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[250] We shall probably be apprised of his movements, in that event, soon enough. In General Willcox's front above, all appears to be quiet to-day. We have endeavored to telegraph, as the line is open, but have been informed that the General will take charge of that duty, and telegraph what he wishes to be made public. Of course, that proposition admits of no argument, however much we might be inclined to regard with jealous eyes an opposition correspondent with such unusual facilities.

Monday, November 16, P. M..--Rumors reached us last evening that a battle was being fought at Campbell's Station, twelve miles from Knoxville, on the Lenoir road. Longstreet's army, variously estimated to number from ten thousand to twenty thousand strong, after crossing the river, pressed en masse on the slowly retiring columns of General Burnside, who received them in line of battle in a good position at the point named. The enemy, who evidently expected to march without impediment into Knoxville, made a most confident and determined attack. They underestimated the value of the veteran soldiers of the Ninth army corps, and the obstinate courage of White's veteran boys, and were handsomely repulsed, with terrible loss. In vain they manoeuvred, and made charge after charge. They were met at every point.1

Skirmishing was kept up vigorously all day, and night fell upon the hotly contested field, leaving us still in position. General Burnside had gained a day of time, and during the night fell back to Knoxville slowly and in good order. Our loss is three hundred killed, wounded, and missing. The list of wounded is embodied in the hospital report, inclosed.

The behavior of our troops was worthy of all praise. The gallantry of the Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky regiments being especially note-worthy. The Thirteenth Kentucky was at one time surrounded, and cut their way out, suffering fearfully in killed and wounded. The One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois was exposed throughout, and won the admiration of all. Their loss, as was that of the Eighth Michigan, Twentieth Michigan, and Seventeenth Michigan, was severe.

Active preparations are now making for the defence of Knoxville. Retreat is not even thought of. In fact, General Burnside has issued an order to that effect. Captain Poe, Chief Engineer on General Burnside's staff, is at work on the fortifications. Rifle-pits and breastworks are springing up around the soon to be beleaguered city. Forests are being cleared, the sluices and creeks on the north are being damned up, and the plain in front will soon to be breast-deep in water. Captain Poe is every inch the soldier, and there is a general feeling pervading the army and people that our defences could scarce be in abler or wiser hands. His calm deportment, systematic vigor, and quiet earnestness inspire every one with confidence. We miss the practical common-sense of Gilbert, and the soldierly experience of Hartsuff at this crisis; nevertheless, there is no want of confidence or cheerful courage manifest anywhere, unless among the sutlers and timid Union people, who see a rebel in every shadow. The rebel population are jubilant, and are making preparations to receive their friends to-morrow, and have already planned the programme for us when the stars and bars shall float over the city. We shall see.

I rode around the lines to-night, and am impressed with the feeling that, were our numbers only equal to the spirit and courage of our men, no emergency could endanger Knoxville; but alas! our defences are as yet incomplete, and our lines are fearfully thin. If the rebels come on with the much boasted dash of the veterans of the Potomac, and assault, our lines may be broken, and the contemplation of the famous hospitalities, or rather infamous inhospitalities, of Libby, or Castle Thunder, may not be altogether out of order.

Tuesday, November 17.--The storm is upon us. Longstreet's legions are investing Knoxville. Our boys are skirmishing already with their lines on the Lenoir road. General Sanders, with the One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois, Forty-fifth Ohio, Eighth Michigan, and Twelfth Kentucky, are in front. The sharp crack of musketry is heard, growing more and more frequent, and the affair is getting serious. The town is filled with rumors of coming rebels. Vaughn, it is said, has crossed the river below, and will attack our positions on the south bank. A. P. Hill is marching with two corps from Virginia, and Pegram, Forrest, and Wheeler are crossing the Watauga toward the Gap, to cut off our retreat and supplies.

In the mean time, as an offset, our forage-trains are bringing in corn and hay from eight miles south of the river, and the telegraph north is still working. We are anxious, of course, to know what Longstreet's intentions are. Doubtless, the cooperation of the Virginia forces was one part of his plans; but in this he will probably be disappointed, as the advance of General Meade will, doubtless, render the assistance of General Hill's, or any other Virginia. troops impossible. General Willcox, at Bull's Gap, reports no such or similar force in his front. Ten, or even twenty thousand rebels cannot take Knoxville, nor is that number sufficient to lay effectual blockade and siege. Many think that Longstreet, having blundered into East-Tennessee after the bait set by Burnside, will, upon discovering his mistake, make a feint upon Knoxville, while endervoring to march into Kentucky, or escape to Virginia. Of course, this is all conjecture. The only sure thing now is, that he is actually in our front, and we are in a state of siege, call it by what name we please. If, as is currently reported and believed, Burnside permitted Longstreet to cross the river, and drove him on to Knoxville by order of General Grant--thus, on the eve of a battle with Bragg, detaching twenty thousand men — we may rest confident that the hero o<*> Vicksburgh will not permit the manoeuvre to go


1 See page 189 ante.

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