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History of Cambria County, V.2

third of their men. The battle waged with even chances until after 2 o'clock. Bragg decided that his only chance for success was to make a charge on the left flank of Company's C's division, and at 4 o'clock it was started with a dash and the usual Confederate yell. The enemy appeared in an open field and were rushing on when Rosecrans' artillery opened on the advancing foe. It was a terrible blast of bullets and shell; men put cotton in their ears to deaden the sound; huge gaps were torn in the line at every discharge. The line wavered and staggered half the distance over the field, but still went on. The artillery fire was augmented by the fire of the infantry, which became a storm of leaden hail. The enemy wavered, stopped, and then fell back, and the fight of the day before New Year's was over. The next day passed away without a demonstration, but both armies were preparing for the final struggle.
    During the abeyance (Friday, January 2, 1863), Rosecrans withdrew his left wing to the east side of Stone river, to a more advantageous position. Notwithstanding the change, Bragg ordered another charge to be made on Rosecran's left wing; 6,000 troops obeyed the order. As the enemy approached, Crittenden said to Mendenhall, his chief of artillery, "You must cover my men with your guns." Well was it done. Fifty-eight pieces of artillery played on the advancing enemy, with over a hundred shots a minute. For a few minutes the enemy held their ground. When the artillery ceased firing Rosecrans' line west of the river crossed and came on with a dash and a hurrah on a bayonet charge which Bragg could not stand. On the night of the 3d Gen. Bragg retreated south of the Elk river, but was ordered back to Tullahoma by Gen. Johnston.
    Brig.-Gen. P.H. Sheridan, who commanded the Third Division of the Fourteenth Corps, in his "Memoirs," says of this battle, that his "effective force was 4,154 and lost 1,633, or nearly 40 per cent. * * I never experienced in any of my commands so high a rate of casualties." Rosecrans lost 31 1/2 per cent, and Bragg nearly 28 per cent.
    The official records for December 31 show that Rosecrans had 43,400 troops and Bragg had 37,712. The former lost 11,578 and the latter 14,560.

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Created: 16 Mar 2003, Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors