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The First Stone

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Bragg Victorious at the Stones River

January 2, 1863

On January 2, 1863, Braxton Bragg decides to break the stalemate at the Battle of Murfreesboro and orders Leonidas Polk to attempt an attack on Union General Thomas' Division. They are repulsed with heavy losses. Just as defeat seems certain, General Patrick Cleburne demands that he attempt to flank the Union lines. Bragg reluctantly acquiesces. Confederate batteries open up and Cleburne's troops charge the Federal right. Soon Union General Rosecrans indignantly orders a withdrawal. The norhern troops trudge back to Nashville, bested by the Army of the Tennessee for the first time.


Bragg Defeats Rosecrans at Nashville

Nashville Rosecrans

Rosecrans forced to evacuate Nashville.

January 5, 1863

Rosecrans completes his consolidation of the Nashville area and prepares for battle. His troops, however, are spread thin. And the Cumberland River is at his back, so he'll have to succeed in the battle, or one of the largest Union armies in the West will be destroyed. Meanwhile, a telegraph reaches President Davis that the Army of the Tennessee has "won handily" at Murfreesboro, and that the enemy is in "shambles", despite that the casualties on both sides are roughly equal.

January 6, 1863

Bragg pounces on the Federal-held Nashville. Three simultaneous assaults are made on the city, and push the Union soldiers to the last line of entrenchments, but they manage to hold the city long enough for night to fall. Casualties on the northern side are incredible. Rosecrans fears the next day will bring defeat. General George H. Thomas comes up with a plan. A three-hundred man team attacks the Confederate right, drawing Bragg's forces away from the left. Cavalry dispatch the small Confederate pickets guarding the left, and the Army of the Ohio evacuates Nashville.


Stalemate at Cedar Grove

January 8,1863

General Rosecrans' scouts tell him of a place called Cedar Grove, and that it is easily defensible. Rosecrans orders his army to there, and hopes that the overcast sky will rain, hampering the puruit of the Confederates. Rosecrans' hopes soon prove to not be in vain, and a brutal storm blows up, giving the Union soldiers desperately needed time.

January 10, 1863

Braxton Bragg completes the deployment of his forces around the city. He notices that Rosecrans is defending three key objectives: the hill known as Cedar Grove, the mountain pass between Cedar Grove and a small hill, and the small hill known as Stoke Hill. At noon, Bragg attacks all three. Each time, however, he is repulsed. Bragg looks to General Cheatham to deliver Cedar Grove. Cheatham attacks without hesitation and breaks through.The entire face of battle has shifted, and soon the entire ridge is in Confederate hands. Rosecrans, in desperation, turns to General George Thomas. Thomas counterattacks, and they capture the town of Allegre, taking many Confederate prisoner in the initial panic and surprise. Although Bragg is still in control of the city of Liberty, his position is an almost untenable one, but he knows Rosecrans is in a similar position as well. After staring at each other for the rest of the day, Rosecrans withdraws north.

CEDARGROVEPOSITIONS

Original Positions at Cedar Grove (Union Troops in blue, Confederate in red).

CEDARGROVE2

Bragg's attacks at Cedar Grove.

Thomas' Assault

General Thomas' counterattack.


Thomas in Command

January 12, 1863

Abraham Lincoln, angered by the turn of fortunes in the west, relieves Rosecrans of duty and places General George H. Thomas in command of the Army of the Ohio. To Braxton Bragg, the turn of events is unsettling.

January 13-16, 1863

General Thomas continues his retreat up the Cumberland River, looking for an ideal place for a battle, but can't seem to find one. Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens sends an envoy to Great Britain to negotiate terms of peace in light of recent Confederate victories.

January 17, 1863

Union troops camp at Clarksville, Tennessee. Thomas, seeing low morale in the troops, decides that he will have to fight a successful battle soon, before his entire army deserts him. He gives a rousing encouragement speech to his troops, but knows that time is running out.

January 18, 1863

Clarksville Battle

Thomas' attack at Clarksville.

Suddenly, Thomas turns on the pursuing Confederates just outside of Clarksville. The battle ends with no clear winner, but has severely weakened the Army of Tennessee. Bragg orders a retreat to Clarksville, so defenses can be prepared. Thomas proceeds to besiege it.

January 20-February 17, 1863

The siege of Clarksville has become a deadly waiting game. Bragg attempts useless frontal assaults against formidable Union lines. Jefferson Davis sends an elite cavalry corps under General Nathan Bedford Forrest and an infantry corps under General Richard Ewell, all the way from Virginia, to relieve them. A ferocious battle occurs, in which Ewell is mortally wounded, and the Union siege lines are outflanked. Thomas lifts his siege, retreating into Kentucky. Richmond receives notice of the victory, as well as Alexander Stephens in London.

March 27, 1863

Parliament passes Resolution 19-B, which grants recognition of the Confederacy, ending the American Civil War. Braxton Bragg is hailed as "Lee of the West", Patrick Cleburne has a monument dedicated to him in Richmond, and Benjamin Cheatham is forever remembered for his heroic charge at Cedar Grove. The war is finally over.


Battle Analysis

Battle of Stones River-Confederate Victory

Battle of Nashville-Confederate Victory

Battle of Cedar Grove-Inconclusive

Battle of Clarksville-Inconclusive

Siege of Clarksville-Decisive Confederate Victory

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