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[312]

The ready River route: Federal transports in the Tennessee, winter of 1863-4 here, waiting to get through the “Suck,” below Chattanooga, are some of the light-draft River steamers which enabled Grant to establish communications almost immediately after his successful encounter with Bragg. The smoke of the Chattanooga battles had scarely cleared away when the two little steamboats then at the disposal of the Federals were loaded with supplies for Burnside, besieged in Knoxville. They were to steam up the Tennessee, abreast of the troops, as far as the mouth of the Holston River, so that their freight might reach Burnside's famished troops as soon as the reenforcements drove off Longstreet. When this was done the River steamers plying between Knoxville and Chattanooga were kept busy and the former became a secondary base. Preparations for the Spring campaign were now set afoot. There were two objectives in Grant's mind. General Joseph E. Johnston had succeeded Bragg in command of the Confederate forces, and to vanquish his army and obtain possession of Atlanta were the important things. But Grant looked further into the future. An expedition against Mobile was seriously considered, and from Nashville, to which place Grant had returned, the telegraph wires were kept busy. Every effort was made to strengthen the Federal positions and prepare for the important movements that were to follow. Early in January, 1864, the Commander-in-chief, with his staff, returned to Chattanooga, and, boarding one the little River steamers, proceeded up the Tennessee as far as its junction with the Clinch River, up to which point the tedious repairs of the railroad from Knoxville to Chattanooga had progressed. From Knoxville Grant and his staff rode out over the frozen and difficult road to inspect the line of communication from Cumberland Gap that it was necessary to abandon or improve.

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Ulysses S. Grant (4)
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