Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

Thursday, January 1, AD 2015

Rosecrans Avatar

(I posted this on the last day of 2013.  I adopt this as my pledge to all readers of The American Catholic during the coming year, which I suspect will be a tempestuous one.)

 

My avatar when I blog and when I comment on blogs is Major General William Rosecrans. As my personal motto for the coming year I will adopt one of his sayings: Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

Outside of his family, General William S. Rosecrans had three great passions in his life: His religion, Roman Catholicism, to which he had converted as a cadet at West Point, the Army and the Union. In the Civil War all three passions coincided. Rising to the rank of Major General and achieving command of the Army of the Cumberland, until he was removed in the aftermath of the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Rosecrans conducted himself in the field as if he were a Crusader knight of old.

Raised a Methodist, Rosecrans’ conversion was a life long turning point for him. He wrote to his family with such zeal for his new-found faith that his brother Sylvester began to take instruction in the Faith. Sylvester would convert, become a priest, and eventually be the first bishop of Columbus, Ohio.

His most precious possession was his Rosary and he said the Rosary at least once each day. In battle the Rosary would usually be in his hand as he gave commands. He had a personal chaplain, Father Patrick Treacy, who said Mass for him each morning and would busy himself the rest of the day saying masses for the troops and helping with the wounded. In battle he exposed himself to enemy fire ceaselessly as he rode behind the General. Rosecrans, after military matters were taken care of, delighted in debating theology with his staff officers late into the evening.

As a general Rosecrans was in the forefront of Union commanders until his defeat at Chickamauga. His removal from command following the battle was controversial at the time and has remained controversial, some historians seeing in it a continuation by Grant, who was placed in charge of Chattanooga following Chickamauga, of his long-standing feud with Rosecrans. Certainly Rosecrans had already drafted the plan followed by Grant to reopen the lines of supply to the Union forces in Chickamauga. Go here to read a spirited defense of General Rosecrans which appeared in issue 401 of The Catholic World in 1898.

Rosecrans resigned from the Army in 1867 and had a successful business career. He served in Congress from 1881-1885.

He narrowly missed being the first Catholic president of the United States. General James Garfield, an Ohio Republican Congressman and future president, who had served under him, telegraphed Rosecrans during the 1864 Republican Convention to see if the Democrat Rosecrans would serve as Veep on a Union ticket with Lincoln. Rosecrans gave a cautiously positive reply but Garfield never received the telegram and the nomination went to Andrew Johnson. Rosecrans suspected that the telegram had been intercepted by Rosecrans’ old nemesis, Secretary of War Stanton.

One hundred and fifty-two years ago Rosecrans was fighting a huge battle at Stones River in Tennessee that would last from December 31, 1862-January 3, 1863. He succeeded in defeating Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee and drove him from central Tennessee. It was an important victory, a needed shot in the arm for the Union after the disaster of Fredericksburg. Lincoln wrote to Rosecrans:

“You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

During that battle he was a man on fire, constantly charging to points of danger, heedless of risks to himself, rallying his men, inspiring them and beating off Confederate charge after Confederate charge. Rosecrans was in the maelstrom of particularly vicious fighting when his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche, a fellow Catholic who had been made a Knight of Saint Sylvester by Pope Pius IX, warned him about risking himself to enemy fire. “Never mind me, my boy, but make the sign of the cross and go in!” A moment later, a cannon shell careened into the general’s entourage, beheading Garesche and spraying his brains all over Rosecrans’ overcoat. Rosecrans’ mourned his friend, as he mourned all his brave men who died in that fight, but that didn’t stop him an instant from leading his army to victory.

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5 Responses to Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

Tuesday, December 31, AD 2013

General William S. Rosecrans

My avatar when I blog and when I comment on blogs is Major General William Rosecrans.  As my personal motto for the coming year I will adopt one of his sayings:  Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

Outside of his family, General William S. Rosecrans had three great passions in his life:  His religion, Roman Catholicism, to which he had converted as a cadet at West Point, the Army and the Union.  In the Civil War all three passions coincided.  Rising to the rank of Major General and achieving command of the Army of the Cumberland, until he was removed in the aftermath of the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Rosecrans conducted himself in the field as if he were a Crusader knight of old.

Raised a Methodist, Rosecrans’ conversion was a life long turning point for him.  He wrote to his family with such zeal for his new-found faith that his brother Sylvester began to take instruction in the Faith.  Sylvester would convert, become a priest, and eventually be the first bishop of Columbus, Ohio.

His most precious possession was his Rosary and he said the Rosary at least once each day. In battle the Rosary would usually be in his hand as he gave commands.  He had a personal chaplain, Father Patrick Treacy, who said Mass for him each morning and would busy himself the rest of the day saying masses for the troops and helping with the wounded.  In battle he exposed himself to enemy fire ceaselessly as he rode behind the General.   Rosecrans, after military matters were taken care of, delighted in debating theology with his staff officers late into the evening.

As a general Rosecrans was in the forefront of Union commanders until his defeat at Chickamauga.  His removal from command following the battle was controversial at the time and has remained controversial, some historians seeing in it a continuation by Grant, who was placed in charge of Chattanooga following Chickamauga, of his long-standing feud with Rosecrans.  Certainly Rosecrans had already drafted the plan followed by Grant to reopen the lines of supply to the Union forces in Chickamauga.  Go here to read a spirited defense of General Rosecrans which appeared in issue 401 of The Catholic World in 1898.

Rosecrans resigned from the Army in 1867 and had a successful business career.  He served in Congress from 1881-1885.

He narrowly missed being the first Catholic president of the United States.  General James Garfield, an Ohio Republican Congressman and future president, who had served under him, telegraphed Rosecrans during the 1864 Republican Convention to see if the Democrat Rosecrans would serve as Veep on a Union ticket with Lincoln.  Rosecrans gave a cautiously positive reply but Garfield never received the telegram and the nomination went to Andrew Johnson.  Rosecrans suspected that the telegram had been intercepted by Rosecrans’ old nemesis, Secretary of War Stanton.

One hundred and fifty-one  years ago Rosecrans was fighting a huge battle at Stones River in Tennessee that would last from December 31, 1862-January 3, 1863.  He succeeded in defeating Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee and drove him from central Tennessee.  It was an important victory, a needed shot in the arm for the Union after the disaster of Fredericksburg.  Lincoln wrote to Rosecrans:

“You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

During that battle he was a man on fire, constantly charging to points of danger, heedless of risks to himself, rallying his men, inspiring them and beating off Confederate charge after Confederate charge.  Rosecrans was in the maelstrom of particularly vicious fighting when his Chief of Staff,  Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche, a fellow Catholic who had been made a Knight of Saint Sylvester by Pope Pius IX,  warned him about risking himself to enemy fire.   “Never mind me, my boy, but make the sign of the cross and go in!” A moment later, a cannon shell careened into the general’s entourage, beheading Garesche and spraying his brains all over Rosecrans’ overcoat.  Rosecrans’ mourned his friend, as he mourned all his brave men who died in that fight, but that didn’t stop him an instant from leading his army to victory.

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31 Responses to Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

  • Have just made the Sign of the Cross, under the Southern Cross, which is very bright right now in the south west sky at about 10 o’clock above the horizon. Its just coming up 1.00 am. on January 1st. 2014, and have just returned from a friends place after having a pleasant evening, and welcoming in the new year.

    May God bless all who present and visit on TAC, and may we all live in God’s grace in the coming year.
    Happy New Year everybody.

  • Happy New Year Don for you and yours!

  • A great post filling in a lot of important details from the Archives of American Catholic history!

    “Non nobis Domine! non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam.”

  • Another excellent post Don, this is rather fascinating to me because I live in the general area (the Diocese of Columbus) from which the Rosecrans family hails. General Rosecrans converted from the Methodist faith of his youth to Catholicism while teaching at West Point, which is very curious since there were few Catholics amidst many Episcopalians.

    As you indicated his brother was the first Bishop of the newly made Diocese of Columbus. Bishop Rosecrans spent much of his time directing the building of the cathedral which today stands in the heart of Columbus. In 1978 to celebrate the cathedral’s 100 year anniversary, most every 8th grade child who attended Catholic schools in the diocese were taken to Columbus for the celebration. I recall going to the “big city” was quite a big deal for us. One of the tidbits I most remember was hearing the story that Bishop Rosecrans died the very next day after consecrating St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

    Bishop Rosecrans High School is located in Zanesville about 60 miles east of Columbus on the Old National Road (Route 40 which parallels Interstate 70.) The Diocese of Columbus is not a very “Catholic area” compared to that of the Diocese of Cleveland or the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. However, Zanesville and areas south such as Somerset were Dominican outposts, St Joseph’s parish in Somerset being Ohio’s first Catholic parish.

    There is an interesting connection between General Phil Sheridan (who grew up in Somerset which has a population today of around 1,500 and not much different from 100 or even 150 years ago) and General William Tecumseh Sherman. General Sherman grew up in nearby Lancaster and both men supposedly have a connection to the original parish in Somerset, St. Joseph’s. During my time as Principal at Holy Trinity School in Somerset, I tried to get to the bottom of the old legends, but never could put everything together.

  • God’s speed. Make the sign of the cross and go in, Donald. We are all with you.

  • Don

    In July 1863 the union had three big success that settled the fate of the war. Thile Gettysburg and vicksburg were very high casulty affairs General Roscrans Tullahoma Campaign accomplished at least as much but is is seldom herad about because there was no largebattle and the resuting casulties.

    General Rosecrans’ army of the Cumberland was the second largest Union army after the Armyof the Potomic. But it had to operate over far greater distances with biger obsticles.

    More signifcant than his leadership in battle was building the army’s support structure. This not only made his operations possible bu his scessors in the theater could not have achived their succeess’s without it.

  • Outstanding role model.
    I do not doubt for one moment that Rosecrans
    is involved with spiritual help for you and your family.
    I’m also imagining that he is proud that you have chosen him as your avatar.
    Thanks for sharing him with us Don.

  • I wonder what our history would have been like with a Catholic president of presumably Jewish ancestry, particularly if he’d been more a Lincoln than a Johnson.

  • “There is an interesting connection between General Phil Sheridan (who grew up in Somerset which has a population today of around 1,500 and not much different from 100 or even 150 years ago) and General William Tecumseh Sherman. General Sherman grew up in nearby Lancaster and both men supposedly have a connection to the original parish in Somerset, St. Joseph’s. During my time as Principal at Holy Trinity School in Somerset, I tried to get to the bottom of the old legends, but never could put everything together.”

    Fascinating. Both men were friends of Rosecrans, especially Sheridan, who although he became a favorite of Grant, ever remained loyal to his former commander. All three men were Catholic. Sheridan from birth, Rosecrans a convert, and Sherman because he was raised by the Catholic Ewing family after the death of his father. Sherman married Ellen Ewing and all of his kids were raised Catholic. Although a baptized Catholic, Sherman had little use for organized, or disorganized religion, and it broke his heart when his son Tom became a Jesuit priest. Tom and his siblings made certain that Sherman was given the Last Rites on his death bed.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/09/15/father-thomas-sherman/

  • “Make the sign of the cross and go in, Donald. We are all with you.”

    Thank you Mary!

  • “General Rosecrans Tullahoma Campaign”

    Indeed Hank! It was a military masterpiece. Rosecrans’ bloodless victorious campaign was immediately, and forever, overshadowed by Vicksburg and Gettysburg. However one observer indicated later that he had noted the high generalship involved.
    “The flanking of Bragg at Shelbyville, Tullahoma and Chattanooga is the most splendid piece of strategy I know of.”, so wrote Abraham Lincoln.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2013/09/18/the-tullahoma-campaign-not-written-in-letters-of-blood/#more-48734

  • “I do not doubt for one moment that Rosecrans
    is involved with spiritual help for you and your family.”

    That had not occurred to me Philip. I certainly hope it is the case, because then my family and I will have a fighter in our corner!

  • “I wonder what our history would have been like with a Catholic president of presumably Jewish ancestry, particularly if he’d been more a Lincoln than a Johnson.”

    Generals who enter the political realm often have a rough time of it, particularly when they are as blunt and outspoken as Rosecrans. I find it hard to believe however that he would not have been more successful than Johnson, although that is a rather low bar.

  • By the way, that photo and pose, “bulldog.” His look is “all in” and it’s as if he would like to tell the photographer what to do with that eye-glass in his hand. Bulldog!

  • Pingback: Spiritual Resolutions for the New Year? - BigPulpit.com
  • If we would all just “make the sign of the cross and go in” in 2014 this world, this USA, would be a much better place for God’s glory to shine!

  • Naturally enough for a born-and-bred southerner, I have far fewer heroes on the Federal than on the Confederate side of “the War,” though Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Winfield Scott Hancock are in that select band. Thanks for introducing me to another one, whom I gladly add to that personal pantheon with hopes for his prayers.

  • What a wonderful surprise to wake up New Year’s morning, and the first thing that pops up on my computer, is this fascinating read about General Rosecrans. My family had lived at Ft. Rosecrans on Point Loma in San Diego for many years and had never learned a thing about this illustrious General. And to think, our Ohio roots are similar too. Being somewhat of a History buff, you have prompted me to dig further and re-visit my old temporary home at Fort Rosecrans, seeing it with new eyes. Thank you so very much!

  • Gen. Rosencrans’ might well have appreciated a poem entitled “God Knows” by Minnie Louise Haskins, an Englishwoman and Congregationalist, which conveys a relinquishing and giving over of one’s self to the providence of Our Lord trusting in Him to guide one on life’s journey.

    God Knows

    And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

    And he replied:

    “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

    So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

    So heart be still:
    What need our little life
    Our human life to know,
    If God hath comprehension?
    In all the dizzy strife
    Of things both high and low,
    God hideth His intention.

    God knows. His will
    Is best. The stretch of years
    Which wind ahead, so dim
    To our imperfect vision,
    Are clear to God. Our fears
    Are premature; In Him,
    All time hath full provision.

    Then rest: until
    God moves to lift the veil
    From our impatient eyes,
    When, as the sweeter features
    Of Life’s stern face we hail,
    Fair beyond all surmise
    God’s thought around His creatures
    Our mind shall fill.

    Minnie Louise Haskins (1908)

  • Great article. As a Civil War buff and now living here in Georgia where many battles took place, I learned something in reading this. Thanks!

    Mark
    http://mccatholic.com

  • “Gen. Rosencrans’ might well have appreciated a poem entitled “God Knows” by Minnie Louise Haskins, an Englishwoman and Congregationalist, which conveys a relinquishing and giving over of one’s self to the providence of Our Lord trusting in Him to guide one on life’s journey.”

    Indeed, or as GK Chesterton put it:

    “The men of the East may spell the stars,
    And times and triumphs mark,
    But the men signed of the cross of Christ
    Go gaily in the dark.

    “The men of the East may search the scrolls
    For sure fates and fame,
    But the men that drink the blood of God
    Go singing to their shame.

    “The wise men know what wicked things
    Are written on the sky,
    They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
    Hearing the heavy purple wings,
    Where the forgotten seraph kings
    Still plot how God shall die.

    “The wise men know all evil things
    Under the twisted trees,
    Where the perverse in pleasure pine
    And men are weary of green wine
    And sick of crimson seas.

    “But you and all the kind of Christ
    Are ignorant and brave,
    And you have wars you hardly win
    And souls you hardly save.”

  • “Being somewhat of a History buff, you have prompted me to dig further and re-visit my old temporary home at Fort Rosecrans, seeing it with new eyes. Thank you so very much!”

    Thank you Irene. Ah, History, our endless story in this Vale of Tears!

  • “As a Civil War buff and now living here in Georgia where many battles took place, I learned something in reading this.”

    I envy you living in a state with so many Civil War battlefields Mark. In Illinois, other than a few dust ups with copperheads, there are no battlefields from the War.

  • Thank you for this fine article which I have just discovered on your edifying website. I must mention, writing from England, that the first lines of the poem by Louise Haskins that you quote became famous in Britain during the war. The present Queen’s father, King George VI, quoted them in his Christmas broadcast to the Empire in 1939 and they became very famous. My grandmother, a good Methodist, had an inscribed copy of the words framed on her wall.

    God bless.

  • General Rosecrans, G. K Chesterton, and Minnie Louise Haskins affirm that our God given free will permits us to revel in fear and uncertainty or to place our trust in Our Lord and leap. Hopefully we will all choose to “Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In”. Happy New Year.

  • So beautiful!

  • How astonishing it is that one might wish to revel in despair!

  • Jon, you said….”How astonishing it is that one might wish to revel in despair!”

    I suppose there are some who might agree with you but Hilaire Belloc said it best…

    “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
    There’s always laughter and good red wine.
    At least I’ve always found it so.
    Benedicamus Domino!”
    ― Hilaire Belloc

September 19, 1863: Battle of Chickamauga Begins

Thursday, September 19, AD 2013

An intelligent observer of the American Civil War in early September of 1863 would have reached certain conclusions about the War thus far:

1.  The Union was losing the War in the East.  After many spectacular battles and huge casualties, the battle lines in Virginia remained much the same as they had early in the War:  the Union controlled the northern third of the Old Dominion state and the South controlled the Southern two-thirds.  A stalemate of more than two years duration favored the Confederacy.

2.  The War in the trans-Mississippi was a side show that could be ignored.

3.  In the West, between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, the Union was clearly winning, with control of the Mississippi wrested from the Confederacy, with New Orleans and large sections of Louisiana controlled by the Union, and with Tennessee largely under Union control.

4.  The northern Presidential election in 1864 would probably prove decisive.  If Lincoln could make progress in the East and continue to win in the West he would likely be re-elected.  If the Confederacy could maintain the stalemate in the East and reverse the Union momentum in the West, or at least slow it to a crawl, Lincoln would be defeated and the Confederacy would win its independence.

General Braxton Bragg, the irascible commander of the Army of Tennessee, clearly understood that the Confederacy could not continue losing in the West, and that is why he rolled the iron dice of war at Chickamauga in a desperate attempt to stop the offensive of Major General William Rosecrans and his Union Army of the Cumberland.  Bragg proved fortunate, and his hard luck army gave the Confederacy one of its great victories, and the chance to change the whole course of the War.

Below is the passage on Chickamauga from the memoir of John B. Gordon, who during the war rose from Captain to Major General in the Army of Northern Virginia.  Gordon did not fight at Chickamauga, but his wonderfully colorful account of the battle, ground he was familiar with from being reared there in his childhood,  written with his usual entertaining purple prose, captures well the facts of the battle, and how this victory was treasured by the South, even as its benefits to the Confederacy were ultimately thrown away due to a lack of pursuit and the desultory, and unsuccessful, siege of Chattanooga.

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2 Responses to September 19, 1863: Battle of Chickamauga Begins

  • I live in NY and always drempt of seeing Chickamauga. I realized my dream on Sept. 18,19,20, 2013. I was sorry to see what little coverage it got in the media, Getteysburg got massive coverage, when Chickamauga was a much much more significant battle. I watch C-SPAN all the time and was disapointed that they had no coverage. At some point I will ask them why.
    Thank you for this excellent presentation it was like being there all over again.

  • I envy you James. I have yet to get to any Civil War battlefield, although I am quite familiar with the Lincoln sites in Illinois. Perhaps in my retirement, if I ever do retire! 🙂

The Tullahoma Campaign: Not Written in Letters of Blood

Wednesday, September 18, AD 2013

Tullahoma_Campaign

I beg in behalf of this army that the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood.

Major General William Rosecrans to Secretary of War Stanton after the completion of the Tullahoma Campaign.

Mention Gettysburg and almost all Americans will recall that it was a battle fought during the Civil War.  Mention the Tullahoma campaign, and almost all Americans will give a blank stare.  A pity, because the almost bloodless campaign demonstrates one of the finest pieces of generalship to be found in the War.

After the battle of Murfreesboro in December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863, the two opposing armies seemed to go into suspended animation for a period of half a year.  Bragg withdrew his Army of Tennessee to 30 miles south of Murfreesboro at Tullahoma, Tennessee and contented himself with observing Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland and awaiting events.  Rosecrans seemed content to stay in Murfreesboro indefinitely, reinforcing and resupplying his army.  Calls to remove Rosecrans became frequent, along with frequent entreaties for Rosecrans to attack Bragg.  Rosecrans refused to move until he was ready.  On June 23, 1863 he was ready.

Here is the account of the campaign written by Union Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert C. Kniffin in 1887 for The Century Magazine and which later appeared in Battles and Leaders.  I admire both its conciseness and its accuracy:

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December 31, 1862: Battle of Stones River Begins

Monday, December 31, AD 2012

“Non nobis Domine! non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam.”

General William S. Rosecrans at the end of his report on the battle of Stones River, attributing the Union victory to God.

An unjustly obscure battle of the Civil War began 150 years ago today:  Stones River.  Based on the number of combatants involved, it was the bloodiest battle fought in an extremely bloody War.  The two armies involved, the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee, were struggling for control of middle Tennessee.  If the Confederate Army of Tennessee could be chased out of middle Tennessee, then Union control of Nashville was secure, and it could be used as a springboard for the conquest of southeastern Tennessee and the eventual invasion of Georgia.  If the Union Army of the Cumberland could be defeated, then Nashville might fall, and the Confederate heartland be secured from invasion.  The stakes were high at Stones River.  A critical factor for the Union was that morale in the North was plummeting.  The Army of the Potomac had suffered a shattering defeat a few weeks before at Fredericksburg, and Grant and his Army of the Tennessee seemed to be stymied by the Confederate fortress city of Vicksburg.  The War for the Union seemed to be going no place at immense cost in blood and treasure.  If the Army of the Cumberland led by General Rosecrans was defeated, voices raised in the North to “let the erring sisters go” might swell into a chorus that would lead eventually to a negotiated peace, especially after election losses for the Republicans in the Congressional elections already demonstrated deep dissatisfaction in the North as to the progress of the War.

General Rosecrans led the Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville the day after Christmas and marched southeast 40 miles to challenge the Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro.  The armies were comparable in size with the Army of the Cumberland having 41,000 men opposed to the 35,000 of the Army of the Tennessee.  Both Rosecrans and Bragg planned to attack the opposing army by attacking its right flank.  On December 31, Bragg struck first.

December 31, 1862 Stones River

Confederate General William J. Hardee led his corps in a slashing attack at 8:00 AM against General Alexander M. McCook’s corps, and by 10:00 AM had chased the Union troops back three miles before they rallied.  Rosecrans cancelled the attack against the Confederate right by General Thomas L. Crittenden’s corps, and rushed reinforcements to his embattled right.  Confederate General Leonidas Polk, an Episcopalian bishop in civilian life, launched simultaneous attacks against the left of McCook’s corp.  Here General Phil Sheridan’s division put up a stout resistance, but was eventually driven back.

Stones_River_Dec31_0945

By late morning the Union army had its back to Stones River and its line perpendicular on its right to its original position.  Rosecrans, who seemed to be everywhere on the battlefield that day, succeeded in rallying his troops.  The left of the Union line held against repeated assaults, the fiercest fighting centering on a four-acre wooded tract, known until the battle as the Round Forest, held by Colonel William B. Hazen’s brigade.  The ferocity of the fighting can be judged by the fact that after the battle the tract of land would ever be known as Hell’s Half Acre.  The Union forces held and by 4:30 PM. winter darkness brought an end to that day’s fighting.

Rosecrans held a council of war that night to determine if the army should stand or retreat.  General George H. Thomas who had led his corps in the center with his customary skill and determination made the laconic comment that “There is no better place to die” and Rosecrans readily agreed.  The Army of the Cumberland would stand and fight.

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William S. Rosecrans: Crusader for the Union

Sunday, December 30, AD 2012

General William S. Rosecrans

 

Outside of his family, General William S. Rosecrans had three great passions in his life:  His religion, Roman Catholicism, to which he had converted as a cadet at West Point, the Army and the Union.  In the Civil War all three passions coincided.  Rising to the rank of Major General and achieving command of the Army of the Cumberland, until he was removed in the aftermath of the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Rosecrans conducted himself in the field as if he were a Crusader knight of old.

Raised a Methodist, Rosecrans’ conversion was a life long turning point for him.  He wrote to his family with such zeal for his new-found faith that his brother Sylvester began to take instruction in the Faith.  Sylvester would convert, become a priest, and eventually be the first bishop of Columbus, Ohio.

His most precious possession was his Rosary and he said the Rosary at least once each day. In battle the Rosary would usually be in his hand as he gave commands.  He had a personal chaplain, Father Patrick Treacy, who said Mass for him each morning and would busy himself the rest of the day saying masses for the troops and helping with the wounded.  In battle he exposed himself to enemy fire ceaselessly as he rode behind the General.   Rosecrans, after military matters were taken care of, delighted in debating theology with his staff officers late into the evening.

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8 Responses to William S. Rosecrans: Crusader for the Union