Book III:—the Third winter.
N crossing the Chattooga Mountain
abandons for ever the basin of the Mississippi
, in which his valiant army has been fighting for the past two years and a half. Grant
contents himself with holding the entrance to the great gap in the Alleghanies
, and thinks only of delivering Burnside
, who is besieged.
proceeds to his assistance, the other corps hold themselves in readiness to support him and prevent Bragg
from taking, in his turn, the Knoxville
It is, then, necessary to watch the latter closely, without allowing one's self to be carried away in pursuit of him. Hooker
will remain at Ringgold
until the evening of November 30th, avoiding an engagement with the enemy if the latter remains quiet, but ready to attack him vigorously if he proceeds to Cleveland
, or to push as far as Dalton
if he evacuate that point.
The different divisions temporarily collected under his orders will go into winter quarters in the positions which they occupied on November 23d.
's will deflect from its road to accomplish a holy and sad duty: it is to visit the battlefield of Chickamauga
and bury the victims of that cruel struggle, of whom, notwithstanding the care of some compassionate Confederates, the decomposed corpses are still lying, for the most part, in the woods, covered as with a thick shroud by the sere, dead leaves.
, having hastened to Ringgold
, receives orders to return also, by easy marches, to Chattanooga
, systematically destroying behind him the railway between Ringgold
and Chickamauga Station
's stores are again almost exhausted; the commissary, who feeds a hundred and twenty-five thousand
men, has only three hundred and ten thousand rations of salt meat, and procures with difficulty the one hundred and seventy beeves that represent the fresh meat for one day. Hence, on the morrow, the 28th, Sherman
will be authorized to lead his six divisions as far as Cleveland
, in order to feed them for a few days on the resources of a country rich in cattle and grain.
Finally, the order is sent to Thomas
to set Granger
's corps on the road on the morning of the 28th.
So as to reach more promptly Knoxville
's and Sheridan
's divisions, each man taking forty cartridges and rations for three days, will not be followed by any wagon, but a steamer ascending the Tennessee
, loaded with provisions for ten days, will resupply them at Cottonport
, between Washington
With a view to supporting this movement and employing his cavalry, Grant
instructs General Elliott
to quit Alexandria
with two brigades, to march on Kingston
, where he shall collect Byrd
's brigade, and to lead these forces to Athens
, where he shall meet Granger
and unite with him. On his side, General Foster
, the designated successor to Burnside
, who has just arrived at Cumberland Gap
, shall take all the available troops there found—say about three thousand men—and march toward Knoxville
His movement, coinciding with Granger
's, will possibly contribute to the prompt raising of the siege.
the retreat of the Confederates
has not been annoyed.
, after having picked up booty on the road, finding Cleburne
posted on the slopes of Tunnel Hill
, has rejoined his division in the evening.
has reached Red Clay Station without meeting the enemy; he has destroyed the road, and, entrusting a cavalry regiment with the care of watching this line, returns to Graysville
at one o'clock in the morning.
At last, Long, whom we left on the 25th marching on Charleston
, retraced his steps on learning that the city was strongly occupied by B. R. Johnson
, and, passing by Harrison
, re-entered Chattanooga
on the evening of the 27th.
has, then, been able finally to halt his army at Dalton
, where he finds the provisions, the rest, and the security which it needs to reorganize and instill fresh confidence.
We shall leave it there for the moment.
Although he received his orders on the 27th at seven o'clock in
the evening, Granger
had not yet left Chattanooga
twenty-four hours afterward, when Grant
entered that place.
, rendered impatient by this delay, for which he holds the commander of the Fourth corps responsible, and judging that Thomas
has not sufficiently reinforced this corps, gives the direction of the short campaign which is to ensure the safety of Burnside
, who finds himself, by a fortunate chance, on the road to East Tennessee
He authorizes his most illustrious lieutenant to take with him, besides the troops already intended for the expedition, the whole or a part of the Fifteenth corps.
He knows that Sherman
will conduct the campaign with the energy necessary to reach Knoxville
before December 3d, which will mark the exhaustion of the resources of the garrison.
Although the soldiers that have followed him without halting since they left Memphis
are well entitled to some rest, Sherman
is not willing to deprive himself of their services to accomplish the difficult task which is entrusted to him.
hastily makes preparation at the very moment when the destiny of the Army of the Ohio is being decided on the glacis of Fort Sanders
have remained in telegraphic communication until the evening of the 24th.
The first has thus been cognizant of Grant
's demonstration on Indian Hill
The abrupt silence which succeeded this exchange of despatches proved to Longstreet
that the hostile cavalry is in the field on the left bank of the Tennessee River
On the next day he learns that it has appeared between Cleveland
At last, on the 26th and the 27th, first the report of a great battle, then of a disastrous defeat, spreads in the country drained by the Hiawassee
: this vague report is soon confirmed by the despatches of several telegraph-operators.
A weak general, feeling himself thus isolated and menaced, would have concluded promptly to retreat: the peril of his situation inspires Longstreet
, on the contrary, with an energetic resolution.
Instead of raising the siege of Knoxville
, he decides to attack without further delay.
His army, reinforced, is full of ardor and confidence: since he has the time neither to complete the approaches nor to starve out the place, he will make a determined effort to carry it by assault.
His lieutenants protest against his decision and raise objections to all projects of attack on
the works to the north, the east, or the south.
But nothing can shake him. ‘The more complete Bragg
's defeat is, the more necessary it is,’ said he, ‘to repair it by a brilliant victory.
By retiring without fighting into Virginia
we abandon the Army of the Tennessee to its conquerors.
This army once destroyed, what shall we be able to do to save the