Talk:Battle of Stones River

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What is the case for Confederate victory? It seems like a rather decisive defeat. MarcusGraly 18:48, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, this is a case of my paying attention to editing the text of the article and not to the battle box. Stones River was tactically inconclusive because the two sides merely pounded each other into exhaustion, although in a formal sense Bragg was the loser of the battle because he withdrew first. However, it was a strategic Union victory in a number of senses, including pushing back the Confederates farther south into Tennessee, but also because of the positive effect it had on Union morale. [User:Hlj|Hal Jespersen] 19:08, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
As a child, we made a family trip to the Carter House, a plantation home that served as hospital during the Battle of Franklin, one of the South's worst defeats. Our tour was led by an elderly Southern lady. During the tour, someone asked our docent, "Who won the battle?" She replied, "Well . . .It was kind of a draw." Moral of the story: In the South, all battles were either won by the Confederacy or fought to an honorable stalemate. Sayeth 19:46, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
In response to the Moral of the Previous story, I would like to point out that even amongst military historians who wins a battle depends upon the criteria used to determine victors. For instance, in the 1864 Battle of Franklin the confederate Army of Tennessee won a tactical victory due to the retreat of the Union Army - however they most definitely lost that battle in the strategic (and morale) interpretations due to the horrible casualties suffered on the union breastworks, the massive loss of officers in the confederate ranks most certainly won them the City of Franklin in the tactical sense, but also most certainly cemented forever the loss of the entire western area of operations to the Confederate cause. As for the specific difficulties in declaring a winner to the Battle of Stones River, the Army of Tennessee decidedly took the first day of battle, and inflicted a near catastrophic collapse of the Union right wing. They also inflicted a greater number of casualties to the numerically superior Union Army of the Cumberland over the length of the entire Battle. When Braxton Bragg left the field after the 3rd days battle he declared a Confederate victory which was reported in the southern press, the Union army stopped in murfreesboro and licked it's wounds for the next six months before proceeding with the Tullahoma Campaign and it's general also declared victory which was reported in the northern press.
The winners were hardly clear cut at the time, and as such historians have to make qualified references to victors based on the complete picture they should have. I feel personally that the popular history of the civil war has been colored by the later Civil Rights movement and the efforts of such groups as the third Ku Klux Klan who were already 100 years removed from history when they conducted marches carrying the Confederate battle flag and the nature of slavery which was ended in one form by this conflict that started over excise dues. L0stUs3r (talk) 09:09, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
The winner of any battle is usually determined by examining the objectives of the opponents and seeing who achieved them and who did not. At Stones River, Rosecrans failed to destroy Bragg, but caused him to withdraw to Tullahoma. Bragg achieved nothing other than trading casualties with Rosecrans. This battle is sometimes described as a draw because of these results, although the NPS citation is for a Union victory, probably thinking about the strategic situation more than the tactical. The results of part of the battle aren't too important; otherwise you could argue that Lee won at Gettysburg because he did so well on July 1. No one describes Franklin as a Confederate tactical victory. Prior to the battle, Schofield intended to withdraw north to join with Thomas and Hood attacked to prevent that, but the Confederates failed to achieve their objective. Hal Jespersen (talk) 18:05, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
I would like to point out that the confederates did seize the field works of the union army at franklin, Hoods intent may have been to wipe out Schofield's command - but his orders were to take the earthworks, tactically speaking, as he told his troops on the morning of December 1, 1864 they did win a victory in taking the city of Franklin. Strategically speaking the Battle of Nashville does talk volumes of Hood's failure. I must also submit that Lee did loose Gettysberg after a fine first day, as did Bragg loose Stones River after a stunning first day. I must congratulate your fine contributions to the wiki Civil War articles as well, your maps are spectacular.L0stUs3r (talk) 19:03, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

The Night Before[edit]

I removed the following paragraph;

The armies bivouacked only 700 yards (640 m) from each other, and their bands started a musical battle that became a non-lethal preview of the next day's events. Northern musicians played Yankee Doodle and Hail, Columbia and they were answered by Dixie and The Bonnie Blue Flag. Finally, one band started playing Home Sweet Home and the others joined in. Thousands of Northern and Southern soldiers sang the sentimental song together across the lines.

I reviewed Cozzens' "No Better Place to Die" (pages 71 thru 80); his description of the night before the battle supports the 700 yards (the distance from McCook's wing to the CSA lines) but everything else suggests a very silent night -- one in which sounds of preparation could be heard across the lines. I believe the paragraph needs sourcing before being restored. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 23:03, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

The paragraph does not say that the bands played all night, so you are reading too much into it. There easily could have been music followed by a night of silence. I have provided two sources for the bands -- McPherson and Foote -- and move Lamers into the References to verify the 700 yards. If you would like to include alternative viewpoints, go ahead. I acknowledge that you are within your rights under Wikipedia editing rules to simply delete material that is uncited, but I think it would make more sense to approach well formed articles that have been stable for a long time with the use of {{Fact}} templates instead of deletion. (When I wrote this article, it was an uncommon practice within Wikipedia to use lots of citations and I frankly thought at the time that listing a half dozen references would adequately cover the verifiability of all of the article. This kind of practice is long behind me, although as a practical matter it will take a longer time to go back and reapply current standards for citations.) Hal Jespersen (talk) 00:37, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
My attention was directed to this particular paragraph because of the IP edit immediately proceeding mine. I attempted to verify the paragraph and went to the most likely source to have such a detail -- the Cozzens book. Cozzens is fairly detailed and doesn't mention it. While the failure to mention something doesn't prove anything, sentences like "As the twilight melted into darkness an uneasy silence fell across the lines" seem inconsistent with the musical event suggested. If I were writing the article from scratch and had Foote and McPherson (neither citing a source themselves) and no logical chronological place to add it to the Cozzens details, I would have left it out or included it in an informational footnote.
If I had simply deleted the material without any effort to verify, that would be one thing. However I did make an effort to verify it, copied the material to the discussion page so it wouldn't be lost, explained my reasoning, and provided a source. In any event, I'm not trying to fuss with you, and I don't thing you were trying to fuss with me -- I'm just 'splaning is all. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 03:46, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Casualty numbers[edit]

In the Aftermath section, the article states: "Total casualties in the battle were 28,878: 12,906 on the Union side and 14,439 for the Confederates." Yet 12,906 + 14,439 = 27,345. Also, the article's breakdown/stat box at the beginning, it states that Confederate casualties were 11,739. There appears to be some inconsistency here. Harry Yelreh (talk) 06:58, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Oops! Some arithmetic errors were found and corrected recently in the information box, but we neglected to update the same information in the Aftermath section. Fixed. Thanks for noticing. Hal Jespersen (talk) 20:37, 25 May 2011 (UTC)


This article describes that there was a group pf Danish immigrants fighting on the Federal side in the battle - several died. Perhaps worth mentioning.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:49, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

A lot of immigrants fought in that battle. Why is this particular group noteworthy? (Speaking as a guy with a Danish surname...) Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:30, 3 February 2012 (UTC)


The first two maps appear identical: they are both labelled "8am Dec 31", although the first is supposed to be "Movements and positions the night of Dec 30 ..." Baska436 (talk) 04:55, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

When the image files were transferred from Wikipedia to Wikimedia in June, a bot apparently copied the wrong file. Fixed (you may have to refresh your browser cache to see the change). Thank you for finding this and Happy New Year! Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:44, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Hal - good article! Baska436 (talk) 09:11, 4 January 2013 (UTC)