reduced to skeletons.
Of about 30,000 animals with which General Burnside
had gone into East Tennessee
, scarcely 1000 remained fit for service; while his army of over 25,000 men had been reduced to not more than 7000 fit for duty and effective for service in the field.
Such was the result of the siege of Knoxville
, and such the Army of the Ohio when I became its commander.
But the splendid victory gained a short time before at Chattanooga
had raised the blockade upon our line of supply, and the railroad to Chattanooga
was soon opened, so that our starving and naked troops could begin to get supplies of food and clothing.
The movement of the first train of cars was reported by telegraph from every station, and was eagerly awaited by the entire army.
When the locomotive whistle announced its approach, everybody turned out to welcome it with shouts of joy. It proved to consist of ten car-loads of horse and mule shoes for the dead animals which strewed the plains!
Fortunately the disgust produced by this disappointment was not of long duration.
The next train, which followed very soon, contained coffee, sugar, and other articles to gladden the hearts of hungry soldiers.
The Confederate army under Longstreet
still remained in East Tennessee
A movement had recently been made by our troops, under the immediate command of General John G. Parke
being too lame to take the field in person), to drive Longstreet
out. But the movement had failed, the troops returning to Knoxville
with the loss of considerable material.
In consequence of this, much anxiety was felt in Washington
regarding the situation in East Tennessee
It was even apprehended that Knoxville
might be in danger; and an advance of Longstreet
's force to Strawberry Plains, where he laid a bridge over the Holston
and crossed a part of his troops, seemed to give some ground for such apprehensions.