MURFREESBOROUGH, TENN., January 3, 1863.
On December 26 we moved from Nashville in three columns. McCook's corps by Nolensville pike; Thomas' from its encampment on Franklin pike, via Wilson pike; Crittenden's on main Murfreesborough pike. the left and center met with a strong resistance, such as the nature of the country permits-rolling or hilly routes, skirted by cedar thickets, farms, and intersected by small streams, with rocky bluff banks, forming serious obstacles. McCook drove Hardee's corps 1 1/2 miles from Nolensville, and occupied the place. Crittenden reached within 1 1/2 miles of La Vergne. Thomas reached the Wilson pike, meeting with no serious opposition. On the 27th, McCook drove Hardee from Nolensville, and pushed reconnoitering division 6 miles toward Shelbyville, and found Hardee had retreated toward Murfreesborough. Crittenden fought and drove the enemy before him, occupying the line of Stewart's Creek, capturing some prisoners, with slight loss. Thomas occupied the vicinity of Nolensville. On the 28th, McCook, completed his reconnaissance on Hardee's movements. Crittenden remained, awaiting the result and bringing up trains. Thomas moved on to Stewart's Creek. On the 29th, McCook moved into Wilkinson's Cross-roads, 7 miles from Murfreesborough, the end of a short pike, the road rough, through rolling country, skirted by bluffs, covered with dense cedar thickets, tops open timber. Crittenden pushed the enemy rapidly, saved all the bridges, and reached a point within 3 miles of Murfreesborough, his advance driving all their outposts to within sight of town. Thomas, with two divisions, closed up with Crittenden, and took position on the right. On the 30th, McCook advanced on Wilkinson pike, having to make his way through dense woods, meeting with a determined resistance. Got into position 3 miles from Murfreesborough, occupying the extreme right of our line. The left stood fast; the center advanced slightly, and were engaged in cutting roads through an almost impenetrable growth of cedars, which separated them from our right, rendering communication with them exceedingly difficult. The combat and the roughness of the country had brought forward McCook's right division, so as to face strongly to the southwest, instead of being refused to face south, with the reserve division, between the center and right, and sufficiently from the rear to support, and, if necessary, to extend it, the grave consequence of which were developed the next day. The 31st found our left crossing Murfreesborough pike and railroad, one division front, one forming crotchet on Stone's River, and one is reserve. Center, Negley between left and right; Rousseau in reserve. The plan of the battle was to open on the right and engage enemy sufficiently to hold him firmly, and to cross the river with our left, consisting of three divisions, to oppose which they had but two divisions, the country being favorable to an attack from that part of the town. But the enemy attacked the whole front of our right wing, massing his force on its right flank, which was partially surprised, thrown into confusion, and driven back. Sheridan's division repulsed the enemy four times, protected the flanks of the center, which not only held its own, but advanced until this untoward event compelled me to retain the left wing to support the right, until it should be rallied and assume a new position. [January] 1, the rebels opened by an attack on us, and were again repulsed. On the 2nd, skirmishing along the front, with warm threats of attack, until about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Evening, advanced one small division thrown across Stone's River, to occupy commanding ground. While reconnoitering the ground occupied by this division, which had no artillery, I saw heavy forces emerg-