of the operation. In the center the union attack comes to a halt as several regiments rout and the resulting disorder causes the entire advance to falter. Meanwhile Fry has reached his reserve position along the Wilkinson Turnpike having spent enarly two hours getting there. On the left Van Cleve and Palmer continue to keep a wary eye on the rebels across the river. They're pretty sure something is up as but they don't know what, yet.
Having reached the field around 11 AM Wheeler joins Wharton on the union right as they plan an attack to take the Franklin Road bridge cutting off McCook and attacking the yankee artillery on their side of the river in the rear. McCown is being pressed back from the bridge and sends a warning to Polk and Bragg of union troops moving to the center bridges to cut them off. In the center Stevenson has been pushed back on the left and Wither's brigades are holding there to allow the guns to retreat. Cheatham has been ordered back to the second line and told to hold there while Stevenson is to cross the river and defend the bridges. On the rebel right Cleburne and Breckenridge make final preparations for their attack.
Even though Stanley has arrived Kennett is being pressed back by Wheeler's superior numbers. Rosecrans has ordered Harlan to his aid, but can he get there before the rebels reach the bridges. On McCooks front Sheridan's attack is bogging down as his men tire and the rebel gunfire has an affect. Davis's first attempt to take the high ground overlooking Lytle Creek fails as Carlin and Post are routed by the rebels that have just recrossed the river.In the center Negley and Johson renew their attack towards the bridges while Rousseau moves up to support on their left where the rebs have fallen back to their second line. Fry's remaining two brigade have been ordered into the center to assist in breaking the rebel line there. Meanwhile Van Cleve with Fyffe's remnants is in full retreat on the left forcing Palmer to send two brigades to try and shore things up there thus weakening his defence of the lower ford where he beat off the first reb attempt to cross there.
On the left Buford has reached the front line and Wheeler prepares to attack towards the bridges with him and Morgan while Wharton holds off the yankee cavalry. McCown's line begins to strengthen as his routed units rally and go back into the line.In the Center Stevenson's infantry has recrossed the river and thrown back the first yankee attempt to move to the bridges. His artillery is still on the other side of the river and is running for its life as the yankee attack has broken Anderson and Manigault and Donelson prepares to throw his small regiments in their path to buy time for the guns to clear the bridges. Meanwhile Cheatham orders Smith's Brigade to cover the Nashville Ford while everyone else heads for the bridges. On the rebel right Cleburne's attack and that of Preston at McFadden's Ford have met with success and the rebels advance on the Nashville Turnpike and the RR line. Breckenridge's first attack against Palmer at the lower ford is beaten back. Hanson and Adams pull back and prepare a second attempt as the yankees are forced to pull troops from the ford to halt the attack on their left.
Harlan advances with Stanley on his right and Minty on his left. The rebel cavalry here falls back but Zahm has been pushed into the woods and rebel cavalry have reached the bridge and attacked the union guns from the rear. An over extended Sheridan is pushed away from the bridge as Davis's division is broken by the rebels taking the high ground west of Lytle Creek. Negley reaches the river at the turnpike bridge while Willich manages to reach the RR bridge and supported by some of Kirk's regiments cuts off a few rebel regiments. Johnson attempts to rally the rest of his tired division while Rousseau moves up and prepares to assault the bridges. Fry's one brigade has reached the Nashville Ford and is exchanging fire with the rebels guarding it while his second brigade remains uncommitted. Unfortunately at this time Gen Thomas falls from his horse (his pc went down) and Gen Rousseau is in charge of the center of the field. The resulting delay in orders may prove fatal to the yankee cause. On the left Fyffe's remnants are about finished and Palmer's division is being quickly beaten down by the rebels. The second rebel attempt at crossing the lower ford succeeds and two relatively fresh brigades join the fight. Capt Morton sends one of his pioneer regiments to help thicken the union line while messengers are sent up the Nashville Turnpike to hurry along Col Starkeweather who was due to arrive an hour ago.
Wharton is in full retreat from the fury of the union advance but Wheeler's cavalry has attacked the yankee supporting artillery on the west side of the river capturing most of it along with taking prisoners from some routed union infantry. McCown's counterattack has broken the overextended yankee line and the rebels have taken the Franklin Road Bridge. Stevenson's attempt to clear the high ground west of Lytle creek in hopes of moving up artillery to shell the trapped yankees comes to an abrupt halt as his division breaks once again. In the center Chalmers and Walthall defend the bridges as the yankees reach the river. Most of Donelson's brigade has been cutoff from the bridges but his delaying action saved the rebel artillery. Smith covers the Nashville Ford and awaits reinforcement from the rest of Cheatham's brigades. On the right Breckenridge is advancing while Cleburne's men are tiring and are pulling up.
Stanley pulls up in his pursuit of Wharton. Harlan is captured in his failed attempt to retake the Franklin Bridge and his brigade pulls back for the night along with Zahm and Minty. McCook and Rosecrans try to rally their tired units in the bend of the river while a few regiments form a shaky line across the narrow approach. With some 3500 men trapped against the river the yankee attack on this flank has failed. In the center Negley and the artillery moved to provide fire support for McCook's trapped forces. Rousseau's attempt to force the bridge with Sheperd failed and he pulled back for the night. Kirk of Johnson's division managed to clear out the last of the rebs on the west side of the river while the rest of Johnson went into bivouac for the night. On the left Steedman held his ground at the Nashville ford on Fry's orders while Walker pushed back the rebels and gave Palmer some breathing space. Fyffe reinforced by one of Morton's regiments holds his ground and awaits the arrival of Starkweather who reached the field just before dark.
As darkness falls Wharton continues his retreat to the Salem Turnpike bridge. Buford has crossed at the Franklin Bridge and is moving to support Wharton. Wheeler has kept Morgan and his brigade in reserve behind McCown. McCown has thrown back the yankee attempt to retake the Franklin Bridge. The condition of the troops and the lateness of the day prevents him and Stevenson from finishing off the trapped yankees who retreat into the bend of the river. At the center bridges Chalmers and Walthall fight off the last union attempt to cross the river and settle down for the night. At the Nashville Ford Smith barely holds the ford as night falls and he and Manigault prepare to hold it thru the night. On the right the arrival of a fresh union brigade halts Breckenridge's attack and forces him to retreat to the RR line. While Cleburne has pulled up due to the condition of his troops and the sighting of a fresh yankee force on the Nashville Turnpike.
We have now reached the end of the second day and the
confederate forces currently have a major victory, having again trapped two union divisions on
their side of Stone's River, cutting them off from the fords and bridges. The union forces
have enjoyed some success in the center having reached the river although they were unable to
secure a crossing. Both their flanks are weak and only the weakened condition of the rebels
prevents their being attacked again. The casualties stand at 23,000 yanks and 86 guns to
20,000 rebels and 32 guns, both sides have now lost nearly 50% of their available forces. More
importantly the union army has had heavy losses in officers having lost over half of their
brigade commanders. With the strength levels so low I have called an end to the game and
declared the confederates the victors. In my opinion the logical thing for Rosecrans to do
would be to use his pioneers to build a pontoon bridge and get as many of McCook's men back
across the river and retire to Nashville to rebuild his army.
As shown by the constant fighting and the heavy casualties we still have not been able to reduce the players ability to control their forces enough to fight the battles historically. I hope to work up another such game for Spring 2005 and am considering some new options to address this problem..