Force of a Cyclone: The Battle of Stones River, December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863

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Caroline Ann Davis/Robert M. Dunkerly
Pub Date:
June 2023
Paperback, 6 x 9
75 images, 10 maps, 192pp.
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 Ebook coming soon!

About the Book

All of middle Tennessee held its breath when the new year dawned in 1863.

On the previous day, December 31—the last day of 1862—just outside Murfreesboro along Stones River, the Confederate Army of Tennessee had launched a morning attack that nearly bent the Federal Army of the Cumberland back upon itself.

The two armies, nearly equal in size, had prepared identical attack plans, but the Confederates had struck first. Fighting throughout the day, amid the rocky outcroppings and cedar groves, proved desperate. Federals managed to hold on until dark, but as the last hours of the old year slipped away, the Army of the Cumberland faced possible annihilation.

The armies rang in the New Year to the sounds of suffering on the battlefield, although the armies themselves remained largely still.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles to the east, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He needed battlefield victories to bolster its authority, but thus far, those victories had eluded him. The stakes for the Army of the Cumberland, in the wake of other Federal failures were enormous.

But the fighting along Stones River was not over. On January 2, Confederates launched another massive assault.

In Force of a Cyclone: The Battle of Stones River, December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863, authors Caroline Davis and Bert Dunkerly explore a significant turning point of the Civil War—a battle that had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Lincoln himself often looked back on that fragile New Year’s Day and all that was at stake. “I can never forget whilst I remember anything,” he told Federal commander Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, “that about the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard-earned victory, which, had there been a defeat instead the nation could scarcely have lived over.”


Caroline Ann Davis studied American history at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and historical preservation with a concentration on public history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. In 2015, she worked at the Stones River National Battlefield through the Student Conservation Association. During her summer there she began researching the battle and surrounding area’s history, while giving multiple tours of the battlefield. This is her first book in the Emerging Civil War Series. Robert M. (Bert) Dunkerly studied history at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, and historic preservation at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, where he first began studying the battle. He has given tours of the battlefield and researched its history, preservation, and National Cemetery. He has authored three other books in the Emerging Civil War Series and is active in historic preservation and research.