“I think it very important for General Rosecrans
to hold his position at or about Chattanooga
, because, if held, from that place to Cleveland
, both inclusive, it keeps all Tennessee
clear of the enemy, and also breaks one of his most important railroad lines .... If he can only maintain this position, without more, this rebellion can only eke out a short and feeble existence, as an animal sometimes may with a thorn in its vitals.”
And to Rosecrans
he telegraphed directly, bidding him be of good cheer, and adding: “We shall do our utmost to assist you.”
To this end the administration took instant and energetic measures.
On the night of September 23, the President
, General Halleck
, several members of the cabinet, and leading army and railroad officials met in an improvised council at the War Department, and issued emergency orders under which two army corps from the Army of the Potomac, numbering twenty thousand men in all, with their arms and equipments ready for the field, the whole under command of General Hooker
, were transported from their camps on the Rapidan
by railway to Nashville
and the Tennessee River
in the next eight days. Burnside
, who had arrived at Knoxville
early in September, was urged by repeated messages to join Rosecrans
, and other reinforcements were already on the way from Memphis
All this help, however, was not instantly available.
Before it could arrive Rosecrans
felt obliged to draw together within the fortifications of Chattanooga
, while Bragg
quickly closed about him, and, by practically blockading Rosecrans
's river communication, placed him in a state of siege.
In a few weeks the limited supplies brought the Union
army face to face with famine.
It having become evident that Rosecrans
was incapable of extricating it from its peril, he was relieved