Hell by the Acre: A Narrative History of the Stones River Campaign, November 1862-January 1863

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Daniel A. Masters
Pub Date:
Fall 2024
25 images; 17 maps; 640 pp.

eBook coming soon!

About the book

The waning days of 1862 marked a nadir in the fortunes of the Union. After major defeats at Fredericksburg in Virginia and Chickasaw Bayou in Mississippi, it fell to Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland to secure a victory that would give military teeth to the Emancipation Proclamation set to take effect on January 1, 1863. Rosecrans moved his army out of Nashville on the day after Christmas to Murfreesboro, met Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee, and fought one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the war. The full campaign, with extensive new material and coverage, is the subject of Daniel Masters’ new Hell by the Acre: A Narrative History of the Stones River Campaign, November 1862-January 1863.

The opposing armies, 44,000 men under Rosecrans and 37,000 under Bragg, locked bayonets on December 31, 1862, in some of the hardest fighting of the war. Bragg’s initial attack drove the Federals back nearly three miles, captured 29 cannons, and thousands of prisoners. Somehow the Union lines held firm during the critical fighting along the Nashville Pike that afternoon against repeated determined attacks that left both armies bloodied and exhausted. The decisive moment came two days later when, in the fading afternoon of January 2, 1863, Bragg launched an assault on an isolated Union division on the east bank of Stones River. Once again, the Confederates enjoyed initial success only to be repulsed by 58 Union guns arrayed along the west bank and a daring counterattack. This repulse broke Bragg’s hold on Murfreesboro. He retreated the following night, leaving Rosecrans and his army victors of the field.

Stones River was the quintessential soldiers’ battle. Prior books focus more on the generalship and high-level commands than the often-forgotten men in the ranks. Masters constructed his study from the ground up by focusing on the experiences of the front-line troops through hundreds of archival and firsthand accounts, many of which have never been published. Hell by the Acre is an unparalleled soldier’s view of Civil War combat and tactical command. Stones River marked a turning point for Federal fortunes in the Western Theater, and this fresh and original study sets forth the hefty cost of securing that victory for the Union.











Daniel A. Masters is a graduate of the University of Toledo with a BA in communications. Perhaps best known for his popular blog Dan Masters’ Civil War Chronicles, his work focuses on the war in the Western Theater from the perspective of the men in the ranks. He is the author of many articles in various journals and magazines and ten books on the Civil War. His 2017 Sherman’s Praetorian Guard won a local history publication award from Bowling Green State University; his most recent work, a collaboration with Larry M. Strayer entitled Echoes of Battle: Annals of Ohio’s Soldiers in the Civil War, was released in 2022. Dan is a supply chain manager for a metals manufacturing company. He, his wife Amy, and five of his six children live and work in Perrysburg, Ohio.