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The separation of the wings was designed to conduct a turning movement against Hardee at Triune, but when the U. march began, Bragg moved Hardee back to Murfreesboro to avoid a confrontation.
By 4 p.m., Breckinridge's first two brigades assaulted Hazen in piecemeal attacks and suffered heavy repulses.
Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. On December 31, each army commander planned to attack his opponent's right flank, but Bragg struck first. During a visit by Confederate President Jefferson Davis on December 16, Bragg was ordered to send the infantry division of Maj. The loss of Stevenson's 7,500 men would be sorely felt in the coming battle. Bragg planned to attack the Union left, a portion of the oval line facing southeast, manned by Hazen's brigade.
John Hunt Morgan to move north with his cavalry and operate along Rosecrans's lines of communications, to prevent him from foraging for supplies north of Nashville. Van Cleve) took a route that was parallel to the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, passing through La Vergne and south of Smyrna. Thomas, in the center, was ordered to make a limited attack and act as the pivot for Crittenden's wheel. William Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland fielded approximately 43,000 men and included three infantry army corps named Right Wing, Center and Left Wing. He refused to send two brigades as reinforcements across the river to aid the main attack on the left.
While Rosecrans was preparing in Nashville, Bragg ordered Col. Mc Cook, anticipating the next day would begin with a major attack by Crittenden, planted numerous campfires in his area, hoping to deceive the Confederates as to his strength on that flank, and to disguise the fact that his flank was not anchored on an obstacle (the nearby Overall Creek). Hardee struck first, attacking the Union's right flank with the division of Maj. They had captured 28 guns and over 3,000 Union soldiers. Breckinridge, on the east side of the river, did not realize that Crittenden's early morning attack had been withdrawn.
Two more brigades arrived, and they were sent in, reinforced by other elements of Polk's corps. Thomas responded with a limited counterattack that cleared his front. Bragg's plan had had a fundamental flaw: although his objective was to cut Rosecrans's line of communication (the Nashville Pike), his attack drove the Union defenders to concentrate at that point.
Bragg's biographer, Grady Mc Whiney, observed: Unless the Union army collapsed at the first onslaught, it would be pushed back into a tighter and stronger defensive position as the battle continued, while the Confederate forces would gradually lose momentum, become disorganized, and grow weaker.
That night Rosecrans held a council of war to decide what to do.