to destroy the railroad. Rousseau's, Negley's, and Mitchell's divisions, and Walker's brigade, of Fry's division, were concentrated at Nashville, but Mitchell's division being required to garrison Nashville, my only available force was Rousseau's and Negley's divisions, and Walker's brigade, of Fry's division, about 13,395 effective men.
December 26, Negley's division, followed by Rousseau's division and Walker's brigade, marched by the Franklin pike to Brentwood, at that point taking the Wilson pike. Negley and Rousseau were to have encamped for the night at Owen's store.
On reaching the latter place, Negley, hearing heavy firing in the direction of Nolensville, left his train with a guard, to follow, and pushed forward with his troops to the support of Brig. Gen. J. C. Davis, commanding the advanced division of McCook's corps, Davis having become hotly engaged with the enemy posted in Nolensville, and in the pass through the hills south of that village. Rousseau encamped with his division at Owen's store; Walker with his brigade at Brentwood.
During the night a very heavy rain fell, making the cross-roads almost impassable, and it was not until night of the 27th that Rousseau reached Nolensville with his troops and train. Negley remained at Nolensville until 10 a.m. on the 27th, when, having brought his train across from Wilson's pike, he moved to the east, over an exceedingly rough by-road, to the right of Crittenden, at Stewartsborough, on the Murfreesborough pike. Walker, by my orders, retraced his steps from Brentwood, and crossed over to the Nolensville pike.
December 28, Negley remained in camp at Stewartsborough, bringing his train from the rear. Rousseau reached Stewartsborough on the night of the 28th. His train arrived early next day.
December 29, Negley's division crossed Stewart's Creek, 2 miles southwest and above the turnpike bridge, and marched in support of the head and right flank of Crittenden's corps, which moved by the Murfreesborough pike to a point within 2 miles of Murfreesborough. The enemy fell back before our advance, contesting the ground obstinately with their cavalry rear guard. Rousseau remained in camp at Stewartsborough, detaching Starkweather's brigade, with a section of artillery, to the Jefferson pike crossing of Stone's River, to observe the movements of the enemy in that direction. Walker reached Stewartsborough from the Nolensville pike about dark.
December 30, a cavalry force of the enemy, something over 400 strong, with two pieces of artillery, attacked Starkweather about 9 a.m., but was soon driven off. The enemy opened a brisk fire on Crittenden's advance, doing but little execution, however, about 7 a.m.
During the morning Negley's division was obliqued to the right, and took up a position on the right of Palmer's division, of Crittenden's corps, and was then advanced through a dense cedar thicket, several hundred yards in width, to the Wilkinson Cross-Roads, driving the enemy's skirmishers steadily and with considerable loss. Our loss comparatively small.
About noon Sheridan's division, of McCook's corps, approached by the Wilkinson Cross-Roads, joined Negley's right, McCook's two other divisions coming up on Sheridan's right, thus forming a continuous line, the left resting on Stone's River, the right stretching in a westerly direction, and resting on high, wooded ground, a short distance to the south of the Wilkinson Cross-Roads, and as has since been ascertained, nearly parallel with the enemy's intrenchments thrown up on the sloping land bordering the northwest bank of Stone's River. Rousseau's division [with the exception of Starkweather's brigade], being ordered