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Veterans called this blood-soaked open ground ahead of you Hells Half-Acre. Here a brigade of 1,600 blue-coat infantry faced wave after wave of attackers attempting to overrun them. Four times Confederate brigades charged. Four times the defenders here gave no ground.
At dawn, 43,000 Union soldiers had stretched from McFadden’s Ford, one mile to the north, to the Smith farm three miles to the south. By noon, half of that huge army had folded back on itself, like a pocketknife closing, with 13,000 men dead, wounded, or captured.
Four regiments that fought so fiercely here under Colonel William Hazen were the hinge of that folding knife. From 9 a.m. to dusk, Hazen’s men were the only Federals to hold their ground on the first day of battle at Stones River.
John Magee, corporal, Stanfords Mississippi Light Artillery
December 31st 1862, mid-afternoon