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‘ [191] from Missouri. You may rest assured, I will do all in my power to destroy Beauregard's army, but I desire to be prepared before making the undertaking.’ On the 10th, he repeated: ‘As soon as I can concentrate my forces, I shall assume the offensive.’

The rebels, however, knew the significance of this concentration quite as well as the national authorities, and Breckenridge, with about three thousand men, was dispatched from West Virginia, to distract, if possible, some of the troops in Tennessee. He succeeded only too well. On the 13th of November, he attacked a force of fifteen hundred men under General Gillem, stationed near Morristown, in East Tennessee, driving them back as far as Knoxville, with a national loss of about two hundred, in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Thomas at once gave directions to Stoneman, at Louisville, and to Steedman at Chattanooga, to reinforce Knoxville. On the 16th, he telegraphed: ‘Ammen reported that he had sent reinforcements to General Gillem.’ On the 17th: ‘I heard from Steedman this morning that he was preparing last night to reinforce Knoxville, in accordance with my directions. . He will be able to send two thousand men. . . Stoneman telegraphs me, from Louisville, that he can concentrate five mounted regiments in three days, to go to the relief of General Ammen.’ On the 18th, however, the rebels withdrew as rapidly as they had advanced. Nevertheless, Stoneman was ordered to concentrate as large a force as he could in East Tennessee, and either destroy Breckenridge, or drive him into Virginia. Thus, the enemy was able to make important diversions of national

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