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At one o’clock in the afternoon of January 2, 1863, the battle of Murfreesboro was in its third day. The Federal Army had massed fifty-seven field artillery pieces on a hill on the west bank of Stone River, roughly opposite the position occupied by the Orphans and separated by 500 yards of open ground. General Bragg, the Commander of the Confederate forces, unaware of the Federal artillery, ordered General Breckinridge to advance his division to capture the hill. General Breckinridge argued strongly against such an attack.
At four o’clock the attack began with 1,852 Orphans, moving out of their wooded area and across the 500 yards of open ground. With the Confederates exposed, the massed Union artillery on the opposite bank opened fire. The sixth Kentucky regiment led by Captain Charles B. McClaskey and 1st Lt. Frank Harned was the only unit to reach the river. The attack lasted barely an hour, with 431 of the 1,852 Orphans either dead, wounded, or missing in action. The Orphan Brigade Commander, General Roger Hanson was among the first to be killed. General Breckinridge, surveying the damage with tears in his eyes cried out “My poor Orphans”.