HRISTMAS day of 1862 found the two armies of Bragg
quietly settled in their cantonments.
But both sides were preparing for the struggle.
The Union general was at last in a condition to resume the offensive.
The railroad, which had been reopened for a month past, had enabled him to collect, both in Nashville
and in his camps, the materiel
and provisions required for a campaign which the season would render very severe.
He wanted for nothing in the matter of food, arms and wagons.
His artillery had its full complement, and his cavalry was well mounted; the young soldiers of which the cavalry was composed were beginning to learn their business, under the direction of the indefatigable Stanley
, and it was in a condition to render him the services he expected from it. The numerous recruits who filled up the ranks of his infantry had also been drilled, and the new regiments had been, as far as possible, brigaded with soldiers already broken in to war. His army numbered forty-six thousand combatants, comprising forty-one thousand four hundred and twenty-one infantry, two thousand two hundred and twenty-three artillerists with one hundred and fifty guns, and three thousand two hundred and sixty-six cavalry.
It was divided, as we have said, into three corps, under Crittenden
On the morning of December 26th, which was cold and rainy, this army emerged at last from its inaction.
In forcing this apparent inaction upon it, Rosecrans
had not only given it time to recover strength, but he had drawn Bragg
toward him, and was now able to attack him without exposing his army to the immense difficulties it would have had to encounter in a long wintermarch beyond Nashville
In order to be able to advance as far as Chattanooga
in the spring, it was necessary to fight the enemy's