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[366] of infantry, four companies of the Thirteenth Indiana cavalry, and a section of artillery, attacked the enemy and drove him off. During the fifth, sixth and seventh, Bate?? division, reinforced by a division from Lee?? and two thousand five hundred of Forrest's cavalry, demonstrated heavily against Fortress Rosecrans, at Murfreesboroa, garrisoned by about eight thousand men, under command of General Rousseau. The enemy showing an unwillingness to make a direct assault, General Milroy, with seven regiments of infantry, was sent out on the eighth to engage him. He was found a short distance from the place, on the Wilkerson pike, posted behind rail breastworks, was attacked and routed, our troops capturing two hundred and seven prisoners and two guns, with a loss of thirty killed and one hundred and seventy-five wounded. On the same day Buford's cavalry entered the town of Murfreesboroa, after having shelled it vigorously, but he was speedily driven out by a regiment of infantry and a section of artillery.

On retiring from before Murfreesboro, the enemy's cavalry moved northward to Lebanon and along the bank of the Cumberland in that vicinity, threatening to cross to the north side of the river and interrupt our railroad communication with Louisville, at that time our only source of supplies, the enemy having blockaded the river below Nashville by batteries along the shore. The Navy Department was requested to patrol the Cumberland above and below Nashville with the gunboats then in the river, to prevent the enemy from crossing, which was cordially and effectually complied with by Lieutenant Commanding Le Roy Fitch, commanding Eleventh division, Mississippi squadron. At the same time General Wilson sent a cavalry force to Gallatin, to guard the country in that vicinity.

The position of Hood's army around Nashville remained unchanged, and with the exception of occasional picket firing, nothing of importance occurred from the third to the fifteenth December. In the meanwhile I was preparing to take the offensive without delay; the cavalry was being remounted under the direction of General Wilson as rapidly as possible, and new transportation furnished where it was required.

During these operations in Middle Tennessee, the enemy, under Breckinridge, Duke, and Vaughn, was operating in the eastern portion of the State against Generals Ammen and Gillem. On the thirteenth November, at midnight, Breckinridge, with a force estimated at three thousand, attacked General Gillem near Morris-town, routing him and capturing his artillery, besides taking several hundred prisoners; the remainder of the command, about one thousand in number, escaped to Strawberry Plains, and thence to Knoxville. General Gillem's force consisted of fifteen hundred men, composing three regiments of Tennessee cavalry, and six guns, belonging formerly to the Fourth division of cavalry, Army of the Cumberland, but had been detached from my command at the instance of Governor Andrew Johnson, and were then operating independently under Brigadier-General Gillem. From a want of cooperation between the officers directly under my control and General Gillem may be attributed in a great measure the cause of the latter's misfortune.

Following up his success, Breckinridge continued moving southward through Strawberry Plains to the immediate vicinity of Knoxville, but on the eighteenth withdrew as rapidly as he had advanced. General Ammen's troops, reinforced by fifteen hundred men from Chattanooga, reoccupied Strawberry Plains on that day.

About this period Major-General Stoneman, left at Louisville by General Schofield to take charge of the Department of the Ohio, during his absence with the army in the field, started for Knoxville to take general direction of affairs in that section, having previously ordered Brevet Major-General Burbridge to march with all his available force in Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap to Gillem's relief. On his way through Nashville General Stoneman received instructions from me to concentrate as large a force as he could get in East Tennessee, move against Breckinridge, and either destroy his force or drive it into Virginia, and if possible destroy the salt-works at Saltville, and the railroad from the Tennessee line as far into Virginia as he could go without endangering his command. November twenty-third General Stoneman telegraphed from Knoxville that the main force of the enemy was at New Market, eight miles north of Strawberry Plains, and General Burbridge was moving on Cumberland Gap from the interior of Kentucky, his advance expecting to reach Barboursville that night. On the sixth of December, having received information from East Tennessee that Breckinridge was falling back toward Virginia, General Stoneman was again directed to pursue him, and destroy the railroad as far across the State line as possible, say twenty-five miles.

Leaving him to carry out these instructions, I will return to the position at Nashville.

Both armies were ice-bound for a week previous to the fourteenth December, whew the weather moderated. Being prepared to move, I called a meeting of the corps commanders in the afternoon of that day, and having discussed the plan of attack until thoroughly understood, the following Special Field Order, No. 342, was issued:

Paragraph IV. As soon as the state of the weather will admit of offensive operations, the troops will move against the enemy's position in the following order:

Major-General A. J. Smith, commanding detachment of the Army of the Tennessee, after forming his troops on or near the Harding pike, in front of his present position, will make a vigorous assault on the enemy's left.

Major-General Wilson, commanding the cavalry corps, Military Division of Mississippi,

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