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[273] and constantly, taking advantage of the continually increasing roughness of the country, which is in good part heavily wooded with forests of oak and dense thickets of cedar, rendering the movement slow and by no means bloodless. McCook, with our right, rested that night at Nolensville, and the next at Triune; Crittenden, with our left, advanced the first day to Lavergne, and the next to Stewart's creek, where Rosecrans seems to have expected that the Rebels might give him battle. The third day, being Sunday, our troops mainly rested. Next morning, MeCook pressed on to Wilkinson's Cross-Roads, six miles from Murfreesboroa; while Crittenden, with Palmer's division in advance, moved on the main Murfreesboroa pike to Stone river; finding the Rebel army in position along the bluffs across that stream. Palmer, observing an apparently retrogade movement on the part of the enemy, erroneously reported to headquarters that they were retreating; and Crittenden was thereupon ordered to push across a division and occupy Murfreesboroa. Harker's brigade was accordingly Sent across — the stream being almost everywhere fordable-and drove a Rebel regiment back upon their main body in some confusion; but prisoners thus captured reporting that Breckinridge's entire corps was there present, Crittenden wisely took the responsibility of disobeying Rosecrans's order, and, favored by night-fall, withdrew Harker across the river without serious loss.

Next day1 McCook fought his way down nearly to Stone river, somewhat west of Murfreesboroa; and before night our army was nearly all in position along a line stretching irregularly from north to south, a distance of some three or four miles': Crittenden on the left, Thomas in the center, and McCook on the right-; and, at 9 P. M., the three met, by invitation, at Rosecrans's headquarters and received their orders for the morrow.

It being now certain that Bragg had deliberately chosen this as his ground whereon to stand and fight, and that he had concentrated here his forces, while his cavalry so stubbornly contested and impeded our advance, Rosecrans proposed at daylight to throw forward his left and center, crushing Breckinridge, who held the Rebel right, and then, wheeling rapidly, fall with overwhelming force in front and flank on their center, sweeping through Murfreesboroa and gaining the rear of the enemy's center and left, pushing then off their natural lire of retreat, and so cutting up and destroying their entire army. In pursuance of this plan, Van Cleve's division, on our extreme left, advanced soon after daylight; Wood's being ready to support arid follow him.

Bragg, however, had already decided to fight his own battle, and not Rosecrans's. To this end, lie had concentrated heavily on his left, where Hardee was in command, with orders to attack McCook at daylight.2 Bishop Polk, in his center, strengthened by McCown's division, was directed to second and support Hardee's attack; the two corps moving by a constant right wheel, and crushing back our routed right upon our center, seizing first the Wilkinson

1 Dec. 30.

2 Dec. 31.

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