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[325] The enemy was driven from his position, through his camps, losing a battery of Parrott guns, and finally hemmed in on the river bank, where he surrendered. The contest was severe, and lasted an hour and a half. The prisoners numbered twenty-one hundred.

Late in the month of December General Rosecrans commenced his advance from Nashville upon the position of General Bragg at Murfreesburg. His movement began on December 26th by various routes, but such was the activity of our cavalry as to delay him four days in reaching the battlefield, a distance of twenty-six miles. On the 29th General Wheeler with his cavalry brigade gained the rear of Rosecrans's army, and destroyed several hundreds of wagons loaded with supplies and baggage. After clearing the road, he made the circuit of the enemy and joined our left. Their strength, as we have ascertained, was 65,000 men. The number of fighting men we had on the field on December 31st was 35,000, of which 30,000 were infantry and artillery.

Our line was formed about two miles from Murfreesboro, and stretched transversely across Stone River, which was fordable from the Lebanon pike on the right to the Franklin road on the left. As General Rosecrans made no demonstration on the 30th, General Bragg determined to begin the conflict early on the morning of the 31st by the advance of his left. The enemy was taken completely by surprise, and his right was steadily driven until his line was thrown entirely back at a right angle to his first position and near to the railroad, along which he had massed reserves. Their resistance after the first surprise was most gallant and obstinate. At night he had been forced from every position except the one on his extreme left, which rested on Stone River, and was strengthened by a concentration of artillery, and now seemed too formidable for assault.

On the next day (January 1st) the cannonading opened on the right center about 8 A. M., and after a short time subsided. The enemy had withdrawn from the advanced position occupied by his left flank; one or two short contests occurred on the 3d, but his line was unchanged. Our forces had now been in line of battle five days and nights, with little rest, as there were no reserves. Their tents had been packed in the wagons, which were four miles to the rear. The rain was continuous, and the cold severe. Intelligence was received that heavy reenforcements were coming to Rosecrans by a rapid transfer of all the troops from Kentucky, and for this and the reasons before stated General Bragg decided to fall back to Tullahoma, and the army was withdrawn in good order.

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