Union soldiers hid behind stone and rail breastworks as men fled across the river chased by Confederates. Union cannon firing from above McFadden’s Ford halted the Confederates with shot, shell, and canister, killing and wounding over 1,800 men in less than an hour. This was the battle’s final action.
Both armies spent New Year’s Day reorganizing, resupplying, and caring for the wounded and dead. Confederate General Bragg thought that Union General Rosecrans would retreat back towards Nashville. Instead, Rosecrans decided that they should stay and fight, and prepared to defend his position.
Along the opposite bank of the river, Union artillery trained their guns on the gray mass and waited for the chance to change the tide of the battle. As the Confederates came within range, the cannons began to fire. The earth shook and explosions ripped the air. For the Confederates, horror and despair dashed the momentary thrill of victory.
In 1906, the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway dedicated this monument on the site where Union artillery did its deadly work on January 2, 1863. The plaque on the monument reads:
The Very Forest Seemed to Fall
Read the wayside exhibit about the 58 Union cannons that fired on the attacking Confederates.
My Poor Orphans!
Read the wayside exhibit about the Orphan Brigade and the losses they sustained.
Remembering by Rail
Read the wayside exhibit about the Artillery Monument and the role of the railroad in remembering the Civil War.
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Last updated: May 5, 2020