I have been forwarded the following two reports from Gen. Burnside to President Lincoln.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, November 17, 1863-1.30 a.m.
Longstreet crossed the Tennessee River on Saturday [12th], at Huff’s Ferry, 6 miles below Loudon, with about 15,000 men. We have resisted his advance steadily, repulsing every attack, holding on till our position was turned by superior numbers, and then retiring in good order.
He attacked us yesterday about 11 o’clock at Campbell’s Station, and heavy fighting has been going on all day, in which we have held our own and inflicted serious loss on the enemy. No fighting since dark. We commenced retiring, and the most of the command is now within the lines of Knoxville. At the same time that Longstreet crossed the river a heavy cavalry force crossed the Little Tennessee, and advanced on this place by way of Maryville. Our cavalry force at Rockford was slowly pressed back by superior numbers, and at sundown Sunday [13th] night had fallen back to the infantry support on the first ridge from the river.
They did not attack yesterday morning, but in the course of the day disappeared from our front. I shall make every exertion to hold this place, and trust we shall be able to do so. The men are in good spirits and are behaving splendidly.
A. E. BURNSIDE,
His Excellency the PRESIDENT.
KNOXVILLE, November 17, 1863-10 p.m. [Received 6 p.m. 18th.]
Since I reported to you at 1 [1.30] this morning, troops, batteries, and trains have all arrived. The enemy did not press us during the night. The troops were placed in position, intrenchments thrown up where none existed, and every exertion made to render the position secure. The enemy have made no serious demonstration during the day.
Our cavalry on the Kingston road have been skirmishing all the afternoon, and have been pressed slowly back, and the enemy’s pickets are now about 2 miles from town. His advance to-day has not been vigorous, and he is evidently holding back for the arrival of his batteries or the development of some flank movement. If he should assault our position here, I think we can give a good account of ourselves.
They still have a force on the other side of the river with pickets in sight of ours, but have made no demonstration to-day.
A. E. BURNSIDE,
I wrote him,
CHATTANOOGA, November 17, 1863-9 p.m.
Major-General BURNSIDE, Knoxville:
Your dispatch received. So far you are doing exactly what appears to me right. I want the enemy’s progress retarded at every foot all it can be, only giving up each place when it becomes evident that it cannot be longer held without endangering your force to capture. I think our movements here must cause Longstreet’s recall within a day or two, if he is not successful before that time. Sherman moved this morning from Bridgeport with one division. The remainder of his command moves in the morning. There will be no halt until a severe battle is fought or the railroads cut supplying the enemy.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 405
O.R., I, xxxi, part 1, p 268
O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 177