with his right, while his centre and left seized the gaps and commanding points of the mountains in front. General Crittenden's reconnoissance on the ninth developed the fact that the enemy had evacuated Chattanooga on the day and night previous. While General Crittenden's corps took peaceable possession of Chattanooga, the objective point of the campaign, General Rosecrans, with the remainder of his army, pressed forward through the difficult passes of the Lookout and Missionary Mountains, apparently directing his march upon Lafayette and Rome. On ascertaining these facts, and that General Burnside was in possession of all East-Tennessee above Chattanooga, and hearing that Lee was being rapidly reenforced on the Rapidan, it seemed probable that the enemy had determined to concentrate his forces for the defence of Richmond, or a new invasion of the North. The slight resistance made by him in East-Tennessee, and his abandonment without defence of so important a position as Chattanooga, gave plausibility to the reports of spies and deserters from Lee's army, of reinforcements arriving there from Bragg. Fearing that General Rosecrans's army might be drawn too far into the mountains of Georgia, where it could not be supplied, and might be attacked before reenforcements could reach him from Burnside, I sent him, on the eleventh, the following telegram:
On the same day the following telegram was sent to General Burnside:Headquarters of the army, Washington, D. C., September 11.General Burnside telegraphs from Cumberland Gap that he holds all East-Tennessee above Loudon, and also the gaps of the North-Carolina mountains. A cavalry force is moving toward Athens to connect with you. After holding the mountain passes to the west of Dalton, or some other point on the railroad, to prevent the return of Bragg's army, it will be decided whether your army shall move further south into Georgia and Alabama. It is reported here by deserters that a part of Bragg's army is reenforcing Lee. It is important that the truth of this should be ascertained as early as possible.
On the twelfth, General Rosecrans telegraphed that, although he was sufficiently strong for the enemy then in his front, there were indications that the rebels intended to turn his flanks and cut his communications. He, therefore, desired that Burnside should move down his infantry toward Chattanooga, on his left, and that Grant should cover the Tennessee River, toward Whitesburgh, to prevent any raid on Nashville. He was of opinion that no troops had been sent east from Bragg's army, but that Bragg was being reenforced by Loring, from Mississippi. On the night of the thirteenth, General Foster telegraphed from Fort Monroe that “trains of cars had been heard running all the tine, day and night, for the last thirty-six hours, on the Petersburgh and Richmond road,” evidently indicating a movement of troops in some direction; and on the morning of the fourteenth, that Longstreet's corps was reported to be going south through North-Carolina. General Meade had been directed to ascertain, by giving battle, if necessary, whether any of Lee's troops had left. It was not till the fourteenth he could give me any information on this point, and then he telegraphed: “My judgment, formed of the variety of meagre and conflicting testimony, is, that Lee's army has been reduced by Longstreet's corps, and perhaps, by some regiments from Ewell's and Hill's.” As soon as I received General Rosecrans's and General Foster's telegrams, of the twelfth and thirteenth, I sent the following telegrams to Generals Burnside, Rosecrans, Hurlbut, Grant, and Sherman:Headquarters of the army, Washington, D. C., September 11, 1863.I congratulate you on your success. Hold the gap of the North-Carolina mountains, the line of the Holston River, or some point, if there be one, to prevent access from Virginia, and connect with General Rosecrans, at least with your cavalry. General Rosecrans will occupy Dalton, or some point on the railroad, to close all access from Atlanta, and also the mountain passes on the west. This being done, it will be determined whether the movable force shall advance into Georgia and Alabama, or into the valley of Virginia and North-Carolina.
Headquarters of the army, Washington, D. C., September 13, 1863.It is important that all the available forces of your command be pushed forward into East-Tennessee; all your scattered forces should be concentrated there. So long as we hold Tennessee, Kentucky is perfectly safe. Move down your infantry as rapidly as possible toward Chattanooga, to connect with Rosecrans. Bragg may merely hold the passes of the mountains to cover Atlanta, and move his main army through Northern Alabama to reach the Tennessee River and turn Rosecrans's right, and cut off his supplies. In this case he will turn Chattanooga over to you, and move to interrupt Bragg.
Headquarters of the army, Washington, D. C., Sept. 13, 1863.There is no intention of sending General Burnside into North-Carolina. He has orders to move down and connect with you. Should the enemy attempt to turn your right flank through