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Chapter 17: campaign of Chattanooga

General Grant had hardly arrived at Stevenson on the afternoon of October 21, 1863, when he was met by an officer bearing an invitation from General Hooker to call upon him. They had been companions and possibly cronies in less fortunate days; besides, it was alleged that Hooker was ill; but neither Grant nor his staff considered this as a proper excuse for Hooker's marked violation of established military etiquette. Dana, like the rest, noted with approval that Grant, although not yet fully recovered from his late fall, made no reference to his own lameness, but, quietly ignoring the invitation of his subordinate, indicated that he desired to see at his car that night all the general officers within reach before going on to Bridgeport, the end of the road in operation. The incident was a trivial one, but its effect was all that could be desired. It was followed immediately by a call from Hooker, who showed no particular sign of illness, as well as from Rosecrans, Howard, and Butterfield.

At nine o'clock the next morning the party set out from Bridgeport on horseback for Chattanooga, by the way of the roundabout road through Jasper. Grant was accompanied in this ride by General Howard, as well as by Dana, Rawlins, Wilson, Bowers, Parker, and a few orderlies. [279] Dana, who knew the road well, was the guide as far as Jasper. Here the party divided, Grant and staff taking the longer route, while Dana and I, after baiting our horses, climbed Walden's Ridge by a cut-off road which he knew well. We made our way by moonlight to the eastern edge of the plateau overlooking the valley of the Tennessee, and the beleaguered town some seven miles away as the crow flies. Here we rested till the moon went down. We then descended the mountain to the crooked road along the north bank to the ferry at Chattanooga. As the south bank was only a couple of hundred yards away and in the possession of the enemy, our ride was an exciting one, within close range of the enemy's pickets, till we came to Moccasin Point. We ran the gantlet for several miles as rapidly and as noiselessly as possible, keeping within the shadow of the overhanging trees and seeking out the soft parts of the road so that the enemy's vedettes might neither see nor hear us. Fortunately we were fired upon but once, and reached the ferry without injury. Dana was known to the guard, who set us across the river without delay. Tie was also familiar with the streets of the town and guided our party quickly to Captain Porter's quarters, where we arrived shortly before midnight. Although we were not expected, we were received with true military hospitality. Our host gave us the best he had, but his supplies were limited. Our horses got only two ears of corn apiece, and each of us only one square of fried hardtack, with a small piece of salt pork and a cup of army coffee without milk or sugar. After our ride of fifty-five miles that day it was a most satisfactory meal, but it told its direful story of approaching starvation for the besieged in words far more impressive than any formal report.

Still guided by Dana, we mounted early next morning and rode at once to pay our respects to General Thomas, the new commander. This was my first meeting with that [280] distinguished man, but, introduced by Dana, it was the beginning of a friendship which speedily became intimate and lasted till his death. tie received us with every mark of consideration, and during the conversation which followed he made haste to say, “Mr. Dana, you have got me this time; but there is nothing for a man to do in such a case but to obey orders.” This was an allusion to the disinclination which he had frequently shown to supplant those in authority over him. He of course knew that he was the legitimate successor of Rosecrans. He knew also that the latter could not longer hold command of that army without great injury to its efficiency, and this was his method of letting it be officially understood that he was done declining the responsibilities and honors to which he was justly entitled. This interview over, we called upon General Smith, the chief engineer, and General Brannan, the chief of artillery. Those distinguished officers at once declared that under the sane and steady guidance of Thomas the danger of further disaster had not only disappeared but that order and confidence had already been established throughout the army. Our next duty was to ride the lines, visit the advance posts, and confer with the actual commanders of the troops. Everywhere we found short rations, little forage, and plenty of hungry soldiers and starving animals. And yet every vestige of discontentment had disappeared. Everybody seemed cheerful and hopeful. Officers and men alike had regained resolution and courage. Smith had already worked out his plans “for shortening the cracker line,” and Thomas had given them his approval. It remained only to lay them before Grant and under his sanction to perfect the means of putting them into effect.

That night at nine o'clock Grant and his staff, “wet, dirty, and well,” rode into town and went at once to Thomas's headquarters, where Dana and I soon found them. [281] It had been raining hard most of the day. The roads were rough, muddy, and slippery. The distances to be traversed were great, and the gait of Grant and his staff was too rapid for the headquarters' wagons. As a consequence they were left behind in the mountains and did not arrive till the next day. Meanwhile, Grant's horse had fallen and severely bruised his lame leg, his clothes were soaked with rain, anti both he and his staff were ravenously hungry. Although they had been taken in at Thomas's headquarters, they were not expected, and strangely enough nothing had been done to relieve their discomfort, when Dana and I arrived on the scene. Grant was sitting on one side of the fire over a puddle of water that had run out of his clothes; Thomas, glum and silent, was sitting on the other, while Rawlins and the rest were scattered about in disorder. The situation was embarrassing, but Dana and I took it in almost at a glance, and after a moment's conference with Rawlins, who had already begun to show his anger, I broke in with the remark: “General Thomas, General Grant is wet, hungry, and in pain; his wagons and camp equipage are far behind; can you not find quarters and some dry clothes for him, and direct your officers to provide the party with supper?”

This suggestive question broke the spell and brought to Thomas's serious countenance a smile of cordiality which, although belated, was followed at once by orders to Willard, his senior aide-de-camp, for rooms, dry clothes, and supper. Conversation began, and it was not long till a glow of warmth and cheerfulness prevailed. Smith and Porter came in and were presented, and before the evening closed the casual observer would not have suspected that there had been the slightest lack of cordiality in the reception which had been accorded to the weary general and his staff.

The foregoing incident was nevertheless an important one, and was followed by important consequences which [282] more or less seriously affected the relations of Grant and Thomas to the end of their lives. These great officers were singularly alike in taciturnity and pride, much as they differed in other respects. Grant, while slow to suspect incivility from any one, was not incapable of seeing it when his attention was called to it. He was personally kind, gentle, and hospitable, and never suspected any one else of being less so than himself; but Rawlins was alert and suspicious, and never forgot or forgave the incivility of this incident. Dana and I discussed it frequently afterwards, and came to the conclusion that it had its origin in the Shiloh campaign, where Grant, although nominally second in command, was really in disfavor, while Thomas, who belonged to another army, had been put in command of nearly all of Grant's troops. But back of that, Thomas's services and connections with the old army had been more creditable than Grant's, while his rank had been higher. As volunteer generals they had both done most excellent service. If Grant had captured Fort Donelson and taken Vicksburg, Thomas had won the battle of Mill Spring, had assisted in turning the disaster at Shiloh into a glorious victory, and by his personal courage and determination had saved the Army of the Cumberland at Chickamauga. If one had rendered great services, the other had also. Under the circumstances of their respective careers they, as well as their friends, might well differ in regard to which was the greater or more deserving man. After all, they were but men, honorable and upright, to be sure, but neither indifferent to his own interests nor to his own merits. Each respected the other, but neither respected nor valued the other more than himself. Each had confidence in the other, but neither had as much confidence in the other as in himself. While Thomas was far too lofty a man to criticise his commanding general, both Dana and I held the opinion from that time forth that Grant had more confidence in Thomas than [283] Thomas had in Grant, and that the incident in question grew out of the feeling which was perhaps unconscious on the part of Thomas, that in the command of the Army of the Cumberland he required supervision from no one, and especially not from Grant.

This view of the case was confirmed by the fact that from that time forth the staff of General Thomas, which was presided over by a distinguished but somewhat narrow-minded regular, never worked in harmony with the staff of General Grant nor showed proper subordination to it. They necessarily had much to do with each other, but they never worked cordially or harmoniously together. It is interesting to add that while Dana was a silent observer he always held that the conduct of Grant and his chief of staff during these trying times was more to be commended than that of their subordinates.

In spite of the chilly welcome Grant had received the evening before, he rode with Thomas bright and early to look over the ground which Smith had discovered at Brown's Ferry, opposite the north end of Lookout Valley, as a basis of operations for “shortening the cracker line.” Dana's work for the rest of the campaign was of secondary importance. He established his former relations with Grant and was everywhere treated as a member of his staff, but he had but little to do except to “act as the eyes of the government,” and keep it fully informed of the operations in progress.

He not only accompanied the generals in the reconnoissance which they made on Saturday, but on the next afternoon at five o'clock he started with me overland to join Hooker's column on its march from Bridgeport through Wauhatchie and Lookout Valley to Brown's Ferry. Dana had come to know the country on both sides of the river thoroughly, and it seemed to be as great a pleasure to him in this campaign as in that of Vicksburg to take part in the [284] movements of the troops. We arrived at Bridgeport at noon Monday, but instead of finding all arrangements completed, Hooker was neither there in person nor were his troops ready to begin the movement till sunrise the next morning. We got off at sunrise the next day, reached Shellmound by 10.30 A. M., and Whitesides by night. On the way we inspected the coal-mines and the Nickajack caves. The following day the column, with but little skirmishing, went into camp at Wauhatchie, within a few miles of the bridge which Smith, by a brilliant series of operations, had laid at Brown's Ferry. Instead, however, of remaining with Hooker, we cautioned him against a surprise, and proceeded by way of the new bridge to Chattanooga, and were thus the first to use the shorter “cracker line,” which was to play such an important part in relieving the army from want and preparing the way for future victories. We arrived at headquarters after dark, and at once reportedly Hooker's exposed position, urging that he should be ordered to withdraw to the bridge that night. We pointed out that his camp was within cannon-shot of Lookout Mountain, and that the enemy would doubtless fall upon it in force before daylight. Grant was both provoked and anxious. He had but a poor opinion of Hooker at best, and neither the incident at Stevenson nor our report had diminished his anxiety. We had done all we could to convince Hooker that he was in danger, as had Hazen, who was in command at the bridge-head, but Grant sent no further orders, and Hooker did not move. The temptation was too great for the enemy, and the consequence was the bloody affair of Wauhatchie, which took place between midnight and four o'clock next morning,1 at the cost of several hundred men killed, wounded, and prisoners. [285]

The next morning Dana and I rode with Grant and Thomas into Lookout Valley, where we met Hooker, Howard, and Geary. The meeting, as may well be imagined, deepened Grant's mistrust of Hooker, and resulted, as soon as he got back to headquarters, in a despatch from Dana to Stanton, dated that day, October 29, 1863-1 P. M., which runs as follows:

General Grant desires me to request for him that Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Wilson, of his staff, Captain of Engineers, be appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers. Grant wants him to command cavalry, for which he possesses uncommon qualifications. Knowing Wilson thoroughly, I heartily indorse the application.

Grant also wishes to have both Hooker and Slocum removed from his command, and the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps consolidated under Howard. He would himself order Hooker and Slocum away, but hesitates because they have just been sent here by the President. Besides, I think he would rather prefer that so serious a proceeding should come from headquarters. Hooker has behaved badly ever since his arrival, and Slocum has just sent in a very disorderly communication, stating that when he came here it was under promise that he should not have to serve under Hooker, whom he neither regards with confidence nor respects as a man. Altogether, Grant feels that their presence here is replete with both trouble and danger. ...

As I was detached the same afternoon with orders to examine and fortify the passes in Lookout Mountain, I knew nothing of this despatch till my return to headquarters several days later. It was then communicated to me by Rawlins and Dana in response to the appeal I was making at the time to secure promotion for Porter. My promotion, to take effect from the date of its recommendation, came in due time, but, for reasons which I never ascertained, Grant's request for the removal of [286] Hooker and Slocum from his command was not granted, and this is specially noticeable for the reason that such requests through Dana were generally complied with promptly enough.

During the first week of November Bragg detached a part of his force, and it was correctly surmised that this was for the purpose of co-operating with other Confederate forces in an effort to drive Burnside out of east Tennessee. Grant therefore became anxious to know the actual condition of affairs in Burnside's department, and concluded to send Dana and myself to ascertain, with discretionary authority to issue orders in his name, should it become necessary to secure compliance with such suggestions as we might think best to make.

We started November 9th, with an escort consisting of one troop of cavalry. The distance to Knoxville, by the route we took to avoid the enemy's main body, was about one hundred and seventy-five miles. That part of Tennessee, although no longer a newly settled country, abounded in forests and streams difficult to cross. The nights were getting cold, the roads were bad, and the entire country open to raids of the Confederate cavalry. We succeeded in making our way through Smith's Crossroads, Prestonville, and Kingston, to Lenoir's Station, and thence by rail to Knoxville, where we arrived late at night on the 12th. Calling at once on Burnside, we spent most of the night and the next day in conference with him and his generals. Early on the morning of the 14th we started on our return trip, and, riding around the head of Longstreet's column, reached Chattanooga without accident or delay by the night of the 17th. Dana sent two telegrams from Knoxville to Stanton, and three from Chattanooga, while I sent one to Grant, giving a full statement of the situation as we found it in east Tennessee. It was Dana's first meeting with Burnside, whom he [287] found to be a man of impressive appearance, but possessing a weak mind full of vagaries. After a long argument, in which we both participated, we succeeded in getting him to adopt the course which kept his army intact till after the victory of Missionary Ridge, when it was relieved of all danger by a strong detachment of Grant's army, under Sherman.

Grant's theory of the campaign in east Tennessee was that Burnside should hold fast to Knoxville, which was the centre of population and of railroads for the entire region, drawing supplies as far as possible from the surrounding country, and yet always operating in such manner as to imperil no part of his command. This it was not difficult to make Burnside understand as a matter of theory, but we found that he had already thrown a strong detachment forward to the Little Tennessee, up the valley of which the foraging was unusually good, and seemed determined to follow with his whole force. He had constructed a bridge across the Holston for that purpose, and appeared to think it would be a pity not to use it. As this movement would have left the road to Knoxville open to the advancing columns of the enemy, and might easily, in the presence of such a leader as Longstreet, have ended in the capture of Burnside and his whole force, we united in earnest remonstrance against the suggestion. It was in allusion to this foolish project that Dana, in his despatch of 12 M., November 18th, said:

Parke argued against this idea in vain, but finally General Wilson overcame it by representing that Grant did not wish him to include the capture of his entire army among the elements of his plan of operations.

Dana's despatches, as published in the Official Records, will well repay the military student by the light they cast [288] upon the difficulty which is frequently encountered in controlling the operations of a widely separated but cooperating army or army corps.

The ride of something over three hundred miles to Knoxville and back had just enough danger and adventure in it to make it romantic. Camping at night, when we could, near outlying detachments of our own troops, or, when we must, at lonely farmsteads, gave us an insight into the manners and customs of the people. It was during this trip that we first saw the loyal east Tennesseean, and heard him declare that he had no sympathy with “the rich man's war and the poor man's fight.” At the end of the first day's march we put up at an unusually comfortable farm-house, where we saw several good-looking young women and small children “dipping snuff,” and apparently enjoying it. We were everywhere received with generous but unpretending hospitality. The best was placed freely at our disposal. Forage for our horses, with food and shelter for ourselves, were never denied, and it was often with difficulty that we could make our host take pay for it. In the latter part of our ride we had the company of Horace Maynard, a loyal citizen, who gave us much interesting information about the State and its people.

It was during this ride, perhaps the longest we ever took together, that Dana beguiled our journey with an almost continuous disquisition on history, romance, poetry, and practical life. His extraordinary memory for the great passages of both prose and poetry of all ages and all countries struck me at the time as phenomenal. His quotations were both apt and endless, and as they were delivered always in a pleasant voice and manner, and, when questioned, were followed by a prompt statement of the author, I found them most interesting and instructive. I did not know then that Dana had delivered a lecture on “Early English Poetry,” nor that he had compiled The Household [289] Book of Poetry, but on learning those facts later, I frequently tested the accuracy of his memory by reading passages from his book and then asking who wrote them, and I cannot recall a single instance in which he did not answer correctly except where the author was marked “Anonymous.” It is an interesting circumstance which surprised us both, that General Lawler, the plain, old-fashioned southern Illinois farmer whom Dana called “The high Dominie Dudgeon,” made it one of his innocent boasts during the Vicksburg campaign, that no man in the army could repeat a line of standard English poetry of which he could not repeat the one preceding and the one following it. We never lost an opportunity to test the accuracy of that remarkable man's memory, and, greatly to our gratification, never failed to find it as good as he claimed it to be.

Before leaving this subject I should perhaps state that all through life Dana was a delightful conversationalist, who never seemed to forget anything he had ever read, but was at once able to call it to mind. Always cheerful, bright, and kindly himself, and taking an optimistic view of life, he treated its phenomena as a true philosopher, and commented upon the world's great men of every grade and nationality, not.only without heat or prejudice, but with marked moderation and charity. Never, even in the midst of his most exciting controversies as a journalist, was he known, strange as it may seem, to speak a word of bitterness or contempt against his most deadly antagonist.

For the light it threw on Dana's own characteristics, this ride into east Tennessee was a memorable one. It was made still more so by the fact that we got back just in time to participate in the preliminary movements and the great battle of Missionary Ridge. Dana, of course, reported his return at once, and the next day received a gratifying reply in which Stanton rejoiced at his safety, [290] assured him of the great anxiety he had felt about him for several days, directed him not only to make his arrangements to remain in the field during the winter, but to continue his reports as frequently as possible, “always noting the hour.”

Nothing could show better than these words the value attached by the President and the Secretary of War to Dana's despatches, unless it be one a few days later from Watson, who in the absence of Stanton was acting Secretary of War. After notifying him that the President was sick and the secretary absent, he added: “But both receive your despatches regularly, and esteem them highly, not merely because they are reliable, but for their clearness of narrative and their graphic pictures of the stirring events they describe. The patient endurance and spirited valor exhibited by commanders and men in the last great feat of arms, which has crowned our cause with such a glorious success, is making all of us hero-worshippers.”

And what a splendid privilege it was that Dana enjoyed! With robust health, faculties acute and fully aroused, trusted by the generals with all their plans, passing rapidly from place to place, and participating in the councils and dangers as well as in the triumphs of the army, it was both his pleasure and his duty to know everything, see everything, and report everything just as it was to the anxious authorities who had sent him out as their representative. He was, indeed, a commissioner of the government, not vain, empty, and pretentious, like those sent out by the French government in the early days of the Revolution, but modest, wise, and tactful, and in every way worthy of the mission with which he was intrusted. From whatever point of view they are considered, it must be admitted that the ability and success with which he discharged his delicate but important duties are worthy of high praise. They afford an example for imitation in future wars, and [291] when properly studied and analyzed they should reveal a set of practices and principles which should form a valuable part of our future military system.

The account Dana gives in his despatches from day to day constitutes a contemporaneous statement of events just as they appeared at the time. And this is most important when considered in connection with history. Obviously it is almost impossible for a general in the midst of a battle to keep an accurate record of what takes place in the various parts of the field, but in view of the fact that there is besides an almost uncontrollable tendency in the military mind, when it comes to writing reports, to make it appear that every fortunate movement was specially ordered, and that the battle in its most brilliant parts was planned and the victory gained just as they were intended. In actual practice this is rarely the case, and the battle of Missionary Ridge is no exception to the rule.

The general plan of that battle, as was well known to us both and as reported by Dana at the time, was that Sherman's forces should advance from Bridgeport through Lookout Valley, and after crossing the river on the Brown's Ferry bridge, should continue their march behind the hills on the north side of the river to a point opposite the mouth of the Chickamauga and the north end of Missionary Ridge; that Smith should here, under cover of darkness, lay a pontoon bridge across the Tennessee, upon which at the appointed time Sherman's troops should cross to the south bank; that they should then advance against the enemy's right flank, and roll him up or drive him from his direct line of retreat; that Howard should move out from Chattanooga by the south side of the river, cross Citico Creek, and join in Sherman's movement, and that Thomas, holding the centre, should co-operate as circumstances might require, while Hooker should march from Lookout by the way of Rossville against the enemy's left flank. [292]

As it actually turned out, Sherman's march was much delayed, and ended at the position assigned him a day late, owing to the fact that he male the mistake of encumbering his columns by the division wagon-trains. It also turned out that he halted, after recrossing to the south side of the river, to fortify, instead of proceeding at once to the attack, and that when he did attack, instead of carrying the enemy's flanking intrenchments, he was not only repulsed, but never succeeded in capturing them, or in actually turning or taking in reverse the enemy's line. In other words, an impasse took place from the first, and was never dissolved by any effort on the part of Sherman or Howard. It was thought at the time, and was afterwards claimed in the reports of both Sherman and Grant, that Sherman's movement had been met by a counter movement of many troops from other parts of the enemy's line, but a subsequent examination of the Confederate reports shows that Bragg, after Sherman made his lodgement on the south side of the river, drew no troops from his centre or left to strengthen his right. Dana fell into this error at the time as did the rest, but this did not affect his mind nor his report further than to relieve Sherman from blame for the repulse of his attacks front the first to the end of the action. No one can read the despatches without becoming convinced that Generals Grant and Thomas, as well as the staff-officers, including Dana, who were present with them on Orchard Knoll, thought on the second clay of the battle that Bragg was moving troops to his right against Sherman, and it was to prevent an overwhelming concentration of the enemy on that flank that Grant first mildly suggested that the time had come, and an hour later positively ordered Thomas to make a diversion from his front in Sheridan's favor by advancing his line against the enemy's rifle-pits at the foot of Missionary Ridge.

It should be remembered that all the marching and [293] skirmishing on the first day of the battle, November 23d, was for position, and that Dana, in his despatches of 7.30 P. M. of that day, said:

... Grant has given orders for a vigorous attack at daybreak by Sherman on the left, and Granger [commanding a corps of Thomas's army] in the centre, and if Bragg does not withdraw the remainder of his troops, we shall have a decisive battle. ...

It is to be specially noted that Sherman's attack was neither delivered on time nor was it successful, that it did not commence till after 9 A. M., and that Granger's was not delivered till after 4 P. M. It is also to be noted that Granger, instead of giving his attention to his corps, wasted his time in personally supervising the noisy but harmless service of a field-gun close to headquarters, greatly to the annoyance of Grant, and finally that this incident, trivial as it was, became the first step towards Granger's undoing. It convinced Grant that the “Marshal Ney of the army,” as Dana had styled him, was a trifler instead of a great soldier, and it was well known at the time to Rawlins and myself that it produced the same effect upon Dana. With these facts well in mind, it is easy to understand that part of Dana's despatch of November 26th-10 A. M., in which, referring to the final attack at the battle of Missionary Ridge, he says:

... The storming of the Ridge by our troops was one of the greatest miracles in military history. No man that climbs the ascent by any of the roads that wind along its front can believe that eighteen thousand men were moved up its broken and crumbling face, unless it was his fortune to witness the deed. It seems as awful as the visible interposition of God. Neither Grant nor Thomas intended it. Their orders were to carry the rifle-pits along the base of the Ridge and capture their occupants, but when this was [294] accomplished, the unaccountable spirit of the troops bore them bodily up those impracticable steels, over bristling rifle-pits on the crest, all thirty cannon enfilading every gully. The order to storm appears to have been given simultaneously by Generals Sheridan and Wood, because the men were not to be held back, dangerous as the attempt appeared to military prudence. Besides, the generals had caught the inspiration of the men, and were ready themselves to undertake impossibilities. ...

As Dana was personally present with the generals in frequent conversations throughout the day, and finally rode with Grant and his staff to the top of the Ridge before the fighting was ended, there is every reason why this account should have contained the exact truth as it did. And yet Grant and Sherman, when they wrote their reports, stated in substance that the battle was fought just as it was planned, and was won just as it was intended. Both made the same contention in their memoirs, and always adhered to that view. They either failed to consult Dana's despatches to the Secretary of War, or deliberately ignored them in favor of their own misconceptions. It may be safely added that history, and especially military history, is far too frequently written in that way.

The military student will find a brief but accurate summary of the remainder of this campaign in Dana's despatches. He was personally present with General Grant in his visits to the various parts of the army up to November 29th, on which day he left Chattanooga again with me for Knoxville. I had been sent to act as chief engineer to the forces detached for the relief of Burnside. Grant had pushed Bragg back from Missionary Ridge towards Resaca and Atlanta, thus separating him hopelessly from Longstreet and rendering effective co-operation between them henceforth impossible. But Longstreet had shut Burnside up and was closely besieging him in Knoxville. The [295] emergency was a pressing one, and in designating Granger to command the relieving column, Grant instructed him to use all possible haste and energy. But Granger failing to move with celerity, Grant ordered Sherman, a day or two later, to take command of the relieving troops, and at the same time added enough to them to make the column irresistible. As operations had ceased elsewhere, Dana was, as usual, glad to go, and overtook Sherman at Charleston, on the Hiwassee River, two days from Chattanooga. Thenceforth we were constantly with the advance-guard, doing all in our power to hurry the march. Our route traversed Athens, Philadelphia, Morgantown, and Marysville, all the way through a beautiful country, well supplied with cattle and provisions. Long's cavalry reached Knoxville at 3 A. M., December 4th, but we were delayed till late the next afternoon. Meanwhile the enemy, after suffering a bloody repulse on the 29th, had raised the siege and marched away to the north the next day. He had, of course, been advised of Sherman's coming, but as the relieving march was necessarily slow, he had ample start to make it difficult, if not impossible, to overtake him.

In addition to taking an active part in all the operations, Dana, by his despatches, as usual kept the government informed as to the incidents of the march, the construction of the bridges, the movements of the various infantry corps and divisions, and the failure of Elliot's cavalry to move from Sparta through Kingston for the purpose of taking part in the campaign. He commented upon the expectations of General Frank P. Blair, as to the command of an army corps, called attention to the anger of Grant at Granger, declared, notwithstanding his previous commendation, that Granger was unfit to command, intimated that Sheridan ought to succeed him, and finally prepared the secretary's mind for the fact that the winter rains would probably put an end to further operations in that quarter. [296]

The campaign having come to an untimely stop at Knoxville, Dana and I concluded to return to Chattanooga by the route we had just marched over, and on the way down had the company of Generals Blair and Schurz. As we travelled rapidly, Dana's horse gave out the second day, and as Longstreet's command had swept the country clear of everything fit for a remount, I asked Blair to let Dana have a led horse of his till another could be got, but this he churlishly declined to do. At the village of Philadelphia, a few miles in the rear, we had heard confidentially of a horse which had been concealed from the Confederates in a stall between a false wall and the rear end of the stable, and Dana proposed to go back for that, but the distance was too great. We therefore pushed on as best we could till we came to the camp of Colonel Hecker (president of the German Confederation of 1848). Here we discovered an excellent gray gelding running at large in a field near by, and, although strict orders had been issued to respect private property, at our request the colonel directed his men to catch the horse and bring it in, adding by way of explanation, with a suggestive twinkle of the eye, “It belongs to Herr Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War.”

During this long but pleasant ride Dana and Schurz beguiled the journey with conversations in German and English, which gave each a high opinion of the other's skill in languages, as previously related.

Dana and I got back to Chattanooga on December 10th, and after conferences with Grant, not only about the campaign just finished, but about the next one which should be undertaken, Dana made arrangements to return to Washington for the purpose of laying Grant's views before the Secretary of War and the President more fully than could be done by letter. General Smith, who had been transferred early in the campaign to Grant's staff as chief engineer, and as such had exercised a decisive influence [297] in the formation of the plans which had proven so successful, also took an active part in the conferences in reference to the plans for the winter campaign. Rawlins and others gave their views, so that Dana, while carrying Grant's final decisions, was fully advised as to the opinions of all who might be supposed to have any influence in regard to their determination. The war was clearly over for the winter in east Tennessee and northern Georgia. The Confederate forces, notwithstanding their concentration and partial victory at Chickamauga, had been overwhelmingly defeated at Missionary Ridge and thwarted at Knoxville. Longstreet had begun his toilsome march back to Virginia. Dana, as has been seen, had exerted a tremendous influence upon the reorganization of the Army of the Cumberland, the establishment of the Military Division of the Mississippi, the assignment of Grant to the supreme command, and the concentration of an overwhelming force at Chattanooga. He had expressed himself freely in reference to the consolidation of corps and the assignment of generals to command. He had written frankly whenever necessary in regard to the personal behavior and habits of the leading officers, and while it may be said that his language in some cases seems severe, I can state, on my own knowledge, that in every instance what he said was fully warranted, and had a most beneficial effect not only upon the service, but upon the fortunes of the war. It resulted in the elimination of several conspicuous but inefficient or unfortunate major-generals, and in the reformation of another, of whose habits Thomas had complained, but who was really a first-class soldier, and finally became one of the most useful and distinguished division and corps commanders in the Western army.

1 Dana to Stanton, October 29th and 30th.

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