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[270]

XIII. Rosecrans's Winter campaign.


Gen. Rosecrans, on assuming1 command of Buell's Army of the Ohio, found it seriously depleted and demoralized by the exhaustive marches and indecisive conflicts of the last six months. With a strength fully adequate to the rout and destruction of all the forces led into Kentucky by Bragg and Kirby Smith, it had see:, that State ravaged throughout by that locust horde, which had in due time recrossed the Cumberland Mountains unassailed, returning to East Tennessee as if in triumph. Of the 100,000 men formerly borne on its muster-rolls, he found, on examination, no less than 26,482 “absent by authority” --most, but not nearly all of them, doubtless, in hospitals-sick or wounded; while 6,48: more were “absent without authority” --in other words, had deserted. His effective force was thus reduced to about 65,00. men; while his cavalry was so inferior in numbers and efficiency that the troopers of Forrest and John Morgan rode around us at will, striking at posts and supply trains, and compelling enormous and constantly increasing, exhausting details to keep open our communications and preserve our army from starvation.

The railroad from Louisville to Nashville had been reopened to and across Green river; so that, though there was no considerable force of the enemy in its front — Bragg's army being still on its tedious, toilsome, circuitous retreat through East Tennessee-our army was clustered around Bowling Green, whence it could advance only so fast as the repair of its sole line of supply should be perfected. Its designation had been clanged to “Fourteenth army corps ;” the Department having been curtailed, and rechristened that of the Cumberland. It was now organized into three grand divisions: the Right, under Maj.-Gen. McCook, with Brig.-Gens. J. W. Sill, Phil. H. Sheridan, and Col. W. E. Woodruff at the head of its subordinate divisions respectively; the Center, under Maj.-Gen. Geo. II. Thomas, with its subordinate divisions led by Maj.-Gen. L. H. Rousseau, Brig.-Gens. Negley, Palmer, Dumont, and Fry; whereof Dumont and Fry were soon reliever, and Palmer transferred to the Left Wing, of which Maj.-Gen. T. L. Crittenden had command, and which consisted of the sub-divisions of Brig.-Gens. T. J. Wood, II. P. Van Cleve, and W. S. Smith. Rosecrans assigned the chief command of his dilapidated cavalry to Maj.-Gen. D. S. Stanley ; while Lt.-Col. Julius P. Garesche--an officer of rare capacity and merit — was placed at tile head of his staff, with Capt. J. St. Clair Morton as Chief Engineer, and Col. Wm. Truesdail as Chief of Army Police.

The railroad having been rendered serviceable, Rosecrans left2 Bowling Green by special train for Mitchellsville; where he took horse and proceeded to Nashville, whose garrison,

1 Oct. 30, 1862.

2 Nov. 10.

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