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 But a singular coincidence, which it was impossible to foresee, frustrated all Rosecrans' plans. After remaining inactive during the whole of the 30th, and having lost the opportunity of fighting the Federals before they had been able to join their forces, Bragg had suddenly determined to take the offensive on the following day—a change of tactics which he does not explain in his report, having been governed by precisely the same inspiration that had actuated the commander of the army of the Cumberland. He resolved, like the latter, to mass all the troops he could spare on his left to crush the right of his adversary, and then to make a half conversion, so as to take the enemy's line in reverse. If Bragg had known the intentions of Rosecrans, he could not have made better dispositions; for instead of being surprised by an attack on the part of the Union troops, he found himself fully prepared to strike a blow calculated to interrupt their manoeuvre on the weakest point of their line. In the struggle which was thus about to commence with a reciprocal offensive, the Federals had the advantage of numbers. They were forty-three thousand against thirty-three thousand Confederates; but they had a much larger number of recruits in their ranks than the latter, who were nearly all experienced soldiers, schooled in the campaigns of Shiloh, Corinth and Perryville. The chances, therefore, were nearly equal on both sides, and success must fall to the party whose aggressive movement was the most important or the quickest. In this double aspect the best chances were on the side of the Confederates. On one hand, the two Federal divisions which were to make the attack did not number more than ten thousand men, whilst the forces that Bragg was preparing to hurl against the Federal right, although forming also but two divisions, amounted to nearly fifteen thousand men, with ten thousand more ready to support them. On the other hand, the Confederates were not obliged, like the Federals, to cross a river extremely difficult to ford, to approach the enemy's right. So that Rosecrans, having been the first to put himself in motion, had just barely time to push a portion of his forces to the right bank of Stone River, and not to seriously engage the battle on that side. Bragg had made every preparation for the conflict during the
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