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[509] since daylight in crossing the fords of Stone River, situated below the position occupied by Wood; the latter was to cross the river in front of the locality where he was stationed as soon as Van Cleve had reached the other side; Palmer and Negley had placed all their troops under arms; Rousseau held himself in reserve along the turnpike, ready to support either the centre or the left wing of the army. Rosecrans superintended in person the crossing of the troops at the head of which he was preparing to carry out the most important part of his plan. He saw the moment approaching, when he could throw himself, with a vastly superior force, upon the isolated division which Bragg had left on that side. But at this juncture the sound of sharp musketry burst forth on the extreme right. Could Bragg have guessed the movement by which he was menaced, and was he endeavoring to forestall it? or was it only one of those encounters between pickets, such as the army had daily witnessed during the last week, in which a great deal of powder was burnt without much damage being done to either side? However that might be, there was nothing to be done but to attack Breckenridge without delay, for McCook had promised to defend himself alone for the space of three hours, and it would not require more time to secure some decisive advantage on the left.

Let us, therefore, leave Rosecrans on the margin of Stone River, and transfer ourselves to the other extremity of his line, where the battle had commenced, and where the Confederates, by taking the initiative, had secured an advantage which they would retain for nearly the whole day. The slightest inequalities in the ground between the Franklin road and the Nashville causeway played so important a part in this sanguinary struggle, that we must here find room for a detailed description of its configuration. From the bridges of Overall's Creek to those of Stone River, near Murfreesborough, the two straight lines formed by the railroad and the Nashville causeway are seven kilometres in length, and intersect each other at a distance of seventeen hundred metres from the last-mentioned bridges, at an angle of from six to seven degrees. Proceeding from west to east, we at first encounter some clearings lying fallow; then, at two kilometres from Overall's, a patch of woodland extending for a distance of fifteen hundred

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