Louisville Journal account.
Knoxville, Tenn., November 25, 1863.since it was first known to the public that Major-General Burnside would attempt the accomplishment of an object, namely, the occupation of East-Tennessee, and which would give a prestige to the Union arms heretofore unattained, if successful, and would sever the connection between the two and only great remaining armies of the Southern Confederacy, thus giving the final blow to the treasonable attempt at the disruption of our Government, all eyes have been turned in this direction. And if we are to believe,  and we cannot well doubt, the tone of the papers of the loyal States, the greatest uneasiness las been felt by the people for the safety of our army, and anxiety felt for the result of the expedition. Fear and anxiety were well founded upon the expressed opinion of some of our greatest Generals that a successful campaign into East-Tennessee was impossible. And at best, if it should by any oversight of the rebel authorities be successful in the beginning, and the Union army occupy this territory, to hold it would be impossible by reason of the inability of the Government to feed and clothe the necessary number of men to make sure the conquest, and its incapacity to furnish forage for the stock necessary for transportation, and for the cattle required to feed the men. The army of General Burnside is here, and has been for three months. During that time it been well fed and clothed, and will compare favorably in general appearance with any body of men in the service. In point of health it will show a better record than any other army in the field, for the reason that the hardships of the campaign were on the march and culled the light timber from the ranks, and has left us as hardy a set of men as ever were under arms. I am not a prophet, nor do I pretend to read the future — especially not to solve the mystery attached to military movements — but propose to give an account of the events of a few days past, which have settled the fate of East-Tennessee and the brave army that wrenched it from the rebels. Our troops evacuated Loudon the latter part of October. The Second division, Twenty-third army corps, commanded by Brigadier-General Julius White, was stationed upon the opposite banks of the river from the town. The rebels occupied Loudon and the heights around, in what force we could not learn, nor was it of great importance, as the river was to be the future base of operations, and for this reason it was, as I have learned, that General Burnside ordered the evacuation of the town. A division of the Ninth army corps occupied Lenoirs, six miles above. With this support for General White, one brigade of the Second division, Twenty-third army corps, was ordered by General Burnside to Kingston, twenty miles below, leaving near one thousand five hundred men and two batteries, which was considered ample to watch and operate against the rebel force occupying Loudon. This programme was carried out to the very letter. On the night of the thirteenth of November, at nine o'clock, General White received the first report of any considerable force of rebels near us. This was reported to him by Captain Sims, of the Twenty-fourth Indiana battery, and was immediately communicated to General Burnside, who was at Knoxville. General White ordered the field-officer of the day to visit his pickets, make observations, and learn from the pickets all he could giving reason to suppose the enemy near us. The officer reported about an hour after that the pickets had heard men on the other side of the river; the rolling of wagons or artillery, and the handling of lumber near Huff's Ferry. The lumber, it was supposed, would be used to throw a pontoon-bridge across the river at the ferry. Shortly after this, a cavalry picket reported he had heard drums beating and a band playing opposite Huff's Ferry. At the same time another picket reported the enemy building a pontoon-bridge at the ferry, and that a party had crossed in pontoon-boats. Upon receipt of this intelligence, General White sent his Adjutant-General, Captain Curtis, with a small body of cavalry to watch the enemy, and report to him by courier what occurred as fast as it transpired. This Captain Curtis did. As a prudential measure, General White ordered Colonel Chapin to send one regiment of infantry and a section of artillery to dispute the enemy's crossing. The Twenty-third Michigan and a section of Henshaw's battery started for the ferry about one o'clock A. M., November fourteenth. All the information received by General White was immediately telegraphed to General Burnside through the Lenoirs office, thus giving the commandant of that post, General Potter, all the information received at Loudon. The artillery and infantry that started to the ferry were ordered back by General White upon receipt of a telegram from General Burnside to hold his command ready to march in the direction of Knoxville at a moment's notice. The order was received and the troops took up a line of march and arrived at Lenoirs about seven o'clock A. M., November fourteenth. A description of the situation of Huff's Ferry would not be inappropriate here. It is on the Tennessee River, half a mile from Loudon, on the south bank of the river, but by a long bend in the river at that point, it is six miles by the road, on the north side. This road is the only one the troops could take to get to that point. Shortly after the arrival of General White at Lenoirs, General Burnside arrived on a train from Knoxville to command in person the movement of the troops. A countermarch to Loudon was immediately ordered. A “reliable spy” had brought information that the rebels were constructing a pontoon at Loudon, and doing nothing at Huff's Ferry. This he knew--“had seen it with his own eyes.” “Reliable spies” are infallible. The “Holy City” never had within its sacred precincts an Otho or Pius, whose high conceptions of morality taught them the invaluable worth of truth more surely than the ordeal through which they had to pass taught the loyal East-Tennesseeans, and they whose “names lead all the rest” are the “reliable spies” and “scouts.” One thousand five hundred soldiers, who had carried water from the river opposite Loudon for three weeks, and up to the time “reliable spy” had seen the bridge, and a part of them from the very spot where the bridge touched the north side of the river, and who knew there was no bridge there, and our pickets and scouts who knew the bridge was being built where and at the time “reliable spy” knew it wasn't, were certainly mistake n  They had been deceived and blinded by some mesmer-magnetic influence of some rebel wizard. But the divinity of the “reliable” confounded the work and trampled the wicked machinations of this latter-day evil spirit, and would, by his power, discover to the deliverers of East-Tennessee the operations of these wily traitors. The troops, therefore, marched back to Loudon, expecting to meet the enemy at that point. Arrived there, they found no bridge, no enemy, nothing. They immediately pushed on in the direction of Huff's Ferry, the Second brigade, Second division, Twenty-third army corps Colonel Chapin commanding, in the advance, the entire command under the personal supervision of the division commander, Brigadier-General White, General Ferrero's division, of the Ninth army corps, in the rear. When three miles from the ferry, General White met General Potter, staff, and escort returning, who stated that they had been fired on a short distance ahead by rebel pickets. At this juncture there was a “crisis” in the market for the sale of stock in “reliable spies.” It was so sudden and so unexpected to the holders, and came with such a crash, that I doubt if a revulsion in nature and the upheaving of the contents of earth would cause it to emerge from its resting-place. Spies and scouts are necessary to the successful prosecution of a war in a country to which they are native, or at least in which they are acquainted with roads and modes of egress and ingress which it is impossible for the commander to know. But how careful should they be of trusting too fully to such information, and how well know the person whom they trust, and how summary and severe should be the punishment of him who violates this confidence and trust and renders insecure the safety of an army, especially one on which so much depends as on that of the army of East-Tennessee. This man either wilfully misrepresented or his coward nature would not allow him to ascertain the facts, and reported by guess, supposing the army would move on to Knoxville, and no harm being done, the facts would never be discovered. When a short distance from where General Potter and staff had been tired upon, General White sent forward Lieutenant Lowrie, of his staff, with a small party to reconnoitre; who had advanced but a short distance when they were driven back by a strong rebel picket, a regiment being on duty. The rebels followed up the Lieutenant, and soon opened fire on Generals Potter, White, and Ferrero, their staffs and escorts. General White immediately ordered Colonel Chapin forward with his brigade, the One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio in the centre, One Hundred and Seventh Illinois on the right, and the Thirteenth Kentucky on the left, the Twenty-third Michigan supporting the artillery. Then begun the battle of Huff's Ferry. The troops moved forward at a double-quick, cheered to the work before them by their regimental commanders, and a moral influence being given to the charge by the presence of their brigade commander, Colonel Chapin, and an influence incalculable was added by the coolness in the hour of danger of their division commander, General White, who knew the odds against which his gallant brigade had to contend, and the necessity of the exposure which he made of his person upon the field, issuing his orders as the occasion demanded, frequently carrying and attending to the execution of them in person. It was such influence and such cool bravery on the part of their division commanders as I shall ever believe, that enabled this little brigade, all unused to the smell of the “villainous saltpetre,” to drive back two miles a superior force of the veterans of Longstreet, over ground which a lesser number should have held. The One Hundred and Seventh Illinois was ordered to drive the rebels from a position they had taken on a hill upon the right, while the One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio and Thirteenth Kentucky swung around to inclose the fields and woods through which the rebels must pass, and would expose them to the fire of these two regiments. The One Hundred and Seventh did its work gallantly. Divesting themselves of all superfluous weight, knapsacks, overcoats, etc., as they moved to the charge, they gained the top of the hill, and scattered the troops of Longstreet in an almost perfect rout. Once getting a taste of the fight (it being their first) and exultant with this victory, their battle-cry the balance of the day was: “Forward!” While the One Hundred and Seventh was driving the enemy in such confusion on the right, the Thirteenth Kentucky and One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio were doing their work nobly. Elated by the success of their comrades, it seemed as if they were trying to outdo their achievements. The rebels were thus beaten back two miles, when they formed on a high hill, where they were sheltered by woods, and which they supposed impregnable — aided now as they were by their artillery, which had taken position on the opposite side of the river and had opened on our men. The Second brigade was now in an open field, exposed to the rebel fire from both the positions they had taken. To clear this hill was the next work. Defended by three regiments of the famous corps, it seemed impossible. But it was to be done. The order had been issued and the men knew their General's meaning when he spoke, and were cheerful in obedience to him who had exposed himself to every danger for their good. The task devolved upon the Thirteenth Kentucky, supported by the One Hundred and Seventh Illinois. Before the charge the General rode along the lines encouraging the men to their duty. The order to charge was given. The Thirteenth Kentucky, led by their gallant young Colonel, Wm. E. Hobson, who seem ed to scorn danger and defy death in the presence of his command, moved to their mission. Fifteen minutes decided the day. The rebels were routed, but the path of the Thirteenth Kentucky was marked by their dead and wounded. In this short time sixty of that brave regiment lay dead or wounded upon the field of their glory. Night had now come on and the fighting ceased, except  an occasional shell from the rebel battery continued till nine o'clock, when all was quiet. The enemy's loss in this fight could not be ascertained, as he carried off a number of his killed and wounded, and the extreme darkness of the night prevented an examination of the field. In this fight the Ninth army corps was held in reserve, and was not engaged. At daylight the next morning the troops took up the line of march to Lenoirs. The duty of rearguard was assigned to the Second brigade of General White's division. The One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio and one section of Henshaw's battery were detailed to the extreme rear to cover the advanced troops. The roads had been rendered almost impassable by rains the day before, and it was with difficulty the artillery could be got up the hill where the fight began. It was all got up except one caisson, when the enemy, who had advanced in considerable force under cover of the woods and the crest of the hill, attacked the One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio from three points. The position would not warrant a general engagement, and the caisson had to be abandoned. A smart skirmish ensued, however, as the One Hundred and Eleventh fought its way to the top of the hill, where it formed, and a few well-directed volleys from their guns, and a few rounds of canister from the section of artillery, soon checked the enemy, and the march was resumed toward Lenoirs, where we arrived early in the afternoon. In this skirmish the One Hundred and Eleventh lost twenty men killed and wounded. About four o'clock P. M., after arriving at Lenoirs, it was discovered that the main if not the entire rebel force had advanced and taken position to give us battle, and our troops were formed to resist the attack if made. They made no demonstration that evening. Our troops remained in line till nearly daylight, when an order was received to march in the direction of Knoxville, which was immediately obeyed. On this retreat the Second division Twenty-third army corps lost its transportation and ammunition train, and all its property, public and private, which could not be hurriedly taken away. The officers, division, brigade, and regimental, lost all their private property. This was done by order of Major-General Burnside, that the draft animals might be used to move the artillery; the state of the roads being such that it was impossible to move it otherwise. The rebels received no benefit from this abandonment of property, as every thing was destroyed. Marching in the direction of Knoxville, we were overtaken by the enemy at Campbell's Station at twelve o'clock M., November sixteenth, and the battle of Campbell's Station commenced. One brigade of the Ninth corps was in the advance, the Second brigade of the Twenty-third corps in the centre, and one brigade of the Ninth corps as rear-guard. The skirmishing was begun by the Ninth corps, the First brigade of the Ninth corps forming in the rear of General White's command, which formed in line to protect the stock, etc., as it passed to the rear, and to cover the retreat of the Ninth corps, which was the rear-guard and was to file past it. Again was the Second brigade in position where it must receive the first shock of battle, and must win more or lose the honors already won. The arrangements for battle had hardly been completed before the cavalry came in from the front followed by the infantry of the Ninth corps, and two heavy lines of the enemy emerged from the wood three quarters of a mile in front. Each line consisted of a division, and were dressed almost wholly in the United States uniform, which at first deceived us. Their first line advanced to within eight hundred yards of General White's front before that officer gave the order to fire. Henshaw's and the Twenty-fourth Indiana batteries then opened on them with shell, but they moved steadily forward, closing up as their lines would be broken by this terrible fire, until within three hundred and fifty yards of our main line, when the batteries mentioned opened on them with canister, and four batteries in the rear, and right and left of General White, opened on their rear line with shell. This was more than they could stand. Their front line broke, and ran back some distance, where they re-formed and deployed right and left, and engaged the Thirteenth Kentucky and Twenty-third Michigan on the right, and the One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio and One Hundred and Seventh Illinois on the left, which were supported by General Ferero's command of the Ninth corps. This unequal contest went on for an hour and a half. The only advantage over them, so far, was in artillery, they not having any in position yet. It seemed to be their object to crush the inferior force opposing them with their heavy force of infantry. The men were too stubborn. They would not yield an inch, but frequently drove the rebels from their position and held the ground. Finding they could not move them with the force already employed, the rebels moved forward another line of infantry, heavy as either of the first two, and placed in position three batteries. Their guns were heavier and of longer range than those of the Second brigade, and were situated to command General White's position, while his guns could not answer their fire. They got the range of these guns at once, and killed and wounded several gunners and disabled several horses, when General White ordered them back to the position occupied by those in the rear, the infantry holding their position covered by the artillery on the hill. An artillery fight then began, which continued nearly two hours, till it was growing dark, and the order was given for our troops to fall back to resume the march to Knoxville. The management of the troops as they moved from the field of battle was a picture of skill and generalship. The Ninth corps moved off first, devolving the duty of protecting the rear upon the troops of General White. They were hotly pursued by the enemy, who hoped to break the retreat into a rout. But not a man quickened his pace, and their lines, dressed as when marching in review, gave evidence of the utter disregard  of personal safety to save the honor of three days fighting and toil. The enemy made use of every advantage he thought he could gain, but not a move did he make that escaped the quick glance of the division or brigade commander, who would face about or change his front as the occasion required, delivering a few volleys so well directed as to check and drive back the enemy utterly discomfited. For two miles this military game was played with such success by the Second brigade as to cause the rebel chief to draw off, virtually acknowledging himself checkmated at the game he begun and seemed anxious to play. This retreat over that field was a sight so grand and beautiful in its management that it attracted the attention of every officer and man who could leave his command to witness it. The heights in front and on the rear were filled with persons of high and low rank, almost grown boisterous with pleasurable excitement as each move of the troops of General White showed them the discomfited enemy falling back to assume a new offensive movement, and to meet the same fate as before. General Burnside, who witnessed its management, pronounced it a masterly effort against such numbers. Night coming on and the enemy growing less troublesome, Colonel Chapin, commanding the brigade, who had been unwell for a number of days but had refused to leave the field while the enemy was in the front, was now suffering so that he was ordered to quit his post, and the command devolved upon Colonel W. E. Hobson, of the Thirteenth Kentucky, who led the men from the field and conducted the retreat to Knoxville. To mention the names of the brave men, officers and privates, who did deeds deserving of record, would be to name every man engaged. Not one flinched from the work before him. The historian of the war will find a goodly part of the material for his work here, and do credit to this band of heroes. Having been a witness of all that occurred during the time of which I have written, I feel justified in mentioning a few names that came forth covered with a halo of glory. Of General Burnside I shall say nothing. The country knows him, and he is a subject too grand for my pen. Of the General commanding the Second division, Twenty-third army corps, Brigadier-General White, I cannot say enough to do him justice. He was everywhere present during the fights, scorning to refuse to share the danger his men were exposed to, and endured cheerfully the hardships of the entire march. The “watchful General” he may well be called. Not a minute did he quit his post or take his eye off the enemy, from the time he received the news of his being at Huff's Ferry until his arrival here; but watching every movement they made, acted as his good judgment suggested when thrown upon his own resources, and always with success. He communicated to his chief at Knoxville all the information he received, and obeyed implicitly every order he obtained from that quarter. Among the Generals here is one at least “sans peur et sans reproche.” To the members of his staff the report of General White will, I presume, do justice. Their names only are necessary here: Captains Henry Curtis, Jr., F. G. Hentig, James A. Lee, Lieutenants Lowrie and Edmiston. They were with the General always except when upon duty. Of Colonel Chapin, commanding the Second brigade of Second division, Twenty-third army corps, I need not add to what I have said. His excellent management of the troops upon three fields, and his personal bravery, have attached him to his men as few commanders are attached. His staff, Captains Gallup and Sheldon and Lieutenant Pearson, are worthy followers of their brave leader. Colonel W. E. Hobson, of the Thirteenth Kentucky, upon whom the command of the brigade at times devolved, behaved always as became the hero of Huff's Ferry. Lieutenant-Colonel Lowry, of the One Hundred and Seventh Illinois; Major Sherwood, of the One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio; and Major Wheeler, of the Twentythird Michigan, each commanding, all carried themselves nobly. I must mention the name of ex-Colonel Joseph J. Kelly, of the One Hundred and Seventh Illinois, whose resignation had just been accepted, and who intended to start for his home in Illinois the day of the fight at Huff's Ferry, but would not leave while the regiment he had so long commanded was in the face of the enemy. He was with them all the time, urging them to the performance of their duty and to victory, and still remains, as he says, to “see it through.” The Ninth army corps was engaged only in the battle of Campbell's Station, and there sustained the honor of their past history. The troops arrived at Knoxville at daylight November seventeenth, from which time dates the siege of the place, of which