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[516] would only tend to favor the counter-movement of the Federals. Rosecrans, therefore, merely sent an order to McCook to defend the ground entrusted to him foot by foot. Being convinced that the attack he was about to make on the left would compensate for all the checks his right could experience, Rosecrans saw nothing in this news but an additional reason for hastening the movement from which he anticipated a decisive victory. Van Cleve was already on the other side of Stone River. Wood was preparing to follow him, when the noise of the battle which was being fought on the left, and to which each person around the general-in-chief was anxiously listening, seemed to grow louder and to draw nearer. The rattling of musketry became more and more distinct and the cannon was silent, for the Federal guns were in Hardee's hands, and those of the Confederates had been unable to follow the rapid movement of their infantry; but when the few field-pieces that had escaped the disaster reopened fire, their discharges resounded ominously as far as the enclosed valley into which the Federal left wing had descended to cross the waters of Stone River. At the same moment a second despatch from McCook informed Rosecrans at last of the rout of the right wing. The Federal commander resolved at once upon what course to pursue. It was no longer a question of trying to repair the reverse of the right by a success achieved on the left, but rather to save the army, the whole of which was in jeopardy. There was not a moment to lose in order to stop the enemy, who was already threatening to cut off his communications and drive him back upon the borders of Stone River. The right wing must be succored without delay, and all the forces massed on the left wing pushed forward to oppose the victors.

The movement which Rosecrans had been urging a moment before was countermanded, and the troops who were marching northwardly, facing about, turned toward the south in the direction of the cedar wood, the density of which concealed from view the combatants engaged on the right wing. Rosecrans had brought back Van Cleve to the left side of Stone River, and sent him along with Wood's division to the point where the Nashville road crosses the rolling plain we have already mentioned, the defence of which was of paramount importance; for

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