With Thomas' two divisions at Nolensville, McCook was to attack Hardee at Triune, and, if the enemy re-enforced Hardee, Thomas was to support McCook. If McCook beat Hardee, or Hardee retreated, and the enemy met us at Stewart's Creek, 5 miles south of La Vergne, Crittenden was to attack him, Thomas was to come in on his left flank, and McCook, after detaching a division to pursue or observe Hardee, if retreating south, was to move with the remainder of his force on their rear.
The movement began on the morning of December 26. McCook advanced on the Nolensville pike, skirmishing his way all day, meeting with stiff resistance from cavalry and artillery, and closing the day by a brisk fight, which gave him possession of Nolensville and the hills 1 1/2 miles in front, capturing one gun by the One hundred and first Ohio and Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiments, his loss this day being about 75 killed and wounded. Thomas followed on the right, and closed Negley's division on Nolensville, leaving the other (Rousseau's) division on the right flank.
Crittenden advanced to La Vergne, skirmishing heavily on his front, over a rough country, intersected by forest and cedar brakes, with but slight loss.
On the 28th [27th] General McCook advanced on Triune, but his movement was retarded by a dense fog.
Crittenden had orders to delay his movements until McCook had reached Triune and developed the intentions of the enemy at that point, so that it could be determined which Thomas was to support.
McCook arrived at Triune, and reported that Hardee had retreated, and that he had sent a division in pursuit.
Crittenden began his advance about 11 a.m., driving before him a brigade of cavalry, supported by Maney's brigade rebel infantry, and reached Stewart's Creek, the Third Kentucky gallantly charging the rear guard of the enemy, and saving the bridge, on which had been placed a pile of rails that had been set on fire. This was Saturday night.
McCook having settled the fact of Hardee's retreat, Thomas moved Negley's division on to join Crittenden at Stewart's Creek, and moved Rousseau's to Nolensville.
On Sunday the troops rested, expect Rousseau's division, which was ordered to move on to Stewartson, and Willich's brigade, which had pursued Hardee as far as Riggs' Cross-Roads, and had determined the fact that Hardee had gone to Murfreesborough, when they returned to Triune.
On Monday morning, McCook was ordered to move from Triune to Wilkinson's Cross-Roads, 6 miles from Murfreesborough, leaving a brigade at Triune. Crittenden crossed Stewart's Creek by the Smyrna Bridge and the main Murfreesborough pike, and Negley by the ford 2 miles above; their whole force to advance on Murfreesborough, distant about 11 miles. Rousseau was to remain at Stewart's Creek until his train came up, and prepare himself to follow. McCook reached Wilkinson's Cross-Roads by evening, with an advance brigade at Overall's Creek, saving and holding the bridge, meeting with but little resistance. Crittenden's corps advanced, Palmer leading, on the Murfreesborough pike, followed by Negley, of Thomas' corps, to within 3 miles of Murfreesborough, having had several brisk skirmishes, driving the enemy rapidly, saving two bridges on the route, and forcing the enemy back to his intrenchments.
About 3 p.m. a signal message coming from the front, from General Palmer, that he was in sight of Murfreesborough, and that the enemy