As those of us in the Central Time Zone prepare to say goodbye to 2010, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and remind you of the anniversary of two battles in the Western Theater. 2011 will mark the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, where historians and the public will reflect on the major battles and other events of the war and their larger significance to our national history. While the 150th is two years away, today, December 31, is the anniversary of two battles in Tennessee: the Battle of Parker’s Cross Roads and the Battle of Stone’s River (Murfreesboro in the South).
Parker’s Cross Roads was a Confederate victory and fought in the western part of the state. Nathan Bedford Forrest was the Confederate commander at this battle. This battle is significant to me, as one of my ancestors (I am still attempting to trace the relationship) died of wounds on January 1, 1863 suffered in the battle.
In contrast, Stone’s River was a Union victory and the battle lasted until January 2, 1863. It is important because it boosted Union morale after the defeat at Fredericksburg. It also had more casualties than Shiloh and Antietam, as well as has the highest percentage of casualties in terms of strength of opposing forces (roughly one-third). A major national cemetery was established at the battlefield, which I toured as part of the reunion of the First Infantry Division that I attended with my dad a few years back. It was a great time and the park staff put on a wonderful memorial service (part of the Union army consisted of regiments who eventually were incorporated into the Division).
These two battles, while minor in the larger context of the war, are important and that their anniversary coincides with New Year’s Eve is quite interesting, as it makes one think of how the soldiers considered the new year. Further, it forces us to remember that for those in a combat zone, the new year was likely not as happy, and, some never lived to see it. I hope you enjoyed this little posting and wish you all a Happy New Year and thank you for your continued support in 2011.