|Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1863, from Harper's Weekly|
Leading in every direction from the town were numerous turnpikes. Stones River—named after an early settler—was formed there where the middle and south branches of the stream united, and flowed north between low steep banks of limestone, difficult to cross, and emptied into the Cumberland River. At the time of the battle the stream was so low that it could be crossed by infantry everywhere. The Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad crossed the river about 200 yards above the turnpike bridge. 500 yards beyond, the railroad intersected the Nashville Turnpike at a sharp angle, then ran 800 yards between the pike and the river, at which point the stream turns abruptly to the east and passes to the north.
At the time, open fields surrounded the town, fringed with dense cedar-brakes. These brakes provided excellent cover for approaching infantry, but were almost impervious to artillery due to their density. They would prove to be a significant obstacle in the coming conflict.
|Battle of Murfreesboro, Dec. 30, 1863|
Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jespersen
Bragg placed Breckinridge's Division on his extreme right, across Stones River, to protect that flank and cover the town. Adams's brigade rested on the Lebanon road, about a mile and a half from town. Breckinridge's Division formed the first line, facing north, and was posted in the edge of the forest. To the left of Adams the line was broken by a field about 300 yards in width, which apparently was left unoccupied; but it and the fields in front were covered by the 20th Tennessee and Wright's Battery. Preston's Brigade rested with its right in the woods, and extended along the edge with its left toward the river. On the left of Preston, Palmer's Brigade was formed, and on his left Hanson's completed that portion of the line, including a hill about 600 yards in front of his center. Jackson's Brigade was placed on the east side of the Lebanon road, in front and the right of Adams's men. On the other side of the river the right of Withers's Division rested at the bank, near the intersection of the turnpike with the railroad, in front and to the right of Hanson's. It extended south across the Wilkinson Pike to the Triune-Franklin road. In the rear of Withers's Division, Cheatham's was posted as a supporting force. McCown's Division, also under Hardee's commanded, was placed on Wither's left. Cleburne's Division was placed on the left, 500 yards to rear as support for that division.