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 command of this position, energetically commenced to perfect the defenses, ,and ingeniously though unsuccessfully endeavored to bring a supply of water into the fortifications. He reported his force to amount to seventeen hundred effective infantry and artillery, and about six hundred cavalry; the supply of ammunition was deficient, and some of it damaged by a badly constructed magazine. About August 20th it was ascertained that the army under General Rosecrans had crossed the mountains to Stevenson and Bridgeport. His force of infantry and artillery amounted to seventy thousand men, divided into four corps. About the same time General Burnside advanced from Kentucky, crossed, by using pack-mules, the rugged mountains west of Cumberland Gap, and about September 1st approached Knoxville, east Tennessee, with a force estimated at over twenty-five thousand men. General Buckner, therefore, evacuated Knoxville, and took position at Loudon, with a force of about five thousand infantry, artillery, and cavalry; this rendered the occupation of Cumberland Gap hazardous to the garrison, and of comparatively little value to us, but when its surrender was demanded by a force which might be resisted, General Frazier promptly refused to comply with the demand. Subsequently, General Burnside advanced with a large body of troops, and, approaching from the south, renewed the demand, when General Frazier, recognizing the inutility as well as futility of resistance, surrendered on September 9, 1863.1 The main body of our army was encamped near Chattanooga, while the cavalry force was recruiting from fatigue and exhaustion near Rome, Georgia. The enemy first attempted to strike Buckner in the rear, but failing, commenced a movement
1 Some of the garrison of Cumberland Gap escaped, and stated to General Jones that the surrender had been made without resistance, on the demands of the smaller detachments which had preceded General Burnside, and I was not advised of the fact that Buckner had previously retreated toward Chattanooga, and that Burnside was in possession of Knoxville. In my message of December 12, 1863, I referred to the event, as reported to the War Department, as follows:‘The country was painfully surprised by the intelligence that the officer in command of Cumberland Gap had surrendered that important and easily defensible pass, without firing a shot, upon the summons of a force still believed to have been inadequate to its reduction, and when reenforcements were in supporting distance and had been ordered to his aid. The entire garrison, including its commander, being still held prisoners by the enemy, I am unable to suggest any explanation of this disaster which laid open Eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia to hostile operations.’ So far as censure of General Frazier was implied in these remarks, I am now fully satisfied it was unjust, and I can only regret that the authentic information recently furnished to me had not been received at an earlier date, so that I might have relieved General Frazier from the reflection while I held executive authority. It gives me pleasure now to say that full and exact information justifies the high estimate I placed upon him when he was assigned to the separate command of that important post. Full justice can be done to General Frazier only when his report and those of his subordinate officers shall have been published.
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