War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0772 KY, MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA.

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[CHAP. XXXII.

ing toward Franklin and their left toward Lebanon. Our center was at Murfreesborough, under Lieutenant-General Polk, our right at Readyville, under Major-General McCown, and our left at Triune and Eagleville.

Such was the situation of the armies when information was received on December 26, that General Rosecrans was advancing with 60,000 men from Nashville against Murfreesborough. The first demonstration was made against Triune by an advance of the enemy on the Shelbyville turnpike. Cleburne's division and Adams' brigade, under my immediate command, were posted in that vicinity. The commanding general having decided to accept battle and to defend Murfreesborough, I withdrew my command the succeeding day by his order, leaving Wood's brigade and Wharton's cavalry to skirmish with the enemy near Triune. This was done boldly and successfully, and they rejoined the command on the 28th at Murfreesborough. My corps consisted of Breckinridge's and Cleburne's divisions (each of four brigades) and Wheeler's brigade of cavalry.

Murfreesborough is situated 30 miles southeast of Nashville, in a fertile, gently undulating and highly cultivated country, in the midst of the great plain that stretches from the base of the Cumberland Mountains toward Nashville. The Chattanooga Railroad, the chief line of communication from Tennessee to the South Atlantic States, passes through it, and numerous excellent turnpike radiate from it in every direction. Stone's River flows about 2 miles west of the town, through low banks of limestone, steep, and in some places difficult to pass, and gradually trends to the north as a tributary of the Cumberland. At this time the stream could everywhere be passed without difficulty by infantry, and a the usual fords was not more than ankle-deep, but heavy rains in a few hours swell it to an impassable torrent, and it subsides as rapidly. The road to Lebanon passes nearly due north from Murfreesborough; that to Triune nearly west; that to Salem a little south of west, and the Nashville turnpike northwest, crossing Stone's River about 1 1/2 miles from Murfreesborough. The railroad, leaving the depot on the west of the town, crosses Stone's River about 200 yards above the turnpike ford. At 400 or 500 yards beyond this it intersects the Nashville turnpike at a very acute angle, running between it and the river for about 700 yards, when the stream turns to the east by a sharp bend, and then resumes its northern course. The field of battle offered no peculiar advantages for defense. The open fields beyond the town are fringed with dense cedar brakes, offering excellent shelter for approaching infantry,and are almost impervious to artillery. The country on every side is entirely open, and was accessible to the enemy.

On Sunday morning, December 28, the troops were moved into line of battle. The river separated our right from the left. By order of the commanding general, the space between the Lebanon road and the ford on the Nashville road, making the right of the army, was occupied by my corps. I arranged my troops in two lines, Breckinridge's division forming the first line and Cleburne's the second. The former was arranged with Adams' brigade resting on the Lebanon road, about 300 yards wide, which was left apparently unoccupied, but was covered by the Twentieth Tennessee and E. E. Wright's Tennessee battery, of Preston's brigade, which swept it and the field in front. The remainder of Preston's brigade rested with its right in the woods, and extended along the margin of the grove, with its left toward the river. Palmer's and Hanson's brigades completed the line, with the left of Hanson resting