The Union Army of the Cumberland had been in Tennessee, near Nashville. Major General William Rosencrans was the commander and kept his army at Nashville to resupply and await orders from Washington. At the end of December 1862, those orders came, The Army of the Cumberland was again to move on General Braxton Bragg and his forces. General Bragg had also received intelligence where the Union troops were and began to move towards them. On December 31, 1862, both Rosencrans and Bragg decided to attack the other right flank, but Bragg’s army struck first driving the Union right back and creating a great exposure to the Union side.
The Union soldiers were hit hard but kept fighting, Bragg’s attack had nearly encircled the the Union forces. Heavy fighting continued through New Year Day 1863, overnight on January 1, Bragg had received intelligence of a possible Union retreat, Bragg however chose to keep his units in place. During the early hours of January 2nd, Rosencrans had ordered the re-positioning of his artillery units. The next morning, Bragg’s army attacked the Union left and were met with heavy artillery fire, the Union army continued to hold their ground. On January 3rd, Bragg withdrew his positions along Stones River. While the Union had lost more soldiers in death, injury and capture, Bragg’s withdrawal gave the Union an important victory and a strategic position of control in the south.