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[531] base of operations; it showed, above all, that, so far from thinking of retreat, Rosecrans was preparing to resume the offensive. The Confederate commander only made this discovery on the morning of the 2d, for his cavalry, worn out by its exertions on the 31st of December, had needed the whole of the 1st to recuperate; and being, besides, under the impression that an offensive return was impossible, he had not deemed it necessary to feel the enemy except along the Nashville road. He at once determined to forestall the Federals, and to attack them so vigorously in that direction as to compel them to acknowledge themselves beaten. The hills occupied by Beatty enabled the Union artillery, once planted there, to enfilade Polk's line from across the river. It was necessary, in the first place, to recapture this position. The task was entrusted to Breckenridge, whose whole division was assembled on the right bank of Stone River and massed in an isolated wood south-east of the hills. Toward four o'clock in the afternoon, having at last completed the formation of his line, the five brigades of Breckenridge emerged from the wood, and, preceded by a swarm of skirmishers, deployed on two lines. A battery of ten guns and two thousand horse, under Wharton and Pegram, supported this movement, while at the same time Polk's artillery opened fire upon the Federal troops posted in front of it on the left bank.

Rosecrans, who just then happened to be in person in the position thus attacked, had only Beatty's two brigades with some cannon planted at a short distance to defend it against all of Breckenridge's forces. This feeble force, exposed to a well-sustained fire, and, doubtless, not yet recovered from the struggle of the two days before, gave way at the first onset; its retreat soon degenerated into a rout, and the Federals rushed down in confusion to the margin of the river, which they hastily crossed. The Confederates followed in close pursuit, while some of them, crossing over, even tried to take position on the other bank; but here they found themselves caught between two fires, Negley's, on one side, and on the other side that of Grose's brigade, which, as we have said, was placed more in the rear on the right bank, so that the first rush of the pursuers was immediately checked. Rosecrans took advantage of this to resume the offensive at once. Hazen's brigade,

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