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Battle of Murfreesboro

The first Battle of Murfreesboro took place on July 13, 1862. Units of cavalry under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest, which had set out from Chattanooga and collected additional forces during the trip, struck the unsuspecting Union forces at dawn. By the end of the day, all Union forces in the city had surrendered. The Union defeat stymied their plan to attack Chattanooga and enabled the Confederates to hold Middle Tennessee. After more than a year of the Civil War, President Lincoln replaced D.C. Buell with William Rosecrans as head of the Army of the Cumberland. Beginning in the final days of December 1862, Rosecrans engaged Confederate General Braxton Bragg on the banks of the west fork of the Stones River, near Murfreesboro in central Tennessee. In the North, this became known as the Battle of Stones River, while in the South is is called the Battle of Murfreesboro. No clear victor emerged from the battle. Both sides suffered heavy casualties estimated at 9,000 each. In fact, as a proportion of the forces involved, the Battle of Stones River was among the bloodiest of the entire war. Each side lost between a quarter and a third of its soldiers either killed or wounded. The encounter was significant because the Confederates were forced out of central Tennessee. In addition, Philip Sheridan emerged as a promising Union military figure. The battlefield is now the Stones River National Military Park. The town of Murfreesboro is the county seat of Rutherford County and lies 29 miles southeast of Nashville at an elevation of 575 feet.