The 1st OVI at the Battle of Stones River

The Army of the Cumberland, under Major General William S. Rosecrans, had been camped outside of Nashville, Tennessee since November 16, 1862.  On December 26 General Rosecrans ordered the army south from Nashville toward Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to drive Confederate General Braxton Bragg from Tennessee.  The 1st OVI moved out on the Nolinsville Turnpike, with the right wing of the army, about noon in the midst of a drenching rainstorm.  During the march to Murfressboro, the 1st OVI was almost constantly skirmishing with elements of Confederate General William S. Hardee’s Corps.

The 1st OVI reached the vicinity Murfreesboro on December 30.  On December 31, the Battle of Stones River began.  The following is from “Ohio in the War.”

“The First Ohio, at daylight, was stationed on the right, with R. W. Johnson’s Second Division.  The pickets were driven in at six o’clock.  The First was immediately formed in line of battle and stationed across an open field behind a fence, and formed the right of Johnson’s front line.  Within five minutes the enemy’s skirmishers advanced, but were quickly repulsed.  Following their skirmishers, the enemy advanced in force, but were promptly checked.  This action lasted half an hour, when another heavy force made its appearance on the right and rear of the First, compelling the regiment to fall back.  In effecting this, it encountered the Louisville Legion, which formed second line, at a time when it was making a change of front to meet the onset on it flank.  This created some confusion in both regiments.  Order was partially restored, however, and the fight continued, but the entire National right wing was so hardly pressed that it was forced back on the center, creating for a time much confusion.  After several ineffectual attempts at a stand, it finally reached the line of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.  At this point, the enemy held in check. and finally driven back.  After hard fighting, a line of battle was re-established and maintained until the close of action.”

The Battle of Stones River continued through January 2, 1863.  On January 3, the Confederate Army retreated in a drenching rain.  On January 4, the Union Army determined that the Confederate Army had retreated, but did not pursue the Confederate Army.  The 1st OVI passed through Murfreesboro on January 6 and went into camp four miles out on the Shelbyville Turnpike.  While in camp, the Army of the Cumberland was again reorganized and the 1st OVI was placed in the Second Division of the Twentieth Army Corps.  The 1st OVI remained in camp outside Murfreesboro until June 24, 1863.

The Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  Of the approximately 44,000 Union and 34,000 Rebel soldiers engaged in the battle, there were 13,000 Union and 10,000 Rebel casualties.  Northern leaders considered Stones River a Union victory.  It cost the Confederates not only a little more of Tennessee, but a lot of what they could not afford to lose — men.

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