“This monumentally ambitious novel covers in exquisite and graphic detail one of the bloodiest two-day engagements of the Civil War” (Publishers Weekly).
December 30, 1862: Outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the forty-three thousand men of Maj. General William Starke Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland faced the thirty-eight thousand Confederate soldiers of Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. It had been a dismal month for the Union. In the east, the Army of the Potomac suffered a terrible defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia; in the west, Grant failed yet again to breach the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The Emancipation Proclamation was to go into effect on New Year’s Day, but after the disasters in December, Lincoln’s decree seemed less the assertion of a great moral imperative than a desperate attempt to shore up a crumbling cause. Rosecrans was to engage Bragg and win. That evening, the bands of both armies played, while the eighty thousand soldiers joined in singing Home Sweet Home. At dawn, they would set about killing each other.
At the Battle of Stones River, thousands will fall in savage fighting across the fields and woods of middle Tennessee. The carnage will awaken the best in some men––courage, sacrifice, and honor; the worst in others––cruelty, cowardice, and depravity. In arenas dubbed “the Slaughter Pen” and “Hell’s Half Acre,” the Blue and Gray are about to collide.