… or is it really Stone’s River? Maybe I should have gone with Murfressboro.
Here it is Stone River. Someday, after all this talk about fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings is gone (which will be never), we need to convene a panel that decides on these names once and for all, which will be a lasting contribution of the sesquicentennial.
Normally, I’d have something really, really important and interesting to say about this battle. However, as it involved both William S. Rosecrans and George H. Thomas, both of whom have active fan clubs where some of the members are convinced that people who write about Grant or Sherman have something against Old Rosey and Slow Trot, I feel it is important to reaffirm their prejudices and say that this battle was much ado about very little. Certainly critics of Grant and Sherman at Shiloh will have to explain why Rosecrans allowed himself to be pushed back as far as he was on December 31, and the action of January 2, much like the battle on April 7, has received far less attention that the first day of both of these battles. At best this is another one of those battles that could have been more important (as in dealing Rosecrans a major defeat), but was not. That’s why it reminds me of Shiloh: a bloody engagement where the couldas and shouldas make it more important, and where a Union general held his ground under fire, even as people died around him.
Yes, I know: after the failures at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg, anything other than a bloody setback was good news to some people. After all, I can remember how as a fan of the 1972-73 Islanders I welcomed a tie as an improvement on some sixty losses. But is that the best case that can be made for this battle? You tell me.