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Though the Confederates took a few minutes to rest and regroup as they reached the cotton field that lay between them and the last Union line along the Nashville Pike they soon resumed the offensive.  It was a slaughter.  The intensity of the fire raining down on them from the Pike drove back the first charge in 10 minutes...
The battle was now nearly six hours old as the severely bloodied Confederate army emerged from the woodline on the edge of the cotton fields lining the Nashville Pike.  The Confederates had suffered horrendous casualties up to this point and the sight that greeted them on the other side of the field must have been overwhelming...a fresh blue line, 30,000 strong, backed by no less than 38 cannon which opened up on them as soon as they emerged from the trees.  The fight was far from over...
By early afternoon the Union position along the Nashville Pike was solid but by no means unbreakable.  The enormous loss of men suffered during the morning hours meant that Rosecrans had to continually pull up reserve troops to fill his thinning ranks.  Such was his desperation that he even called on units not accustomed to front line duty.  The so-called 'Pioneer Brigade" was one such unit.  Made up primarily of Mid-westerners, these men were normally called upon for important engineering projects such as bridge building and road improvements.  Virtually untested in battle, Rosecrans was taking a gamble on these men being able to stand up to the Confederate onslaught.  But stand up they did.  When other veteran units were falling back, the Pioneer Brigade held firm.  In all, the regimental history records that they withstood five Confederate assaults.  Despite taking heavy casualties, the Brigade was instrumental in holding the line and denying a Confederate victory at Stones River...
A freezing wind blew across the war-torn fields of Murphreesboro on New Years Day of 1863.  The two armies had seemingly pounded each other into a daze.  In fact, it was only Confederate General Bragg who lacked initiative this day.  General Rosecrans had decided before the dawn that his army would not consider retreat, ordering his generals to "fight or die".  Bragg, on the other hand, did little to improve his army's position as he was completely convinced Rosecrans would yet retire from the field.  Thus given the gift of time, the Union soldiers spent the day resupplying and digging fortifications while their Confederate counterparts sat shivering in their lines knowing that every free minute given the Yankee's, the more difficult and bloody their job would be should the fight resume...
General Bragg took most of the morning to formulate his plan of attack.  Because Breckenridge's troops were in the best condition for an assault he determined to use them against the Federal left.  The grand charge would proceed from the east bank of Stone's River crossing it here, at McFadden's Ford, and continuing up the hill into the the Union line at McFadden's Farm.  General Breckenridge immediately realized the difficulties his troops would face in carrying out their assault and was quickly convinced that it would result in a bloody failure.  Soon after receiving his orders (under protest) from Bragg, Breckenridge confided in a subordinate that "this attack is made against my judgement...If it should result in disaster, and I be among the slain...tell people that I believed this attack to be very unwise, and tried to prevent it..."
Looking out from atop the redoubt over what once was the bustling interior of Fortress Rosecrans.  The 200 protected acres within the fort contained the main line of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, enough food and ammunition to supply the Army of the Cumberland for 90 days, as well as the soldiers assigned here which numbered around 50,000...
By early afternoon the Union position along the Nashville Pike was solid but by no means unbreakable.  The enormous loss of men suffered during the morning hours meant that Rosecrans had to continually pull up reserve troops to fill his thinning ranks.  Such was his desperation that he even called on units not accustomed to front line duty.  The so-called 'Pioneer Brigade" was one such unit.  Made up primarily of Mid-westerners, these men were normally called upon for important engineering projects such as bridge building and road improvements.  Virtually untested in battle, Rosecrans was taking a gamble on these men being able to stand up to the Confederate onslaught.  But stand up they did.  When other veteran units were falling back, the Pioneer Brigade held firm.  In all, the regimental history records that they withstood five Confederate assaults.  Despite taking heavy casualties, the Brigade was instrumental in holding the line and denying a Confederate victory at Stones River...
Granted a lull in the early afternoon to strengthen his position, Colonel Hazen and his defiant brigade stood ready when the Confederates resumed their piecemeal attacks against Round Forest in mid-afternoon.  For four hours, wave after wave of Rebel assaults were flung against the forest.  Each time these assaults were swept away by the intensity of the Union fire rained down upon them.  The last assaults were carried out as dusk descended and were repulsed so easily that Union defenders wondered if they actually represented a serious effort on the Confederates part.  As the first day of battle drew to a close, Hazen's Brigade hadn't moved one inch and spread out before and around it was a bloody tapestry of death and destruction.  "Hell's Half-acre' as it would soon be known, marked the turning point in the battle.  The Union line had held firm.  Though both armies had suffered massively this day, the advantage had now shifted to the men in blue...
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Civil War Re-Enactment at Genesee Country Villages Museum, July 18, 2010. Color image used by modern photographers.
I had to smile when I would read on various plaques the Park Service's very unique way of asking visitors to stay off the historic earthworks.  They have used orders given the soldiers at Fortress Rosecrans, orders which they expect folks to follow to this day...  "No one should be allowed to walk on the parapets, nor move or sit upon the gabions, barrels, or sandbags that may be placed upon them." by order of. Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding Army of the Cumberland, United States Army
This unassuming monument was dedicated in 1964 in honor of both the 7th Texas Infantry who fought in the battle for Fort Donelson and the 8th Texas Cavalry which fought at nearby Dover the next year...
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Though the Confederates took a few minutes to rest and regroup as they reached the cotton field that lay between them and the last Union line along the Nashville Pike they soon resumed the offensive. It was a slaughter. The intensity of the fire raining down on them from the Pike drove back the first charge in 10 minutes...

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Though the Confederates took a few minutes to rest and regroup as they reached the cotton field that lay between them and the last Union line along the Nashville Pike they soon resumed the offensive.  It was a slaughter.  The intensity of the fire raining down on them from the Pike drove back the first charge in 10 minutes...
Though the Confederates took a few minutes to rest and regroup as they reached the cotton field that lay between them and the last Union line along the Nashville Pike they soon resumed the offensive. It was a slaughter. The intensity of the fire raining down on them from the Pike drove back the first charge in 10 minutes...

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Photo by: Dan Weemhoff (dwhike) · See photo in original gallery.

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