and Walker's brigade, of Fry's division, were concentrated at Nashville; but Mitchell's division being required to garrison Nashville, my only available force was Rousseau's and Negley's divisions, and Walker's brigade, of Fry's division, about thirteen thousand three hundred and ninety-five (13,395) effective men.
December 26.Negley's division, followed by Rousseau's division and Walker's brigade, marched by the Franklin pike to Brentwood, at that point taking the Wilson pike. Negley and Rousseau were to have encamped for the night at Owen's store. On reaching the latter place, Negley, hearing heavy firing in the direction of Nolensville, left his train with a guard to follow, and pushed forward with his troops to the support of Brigadier-General J. C. Davis' command, the advance division of McCook's corps, Davis having become hotly engaged with the enemy posted in Nolensville and in the pass through the hills south of that village. Rousseau encamped, with his division, at Owen's store, and Walker, with his brigade, at Brentwood. During the night a heavy rain fell, making the cross-road almost impassable, and it was not until the night of the twenty-seventh that Rousseau reached Nolensville with his troops and train. Negley remained at Nolensville until ten A. M. on the twenty-seventh, when, having brought his train across from Wilson's pike, he moved to the east, over an exceedingly rough by-road, to the right of Crittenden, at Stewartsboro, on the Murfreesboro pike. Walker, by my orders, retraced his steps from Brentwood and crossed over to the Nolensville pike.
December 28.Negley remained in camp at Stewartsboro, bringing his train from the rear. Rousseau reached Stewartsboro on the night of the twenty-eighth. His train arrived early next day.
December 29.Negley's division crossed Stewart's Creek, two miles south-west and above the Turnpike Bridge, and marched in support of the head and right flank of Crittenden's corps, which moved, by the Murfreesboro pike, to a point within two miles of Murfreesboro. The enemy fell back before our advance, contesting the ground obstinately with their cavalry rear-guard. Rousseau remained in camp at Stewartsboro, detaching Starkweather's brigade, with a section of artillery, to the Jefferson pike crossing of Stone River, to observe the movements of the enemy in that direction. Walker reached Stewartsboro, from the Nolensville pike about dark.
December 30.A cavalry force of the enemy, something over four hundred strong, with two pieces of artillery, attacked Starkweather about nine A. M., but were soon driven off. The enemy opened a brisk fire on Crittenden's advance, doing but little execution, however, about seven A. M. During the morning, Negley's division was obliqued to the right, and took up a position on the right of Palmer's division of Crittenden's corps, and was then advanced through a dense cedar thicket, several hundred yards in width, to the Wilkinson Cross-road, driving the enemy's skirmishers steadily, and with considerable loss. Our loss comparatively small. About noon, Sheridan's division of McCook's corps, approached by the Wilkinson Cross-road, joined Negley's right, McCook's two other divisions coming up on Sheridan's right, thus forming a continuous line, the left resting on Stone River, the right stretching in a westerly direction, and resting on high wooded ground, a short distance to the south of the Wilkinson Cross-road, and has since been ascertained, nearly parallel with the enemy's intrenchments, thrown up on the sloping land bordering on the north-west bank of Stone River. Rousseau's division (with the exception of Starkweather's brigade) being ordered up from Stewartsboro, reached the position occupied by the army about four P. M., and bivouacked on the Murfreesboro pike, in the rear of the centre. During the night of the thirtieth, I sent orders to Walker to take up a strong position near the turnpike bridge over Stewart's Creek, and defend the position against any attempts of the enemy's cavalry to destroy it. Rousseau was ordered to move by six A. M.. on the thirty-first, to a position in rear of Negley. This position placed his division with its left on the Murfreesboro pike, and its right extending into the cedar thicket, through which Negley had marched on the thirtieth. In front of Negley's position, bordering a large open field, reaching to the Murfreesboro pike, a heavy growth of timber extended in a southerly direction toward the river. Across the field, running in an easterly direction, the enemy had thrown up rifle-pits at intervals from the timber to the river bank to the east side of the turn-pike. Along this line of intrenchments, on an eminence about eight hundred yards from Negley's position, and nearly in front of his left, some cannon had been placed, affording the enemy great advantage in covering an attack on our centre. However, Palmer, Negley, and Sheridan held the position their troops had so manfully won the morning of the thirtieth, against every attempt to drive them back, and remained in line of battle during the night.
December 31.Between six and seven A. M., the enemy having massed a heavy force on McCook's right during the night of the thirtieth, attacked and drove it back, pushing his divisions in pursuit in echelon, and in .supporting distance, until he had gained sufficient ground in our rear to wheel his masses to the right, and throw them upon the right flank of the centre, at the same moment attacking Negley and Palmer in front with a greatly superior force. To counteract this movement, I had ordered Rousseau to place two brigades, with a battery, to the right and rear of Sheridan's division, facing toward the west, so as to support Sheridan, should he be able to hold his