Tennessee laws for dating
Two more brigades arrived, and they were sent in, reinforced by other elements of Polk's corps. Thomas responded with a limited counterattack that cleared his front. Bragg's plan had had a fundamental flaw: although his objective was to cut Rosecrans's line of communication (the Nashville Pike), his attack drove the Union defenders to concentrate at that point.
Bragg's biographer, Grady Mc Whiney, observed: Unless the Union army collapsed at the first onslaught, it would be pushed back into a tighter and stronger defensive position as the battle continued, while the Confederate forces would gradually lose momentum, become disorganized, and grow weaker.
Philip Sheridan in the right center of the line prevented a total collapse and the Union assumed a tight defensive position backing up to the Nashville Turnpike. Bragg attempted to continue the assault with the corps of Maj. Fighting resumed on January 2, 1863, when Bragg ordered Breckinridge to assault the well-fortified Union position on a hill to the east of the Stones River. The Union also engaged in a strategic cavalry raid. Carter raided the upper Tennessee Valley from Manchester, Kentucky. He canceled his orders that Breckinridge send reinforcements across the river, which diluted the effectiveness of the main attack.
The two armies were in parallel lines, about four miles (six km) long, oriented from southwest to northeast.
On December 30, the Union force moved into line two miles (three km) northwest of Murfreesboro.
This caused Bragg to lose the confidence of the Army of Tennessee. Don Carlos Buell, the Union commander at Perryville, was equally passive and refused to attack Bragg. The Army of the Cumberland marched southeast the day after Christmas in three columns, or "wings", towards Murfreesboro, and they were effectively harassed by Wheeler's Confederate cavalry along the way, which delayed their movements. Repeated attacks on the left flank of the Union line were repulsed by Col. Hazen's brigade in a rocky, 4-acre (16,000 m) wooded area named "Round Forest" by the locals; it became known as "Hell's Half-Acre". He declared that it had to be held, "even if it cost the last man we had." Hazen's brigade was the only part of the original Union line to hold.
Falsely believing that Rosecrans was receiving reinforcements, Bragg chose to withdraw his army on January 3 to Tullahoma, Tennessee. But none of the cavalry raids, Confederate or Union, had any significant effect on the Stones River Campaign. The Union troops regrouped and held the Nashville Pike, supported by reinforcements and massed artillery. When he was informed that the 3rd's regimental commander was dead, he decided to take personal command of the defensive position.
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Although the battle itself was inconclusive, the Union Army's repulse of two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal were a much-needed boost to Union morale after the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and it dashed Confederate aspirations for control of Middle Tennessee. Bragg reorganized his army, and Kirby Smith left for East Tennessee. The only troops available for such an assault were Breckinridge's, and Bragg ordered him to cross the river, but Breckinridge moved slowly.