Monday, December 31, 2012

December 30, 1862

December 30, 1862:  Stones River Campaign, Central Tennessee -- Gen. Braxton Bragg, in command of the 35,000 men of the Army of Tennessee, CSA, begins to consolidate his forces, which have  been spread out over the countryside around Murfreesboro.  He positions his army on the west side of Stones River, even though he does have the river at his back and the terrain is less favorable for defense.  He ordered Gen. Joseph Wheeler to take his cavalry on a raid: Wheeler circumnavigates the entire Army of the Cumberland, attacks Union columns on the way, creating havoc and confusion---in addition, he destroys over 400 wagons, captures over 600 Yankees (and nearly as many horses), in addition to several thousand rifles.  The Confederate plan:  Bragg plans on Breckinridge holding firm, and then for Hardee’s and Polk’s corps to effect a massive right wheel from the left to hit the right flank and roll up the Federal line.

Rosecrans, in the meantime, has reduced his 80,000 army to 41,000, since he has been forced to leave divisions along the way to guard his supply and communications routes.  He places his troops by this evening close to the Confederate lines, putting McCook’s corps on the right, Thomas’s corps in the center, and Crittenden on the left.  Bragg has placed Hardee’s Corps on the left, Polk in the center, and Breckinridge’s division is posted on the right, across the Stones River, to watch the Union left, in case Rosecrans tries to cross the river for a flank attack.  The Union plan: Rosecrans has instructed Crittenden to cross the river in the morning and sweep to the right, pushing Breckinridge out of the way to get into the Confederate rear. 

Map showing U.S. and C.S. positions as of dusk, December 30

---Gen. Sherman decides to call off the campaign to take the Chickasaw Bluffs.  He asks Pemberton for a truce to recover the wounded and dead.

---Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and his Rebel cavalry are raiding far behind enemy lines, up through Fairfax County to the very outskirts of Washington, D.C. 

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry, in the Army of the Tennessee, records this incident in his journal:

Tuesday, 30th—We struck our tents and started at 10 a. m. We reached Coldwater by noon and stopped for our mess. Our colonel must have been cold and in a hurry, for he gave the order, “Front right dress! Stack arms! Break ranks! Get rails and build fires! G— D—!” It amused the boys and they were not long in building fires and preparing hot coffee. At 1 o’clock we left for Moscow, Tennessee, along the railroad, and after a day’s march of twenty miles went into bivouac for the night within one mile of town.

---The U.S.S. Monitor, steaming south to take up blockade duty, founders and sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, taking the lives of four officers and twelve men in the process.

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