Crossroads of Death

My last post was entitled “Crossroads of Life”, focusing on the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, forever changing America for the better.

This post is entitled “Crossroads of Death”, for a key battle that took place in the same time period, beginning December 31, 1862, and ending January 3, 1863.

The USA called it The Battle of Stone’s Creek. The CSA called it The Battle of Murfreesboro.  Either way, it was a watershed clash with critical consequences.

Rosecrans_at_Stones_River

Of all the battles in the Civil War, the highest percentage of casualties on both sides occurred here. One out of every three soldiers engaged in this bloodbath was either killed or wounded. The carnage was inconceivable. As confederates charged one key federal position, four of every five attackers were shot down. No surprise that this hillock was thereafter dubbed “Hell’s Half Acre.”

Prior to this turning point, southern armies in the eastern theatre had repeatedly whipped the northern armies. But Union General Rosencrans proved at Stone’s Creek that the boys in blue could give as good as they got. Northerners finally won a hard-fought struggle with bravery, determination and sacrifice.

Eventually, this battle would enable Union General Sherman to seize control across  Tennessee, readying a surge into Georgia, dealing a mortal cut to the CSA. When my great-grandfather, Archie Van Orden, read news of the great victory at Stone’s Creek, it steeled his resolve to re-enlist for the US Cavalry in 1863.

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