Forrest fights at Parker’s Crossroads/Red Mound trying to break through a Federal line after successful raids on Grant’s supply lines and communications. As he begins to drive the Union troops back, he is attacked from behind by Gen. Jeremiah Sullivan. Surrounded, Forrest fights his way out and escapes, but loses nearly 300 men.
Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) begins. Bragg’s army pushes Federals back to the Nashville Turnpike. Skirmish at Overall’s Creek.
“This has been a most eventful day. At daylight this morning very heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Murfreesboro…. About 1 P.M. it was less frequent and seemed fainter—could it be that our [gallant] fellows were driving the Vandal before them?… Darlin’ [her pet name for her husband John] went into town [McMinnville] and came home about 11 o’clock with glorious news…. [Our troops] had whipped the enemy—loss heavy on both sides…. I could scarcely keep from crying for joy when Darlin’ told me the news…. I could not sleep for thinking of the poor fellows who were lying on the battlefield— some cold in death —others shivering with cold and writhing in pain…. [But] who was there with a warm glance to cheer their last agonizing hours?… The surgeons are busy tonight—the little city of Murfreesboro is full of the wounded. God help them!” [Lucy Virginia French, journal]
December 31-Jan 2
Battle of Stones River (also known as the Second Battle of Murfreesboro). Of the major battles, Stones River has the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although there is no clear victor, the Union Army’s defense against two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal gives a much-needed boost to Union morale after their loss at Fredericksburg, and dashes Confederate hopes for control of Middle Tennessee.
At the end of the year the Richmond Enquirer carries these stories: the Con- federate army in East Tennessee has gone into winter quarters; Longstreet’s men are said to be without shoes, despite the fact that the weather is extremely cold and the mountains are covered with snow; 300 cases of smallpox are reported among the Yankee prisoners at Danville.
> The Atlanta Intelligencer comments: “Our losses [in] East Tennessee … are incalculable. We are not only deprived of the vast flour mills of that country, which previously supplied the whole army, but also of vast machine shops and depots, which we had extensively organized at Knoxville. Beside this, we are now entirely cut off from the coal, iron and copper mines of that region, which were worth millions to us. The copper rolling mills at Cleveland … which were burnt by the enemy, formerly turned out 6,000 pounds of copper per day. Over three millions of pounds had been delivered to the Government. This was the only copper rolling mill in the country, and which kept us supplied in copper for caps and cannon. This is among our losses by the battle of Chattanooga, which are spoken of as merely resulting in a few thousand men and 38 cannon.”
End of December 1864
Grant has launched a series of attacks on the Confederate lines in front of Petersburg throughout the fall and winter. Although he makes no substantial gains, little by little he chips away at Lee’s dwindling army until it becomes clear that, by the time spring comes, Lee’s thin lines will not be able to endure an attack of any great scale. The public, which has been impatient with the lack of movement in this theater of the war, is encouraged – as they were by the twin victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863 – by the triumphs of Sherman in Georgia and Thomas in Tennessee.