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PREPARING FOR BATTLE AT STONE RIVER.
and constantly, taking advantage of fore night our army was nearly all in the continually increasing roughness position along a line stretching irof the country, which is in good part regularly from north to south, a disheavily wooded with forests of oak tance of some three or four miles : and dense thickets of cedar, render-Crittenden on the left, Thomas in the ing the movement slow and by no center, and McCook on the right; means bloodless. McCook, with our and, at 9 P. M., the three met, by inright, rested that night at Nolens- vitation, at Rosecrans's headquarters, ville, and the next at Triune; Crit- and received their orders for the tenden, with our left, advanced the morrow. first day to Lavergne, and the next It being now certain that Bragg to Stewart's creek, where Rosecrans had deliberately chosen this as his seems to have expected that the ground whereon to stand and fight, Rebels might give him battle. The and that he had concentrated here third day, being Sunday, our troops his forces, while his cavalry so stubmainly rested. Next morning, MC-bornly contested and impeded our Cook pressed on to Wilkinson's advance, Rosecrans proposed at dayCross-Roads, six miles from Mur- light to throw forward his left and. freesboro'; while Crittenden, with center, crushing Breckinridge, who Palmer's division in advance, moved held the Rebel right, and then, wheelon the main Murfreesboro' pike to ing rapidly, fall with overwhelmSTONE River; finding the Rebel army ing force in front and flank on their in position along the bluffs across that center, sweeping through Murfreesstream. Palmer, observing an ap- boro' and gaining the rear of the parently retrogade movement on the enemy's center and left, pushing part of the enemy, erroneously re- them off their natural line of retreat, ported to headquarters that they and so cutting up and destroying were retreating; and Crittenden was their entire army. In pursuance of thereupon ordered to push across a this plan, Van Cleve's division, on division and occupy. Murfreesboro'. our extreme left, advanced soon after Harker's brigade was accordingly daylight ; Wood’s being ready to supsent across—the stream being almost port and follow him. everywhere fordable—and drove a Bragg, however, had already deRebel regiment back upon their cided to fight his own battle, and main body in some confusion; but not Rosecrans's. To this end, he had prisoners thus captured reporting concentrated heavily on his left, that Breckinridge's entire corps was where Hardee was in command, there present, Crittenden wisely took with orders to attack McCook at the responsibility of disobeying Rose- daylight." Bishop Polk, in his center, crans's order, and, favored by night strengthened by McCown's division, fall, withdrew Harker across the river was directed to second and support without serious loss.
Hardee's attack; the two corps movNext day," McCook fought his way ing by a constant right wheel, and down nearly to Stone river, some- crushing back our routed right upon what west of Murfreesboro’; and be our center, seizing first the Wilkin
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11 Dec. 31.
son and then the Nashville turnpike; attacks on their front, when the disinterposing between our army and appearance of Johnson's division enits supply-trains, whenever they abled the Rebels to come in on their should have flanked our right and flank, compelling them also to give rained our rear.
ground; and, though repeated efforts According to Rosecrans's plan, were made by Davis and his suborMcCook, however strongly assailed, dinates to bring their men again up was to hold his position for three to the work, their fighting did not hours, receding—if attacked in over- amount to much thereafter. whelming force-very slowly, and Sheridan's division fought longer fighting desperately; which he had and better; but of his brigade comundertaken to do. But there was manders, Gen. J. W. Sill was killed a serious mistake in the calcula- early in the day, while leading a suction. Before 7 A. M., Hardee's corps cessful charge, and Cols. Roberts and burst from the thickets in McCook's Shaeffer at later periods--each falling front and on his right; Cleburne's dead at the head of his brigade, while four brigades charging vehemently charging or being charged. This its extreme right, Cheatham’s and division fought well throughout; but McCown's divisions striking it more was pushed back nearly or quite to directly in front, hurling back our the Nashville turnpike, with the skirmishers at once on our lines, and loss of Houghtaling's and a section crumbling these into a fleeing mob of Bush's battery. within a few minutes. Of the two By 11 A. m., the day was appabrigade commanders in Johnson's rently lost. McCook's corps a full division, holding our extreme right, third of our army-was practically Gen. Kirk was severely wounded at demolished, and the Rebel cavalry the first fire; while Gen. Willich had in our rear working its wicked will his horse killed and was himself cap- upon our supply trains and strag. tured. So sudden and unexpected glers. Nearly half the ground held was the attack, that a portion of our by our army at daylight had been battery horses had been unhitched won by the triumphant enemy, who from the guns and sent off to drink, had now several batteries in position, a few minutes before. The guns, of playing upon our center, where Negcourse, were lost.
ley's division of Thomas's corps was McCook attempted to rëform in desperately engaged, with its ammuthe woods behind his first position; nition nearly expended, its artillery but his right was too thoroughly horses disabled, and a heavy Rebel routed, and was chased rapidly back column pushing in between it and toward our center. A large part what was left of McCook's corps, of this (Johnson's) division was with intent to surround and capture gathered up as prisoners by the Rebel it. This compelled Negley to recavalry; the rest was of little account coil; when Gen. Rousseau, pushing during the remainder of the fight. up his reserve division to the front, .
McCook's remaining divisions, sent Maj. Ring's battalion of regulars under Jeff. C. Davis and Sheri- to Negley's assistance. The regulars dan, had repulsed several resolute made a most gallant and effective