The Battle of Stones River:
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The regiment now marched to Nashville, Tenn. and remained there until December 26th, 1862. On the 26th, the regiment took up the march for Murfreesboro in Major General Roscrans' plan to move against Bragg's Force holed up in Murfreesboro.
At the battle of Stone's River or Murfreesboro, the 31st Indiana was in the Left Wing of the Army of the Cumberland. They were in the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division commanded by Brigadier Gen. John M. Palmer. The 1st Brigade was led by Gen. Charles Cruft and was made up of the 31st Indiana, 1st Kentucky, 2nd Kentucky and the "green" 90th Ohio.
Both General Roscrans and General Bragg planned similar battle plans. Both planned to hold the right and hit with their left. Bragg beat Rosy to the punch and thus controlled the early part of the battle. Shortly after 6A.M. on the morning of December 31st, 1862, Hardee's men hit McCook on the Union right and began battle. The Union right began to crumble under the sledge hammer attack of the Confederate Army.
The 31st IN and the 2nd KY were in the front line in front of the "Cedar Woods". Col. John Smith says in his History.... "after the skirmishers had been sent out, it was suggested by the Acting Major [John Smith] the building of a stone fence or wall for breastworks. The men laid down their guns and went to work, and in a few minutes you would have thought that every man was a natural-born stonecutter, and that each one was a master-builder. A rail fence in our front was thrown down, and by the time our skirmishers were driven in, our position was next to impregnable. We were here attacked by the brigade of the rebel General J. R. Chalmers, consisting of the Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and Forty-first Mississippi Regiments and Blythe's Mississippi Regiment, together with the Ninth Mississippi Battalion of sharpshooters. The first charge made, Chalmers was carried off the field so severely wounded he did no further duty. The charge was repulsed with fearful slaughter. It made a second charge, and the result was that the brigade was so completely wiped out that the organization was destroyed. Chalmers's brigade was supported by the brigade of General D. S. Donelson, consisting of the Eighth, Sixteenth, Thirty-eighth, Fifty-first, and Eighty-fourth Tennessee Regiments. After Chalmers's total defeat--almost destruction--Donelson's Brigade came up with deliberate, steady step" All the line in Donelson's front was carried, except the extreme right of Palmer's Division.
In consequence of the terrible slaughter of Chalmer's Brigade, which were all Mississippians, that part of the battle-field is known a "Mississippi Half Acre."
Smith continues, "When we went into position here in the morning, we connected with Negley's command on our right, and with Hazen's Brigade on our left. We held our position here after the repulse of Chalmers and Donelson's Brigade until Negley's right had been so far turned that the line of battle stood at right angles with our line. In the meantime the ammunition of the Thirty-first and Second Kentucky having been almost exhausted, an attempt was made to relieve them by sending in the First Kentucky to take the place of the Thirty-first, and the Ninetieth Ohio to relieve the Second Kentucky. When the First Kentucky had nearly reached our Position, the Colonel gave the command to charge. The Thirty-first was ordered to lie down, and the First Kentucky charged immediately over us,....... The First Kentucky soon encountered such an unequal force, and being exposed to a crossfire of both musketry and artillery, that it rapidly fell back, and again charged over the Thirty-first, closely followed by double lines of the enemy. As soon at the First Kentucky had all passed to the rear, the Thirty-first gave the enemy such a deadly volley that they fell back as rapidly as they had come."
The brigades to the left and right began falling back and essentially the Brigade was about to be completely surrounded with no support. Their ammunition running low, a command to fall back was given, but several in the 31st did not hear the command and continued to fight until overrun. Andrew Gosnell was captured at this point, along with several of his comrades, including John Seeds and John Day from his own company "K".
On Jan. 2nd 1863 the battle resumed. The 31st took part in the attack on General John C. Breckenridge's left.
STATS for Stones River: 5 killed, 45 wounded, 6 of these Mortally, and 37 missing.
Andrew Gosnell was sent to Libby prison in Richmond, Virginia. He arrived there on January 15, 1863. Andrew was lucky, because after being confined at the prison for only 5 days, he was exchanged on January 20th and Paroled at City Point, Virginia. He reported in at Camp Parole near Annapolis, Maryland on the 21st and his long journey back home had now begun.
A few days after the battle, the Thirty-first Regiment, together with the brigade, moved out to Cripple Creek, some eight miles east of Murfreesboro, and went into camp, where it remained until the 24th of June, 1863.
Col. John Smith wrote, "From May 4, 1862, the time we left Corinth, Mississippi, to January 3, 1863, the close of the battle of Stone River, was about eight months, or two hundred and forty days. During all this time the regiment was considered in camp ninety-nine days. It actually had its tents up but fifty-six days, leaving one hundred and eighty-four days that the men were exposed to the inclemency of the weather, just as it came, without shelter of any kind, and the worst weather that came found us without our tents, and on short rations. During this time the regiment was under fire, in actual battle, twelve days, beside various skirmishes that sometimes amounted to quite a respectable little battle."
"The most laborious marching we had to do was what was called "flanking." The troops followed the road, and each regiment would detail a company, one-half of which were thrown out on each side of the road, two or three hundred yards, and march in Indian file, keeping as near the same distance as possible from the troops in the road. Of course fences, hills, and ravines had to be crossed, streams had to be waded, thickets and brier patches had to be penetrated, and, at the same time, you had to keep up with the troops in the road."
"Another laborious duty, one that got to be quite burdensome, was "train guarding." The trains, of course, would be given the road, and the guards would have to march as best they could, and, in the event a team got stuck in the mud, the guards had to lay down their guns, and put their shoulders to the wheels. This train guarding was almost an every-day business, and the Thirty-first Regiment, somehow, was lucky in getting jobs of this kind to do. It was astonishing to see how quick a wagon could be repaired. If an axle should break, with scarcely no tools, and with no material except such as could be picked on a farm where the rails had all disappeared, a man or two would go to work, and the next morning the wagon would be up and ready for use. The method of repairing a wheel was different. If a wheel gave way, the teamster would drive to one side of the road, and wait till night, and then look out for a teamster who was off his guard, or a wagon that was not under the immediate eye of a sentinel, when it was only the work of a moment to take a good wheel off and put the broken one on. I have heard it said that sometimes a wheel would be carried five miles before the exchange could be made. It was insisted that there was no stealing in this, for the wagons all belonged to Uncle Sam, and that they were working for him. Be this as it may, it had all the symptoms of stealing.
"Andrew Gosnell made it back to his regiment at Cripple Creek, TN in early June.