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[512] the Federal army thus extended for more than five kilometres, along which communications were rather difficult.

The movement of Bragg's left wing had commenced at the same time as that of the Federals on Stone River; but McNair's brigade having failed to take the place during the night which Hardee had assigned to it in the front line on the right of McCown's division, the attack was not made until after seven o'clock in the morning. McCown, crossing over to the left of the Franklin road, deployed in the fields for the purpose of flanking the extremity of Johnson's positions; Cleburne followed him close on the road. The Federals were not expecting such an attack, but the open country which lay before them enabled them to perceive, at a distance of about eight hundred metres, the compact lines of the enemy advancing silently and resolutely toward them. The soldiers were in their tents, the officers scattered; General Willich was with his chief, McCook, and the artillery horses had been taken out to water. All hastened to get under arms; each regiment assembled in front of its camp without waiting for orders, and the line of battle was formed at random. The Federal troops had scarcely taken position when the three brigades of McCown's division, Rains on the left, Ector in the centre, McNair on the right, opened a terrific fire upon them. The fighting was carried on at a short distance and without shelter; every shot told. The Confederates advanced at every new discharge. The Federal artillery, posted near the road, ploughed their ranks in vain; they pressed forward, and finally reached Johnson's line, the positions of which he was trying in vain to rectify. The two forces were for a moment mingled, and fought hand to hand amid a musketry-fire which struck friends and foes alike. Johnson's soldiers held their ground, for they had already passed through many murderous struggles; but they could not long withstand the impetuous rush and the numerical superiority of the assailants. Their line was pierced in many places; the guns, deprived of horses, fell into the hands of the Confederates; regiments fought in small groups without any connection between them. Willich, who had hastened up on hearing the fire of musketry, was made prisoner, and his brigade routed; Kirk's brigade, which was still resisting, saw its flank thus uncovered, and was subjected

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