Late that tonight while McCook was preparing his troops, Bragg called his generals, Hardee and Polk, to his headquarters to receive new orders. He had decided to seize the initiative and attack Rosecrans. Hardee was given overall tactical command during the attack, which was to begin at dawn on the 31st. Gen. Cleburne received his orders late in the afternoon of the 30th. Cleburne broke camp and began to march southward through a cold, pelting rain. He deployed his men in line of battle as best he could in the dark, after receiving guidance to his assigned position from Hardee’s staff officers. In the wet and pitch-darkness his men began removing their shoes, and many their trousers, in order to wade through the bone-chilling water of Stones River.
Like Bragg, Rosecrans's plan called for the battle to begin early on the morning of the 31st, by an advance of the army's left, wheeling to the right. Rosecrans expected to advance on Murfreesboro and get into the rear of Bragg's army, while Bragg intended to double back the Federal right across the Nashville Turnpike and cut off Rosecrans's retreat to Nashville.
Both armies await what will become the Battle of Murfreesboro, or the Battle of Stones River, which will begin tomorrow, December 31, 1862, and last through January 2, 1863.
|Eve of the Battle of Murfreesboro, Dec. 30, 1863|
Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jespersen