Edward G. Longacre, "Rosecrans, William Starke," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00676.html.
Rosecrans tested his revival program in late December, when he belatedly heeded War Department orders to challenge General Braxton Bragg's army in Middle Tennessee. On the last day of the year Rosecrans moved to strike Bragg's right flank across Stones River, near Murfreesboro, only to find his own right under attack. Refusing to panic, Rosecrans recalled his assault column and shored up his embattled flank. Despite teetering on the brink of defeat throughout the day, the Army of the Cumberland held on; two days later it survived a heavy assault against its left, forcing Bragg to abandon his strategic position. The victory made Rosecrans the most celebrated commander in the Union. He received the thanks of Congress, a brevet major generalship in the regular army, and highly placed offers of support should he seek political office. Abraham Lincoln personally thanked him for salvaging a victory, when "had there been a defeat instead, the Nation could scarcely have lived over."