previous next

[204] rapidly north toward London, twenty-six miles distant.

About eleven A. M., the cavalry passed to the head of the column, and was ordered to push to Loudon, and, if possible, save the pontoon-bridge across the Tennessee, held by a brigade of the enemy, commanded by General Vaughn. The cavalry moved with such rapidity as to capture every picket; but the brigade of Vaughn had artillery in position, covered with earthworks, and displayed a force too respectable to be carried by a cavalry dash, and darkness closed in before General Howard's infantry got in.

The enemy abandoned that place in the night, destroying the pontoons, running three locomotives and forty-eight cars into the Tennessee, and abandoning a large quantity of provisions, four guns, and other material, which General Howard took at daylight.

But the bridge was gone, and we were forced to turn cast, and trust to General Burnside's bridge at Knoxville.

It was all-important that General Burnside should have notice of our coming, and but one day of the time remained.

Accordingly, at Philadelphia, during the night of December second, I sent my Aid, Captain Audenreid, forward to Colonel Long, commanding the brigade of cavalry, to explain to him how all-important it was that General Burnside should have notice within twenty-four hours of our approach, and ordering him to select the best material of his command to start at once, ford the Little Tennessee, and push into Knoxville at whatever cost of life and horseflesh.

Captain Audenreid was ordered to go along. The distance to be travelled was about forty miles, and the roads villainous. Before day they were off, and at daylight the Fifteenth corps was turned from Philadelphia to the Little Tennessee at Morgantown, where my maps represented the river as very shallow, but it found too deep for fording, and the water freezing cold — width two hundred and forty yards, depth from two to five feet. Horses could ford, but artillerymen could not. A bridge was indispensable. General Wilson, who accompanied me, undertook to superintend the bridge, and I am under many obligations to him, as I was without an engineer, having sent Captain Jenny back to Greysville to survey the field of battle. We had our pioneers, but only such tools as axes, picks, and spades; but General Wilson, working part with crib-work and part with trestles, made of the houses of the late town of Morgantown, progressed apace, and by dark of December fourth troops and animals passed on the bridge, and by daylight of the fifth the Fifteenth corps, General Blair, was over, and General Granger's corps and General Davis's division were ready to pass; but the diagonal bracings were imperfect for want of proper spikes, and the bridge broke, causing delay.

I had ordered General Blair to march out on the Marysville road five miles, there to await notice that General Granger was on a parallel road abreast of him, and in person I was at a house where the roads parted, when a messenger rode up bringing me a few words from General Burnside, dated December fourth.

Colonel Long had arrived at Knoxville with his cavalry, and all was well there. Longstreet still lay before the place, but there were symptoms of a speedy departure. I felt that I had accomplished the first great step in the problem for the relief of General Burnside's army, but still urged on the work.

As soon as the bridge was mended, all the troops moved forward. General Howard had marched from Loudon and had formed a pretty good ford for his wagons and horses at Davis, seven miles from Morgantown, and had made an ingenious bridge of the wagons left by Vaughn at Loudon, on which to pass his men. He marched by Unitia and Louisville. On the night of the fifth, all the heads of columns communicated at Marysville, where I met Major Van Buren, of General Burnside's staff, announcing that Longstreet had the night before retreated on the Rutledge, Rodgersville, and Bristol road, leading to Virginia; that General Burnside's cavalry was on his heels; that the General desired to see me in person as soon as I could come to Knoxville. I ordered all the troops to halt and rest, except the two divisions of General Granger, which were ordered to move forward to Little River, and General Granger to report in person to General Burnside for orders.

His force was originally designed to reenforce General Burnside, and it was eminently proper that it should join in the stern chase after Longstreet. On the morning of December sixth, I rode from Marysville into Knoxville and met General Burnside. General Granger arrived later in the day. We examined his lines of fortifications, which were a wonderful production for the short time allowed in the selection of was ground and construction of work. It seemed to me they were nearly impregnable. We examined the redoubt named Saunders, where, on the Sunday previous, three brigades of the enemy had assaulted and met a bloody repulse. Now all was peaceful and quiet, where, but a. few hours before, the deadly bullet sought its victim, all round about that hilly barren.

The General explained fully and frankly what he had done and what he had proposed to do. He asked of me nothing but General Granger's command, and suggested, in view of the large force I had brought from Chattanooga, that I should return with due expedition to the line of the Hiawassee, lest Bragg, reenforced, might take advantage of his absence to assume the offensive. I asked him to reduce it to writing, which he did, and I here introduce it as part of my report:

headquarters army of the Ohio, Knoxville, December 7, 1863.
Major-Gen W. T. Sherman, Commanding, etc.:
General: I desire to express to you and your command my most hearty thanks and gratitude for your promptness in coming to our relief

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
December 4th (2)
December 7th, 1863 AD (1)
December 6th (1)
December 2nd (1)
5th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: