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[361] line of railway from Nashville to Columbus through Union City passed through regions infested by guerillas. This army, therefore, which occupied the ground last conquered by the Federals on the banks of the Tennessee, only communicated with its true base of operations, the river and State of Ohio, by a single line of railway, five hundred kilometres in length, from Stevenson to Louisville; it was, besides, liable to the incursions of the Confederates, who, being masters of the Alleghanies and West Virginia, found themselves much nearer Louisville and the Northern States than Buell.

Bragg, encouraged by Lee's victories before Richmond, resolved to take advantage of the situation to strike his adversary at this weak point, and restore the Confederate flag to those States in which large numbers of partisans were ready to welcome it.

Murfreesborough, a small village of Tennessee, situated at fifty kilometres from Nashville, on the Stevenson Railroad, had become one of Buell's principal intermediate depots; it was also the headquarters of a provost-marshal, who, under pretext of pursuing guerillas, had undertaken the impossible task of arresting all the inhabitants who secretly sympathized with the enemy. The immense quantity of provisions to be captured, and the large number of prisoners to be freed, were a sufficient incentive to induce the Confederates to attempt a sudden dash against Murfreesborough, especially as this position was poorly defended. No entrenchment of any importance surrounded it; its garrison, numbering eight hundred men, consisted of two regiments, which, espousing the quarrels of their commanders, had had so many disputes among themselves that it was found necessary to send one of them, the Third Minnesota, to camp at some distance from the village; moreover, a new commander, General Crittenden, who had just arrived, had no knowledge whatever of the country. The Federals were only roused from their fatal security on the morning of the 13th of July, when they were startled out of their sleep by the tramping of two thousand horses coming at full gallop along the railway track. Some negroes had indeed told them the day before of having met the terrible Forrest and his mounted men, but no one would believe them: ‘Negro yarns!’ everybody exclaimed. It was he, nevertheless. In an instant the


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D. C. Buell (2)
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