The run-up to New Year's Day 1863 brings no pause in the fighting 150 years ago in the Civil War. On Dec. 26, 1862, Union divisions approaching from the Yazoo River crash into Confederate forces in swampy terrain as they undertake an audacious bid to seize the rebel-held city of Vicksburg, Miss. The fierce battle of Chickasaw Bayou, or Walnut Hills, erupts. When Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman orders his forces to advance, his units are thrust backward by the Confederate defenders. Sherman was hopeful of capturing Vicksburg outright, but the battle leaves heavy Union casualties and dashes any Union hopes of a swift victory.
The fighting, however, marks the start of the Vicksburg campaign, which would be renewed by the Union months later in 1863. The New Year would be only hours old when more fighting erupts, this time at Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tenn. Confederates under Gen. Braxton Bragg camp Dec. 29, 1862, not far from Union forces, and combat opens late on Jan. 1, 1863. Union fighters repulse at least one Confederate attack before the rebel forces withdraw in early January from the area near Murfreesboro.