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Gen. Braxton Bragg
Gen. Braxton Bragg, Commander Army of Tennessee.
Courtesy National Archives.
Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans
Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, Commander Army of the Cumberland.
Courtesy National Archives.

Winter 1863

After the battle of Stones River, or Murfreesboro, Tenn., December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, the Union Army of the Cumberland, under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by Gen. Braxton Bragg, remained relatively inactive for several months. During this time the Union forces entrenched themselves at Murfreesboro. General Bragg withdrew his forces southward and established his headquarters at Tullahoma. He placed his army in a defensive position to cover the routes, both rail and road, to Chattanooga.

Impatient at the inaction, the War Department in Washington urged Rosecrans to move against Bragg's army. Grant, conducting his Vicksburg campaign, wanted pressure applied against Bragg's army to prevent all or part of it from reinforcing the Confederates in Mississippi. At the same time Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, reminded the authorities in Washington of the plight of the East Tennesseans. During this period, Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside gathered a Union force and made plans to invade East Tennessee.

Rosecrans hesitated to move. His lack of cavalry was a disadvantage in gathering intelligence and prevented him from countering the Confederate cavalry which harassed him constantly. In June, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, general in chief, U. S. Army, wired Rosecrans asking him, "Is it your intention to make an immediate movement forward? A definite answer, yes or no, is required." Rosecrans telegraphed: "In reply to your inquiry, if immediate means tonight or tomorrow, no. If it means as soon as all things are ready, say five days, yes." On June 24, General Rosecrans put his army of some 60,000 men in motion.

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