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[501] Stone River is a tributary of the Cumberland; emptying into it a little above Nashville, it runs from south-east to northwest, following a parallel direction with the railroad and the Murfreesborough turnpike, which run a few kilometres from the left bank. It receives on that side the waters of two principal streams, Stewart's Creek, which we have already mentioned, and, higher up, Overall's Creek. The latter tributary lies at a distance of eight kilometres from Murfreesborough, in the direction of Nashville. After crossing it, the road and the railroad, which are only separated by some few hundred metres from each other, approach the valley watered by Stone River. They reach its borders after a course of three kilometres, follow it for a distance of four kilometres, and end by crossing each other—the turnpike passing east of the railroad; finally, crossing the river over two bridges very near each other, they reach the village of Murfreesborough, one kilometre beyond. Before passing under these bridges, Stone River runs from south to north. Above its confluence with Overall's Creek, the river is almost everywhere fordable even in winter. The ground comprised between Stone River and Overall's Creek formed the battle-field on which the two armies were about to meet. It is a slightly-rolling plateau, with a clayish soil, in which the roads are tortuous and easily broken up, and the clearings' alternate with thick and almost impenetrable copses. The chief growth of these copses is the red cedar, a species of juniper plant of pyramidal shape, the blackish foliage of which covers all the ground, which the industry of man has not yet reclaimed, with a dark and heavy verdure. Three roads traverse this plateau after crossing Overall's Creek, and converge upon Murfreesborough. The first, near Stone River, is the Nashville turnpike, a wide and straight road, the only practicable one for an army, then the bad and narrow road which at the hamlet of Wilkinson's Cross-roads branches off from that of Nashville and Shelbyville, which has already been alluded to, and, farther yet, the Franklin and Murfreesborough road, which runs directly from the west, crossing Overall's Creek near its source.

On Sunday evening, the 28th the Federal army, after having rectified its positions, found itself massed upon two roads; Mc-Cook, who continued to occupy the Nashville and Shelbyville

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