“Have just arrived at this place, and will go to the front this evening or in the morning”

I have arrived in Knoxville.  I immediately sent a report to Gen. Halleck of the situation regarding the enemy forces under Longstreet.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, December 31, 1863-11 a. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,


Have just arrived at this place, and will go to the front this evening or in the morning. The Fourth and Ninth Corps are at blain’s Cross-Roads, the Twenty-third at Strawberry Plains, with one brigade and Sturgis’ cavalry at Mossy Creek and Talbott’s Station. Longstreet is at Morristown.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 577

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 542

Foster: “Sturgis held his ground, and ended by driving the enemy entirely off the field”

I have received two messages from Gen. Foster, confronting Gen. Longstreet in East Tennessee.

Major-General GRANT.

KNOXVILLE, December 28, 1863.

General Sturgis, with his own and Elliott’s cavalry,has been almost constantly engaged with the enemy’s cavalry for the past few days. He has gallantly driven them from every position,and is now in the country between Mossy Creek and Morristown. One of his brigades made a dash into Marten’s camp last night, and put to flight three rebel brigades and captured their camp, with provisions and cooking utensils. Longstreet is unhappy about his communications.



KNOXVILLE, December 29, 1863.

At 11 a. m. to-day the whole of the enemy’s cavalry, supported by a division of infantry and two batteries of artillery, attacked General Sturgis near Mossy Creek. The fight was severe and general, and lasted until 5 p. m. Sturgis held his ground, and ended by driving the enemy entirely off the field, achieving a complete victory.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 573

O.R., I, xxxi, part 1, p 625-6, 646

“I will leave in the morning for Knoxville and probably reach there on New Years day.”

I wrote Julia,

Chattanooga Tennessee,

December 28th 1863,

Dear Julia,
I just arrived here this afternoon traveling steadily ever since I left you. I will leave in the morning for Knoxville and probably reach there on New Years day. If I get there in the morning will remain but a few hours and push on up the valley towards where the two Armies are confronting each other. How long I may be compelled to remain there it is impossible to tell. It may be but a day or it may be a week. I shall stay no longer than is necessary. You need not look for me earlier than the 10th. of January and, I think, not later than the 15th.
Wilson, Dr. Kittoe, Bowers, Duff & Dunn go with me. We will have a hard time of it with the present state of the roads and at this season of the year. But I always feel well when I can get a plenty of out of doors exercise. The fact is hard labor is the easiest duty I have to perform.
I have a greatdeel of writing to do to night and will therefore cut this short by sending a greatdeel of love and many kisses to you and Jess. Remember me to Mrs. Smith, Mr. & Mrs. Cameron and all at the house.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 576

Library of Congress, USG

“Ammunition has left Chattanooga for you”

Gen. Foster has been pushing after the enemy under Longstreet in East Tennessee.  He sent the following report.

KNOXVILLE, December 25, 1863.

Yesterday the cavalry was mainly engaged with the enemy’s cavalry beyond New Market. General Sturgis reports that on the Dandridge road Colonel Campbell’s brigade met a superior force of the enemy, and had a severe fight. They at once charged on his rear and captured two guns, but he recaptured them by a counter charge. The enemy lost 80 killed and wounded. Colonel Campbell, Colonel Garrard’s brigade,was also on the Dandridge and Morristown road,while Sturgis, with the main body, drove the enemy beyond Mossy Creek. Sixty-one prisoners have been brought in.



I hope to see the enemy’s forces routed completely, ending all threat against East Tennessee.  I wrote Gen. Foster,

NASHVILLE, December 25, 1863.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,


Ammunition has left Chattanooga for you. Averell succeeded in making a raid on Longstreet at Salem and destroyed much of the road, some locomotives and cars, three large depots, and an immense amount of stores. This will give you great advantage.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 572-3

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 488

O.R., I, xxxi, part 1, p 625

“I want East Tennessee as far as Bristol free from any threat from a rebel force”

The forces gathering under Gen. Forrest could prove to be a dire threat against our communications.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,


Nashville, Tennessee, December 23, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I am now collecting as large a cavalry force as can be spared at Savannah, Tennessee, to cross the Tennessee River and co-operate with the cavalry from Hurlbut’s command in clearing out entirely the forces now collecting in West Tennessee under Forrest. It is the design that this cavalry, after finishing the work they first start upon, shall push south through East Mississippi and destroy the Mobile road as far south as they can. Sherman goes to Memphis and Vicksburg in person, and will have Grenada visited and such other points on the Mississippi Central road as may require it. He will also take effectual measures to secure the quiet and safe navigation of the Mississippi.

I instructed McPherson to pay no attention to department or district limits in his operations against parties threatening the security of river navigation. It was not my desire to move against Mobile until the ends suggested in your dispatch are all secured. I want East Tennessee as far as Bristol free from any threat from a rebel force. I want West Tennessee and the State of Mississippi so visited that large armies cannot traverse there this winter, and would like to see the army in front of Chattanooga pushed farther south. This latter, however, I do not now expect to accomplish. The roads about Chattanooga have become perfectly impassable. This, however, obviates to a great extent the necessity for driving the enemy farther back at that point.

My advices from East Tennessee are not satisfactory. General Foster telegraphs me, however, that having no cipher he cannot telegraphs particulars as he otherwise would. If Longstreet retains his present position until the 28th, I shall leave Chattanooga on that day for Knoxville and the scene of operations in East Tennessee.

I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 551

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 473

Foster: “Longstreet is near Rutledge with a force equal to my own, but shows no disposition to attack us in our position”

Gen. Foster has been given the task of preventing Gen. Longstreet’s corps from returning to East Tennessee.  Unfortunately, he is suffering from severe supply problems.  He writes,

KNOXVILLE, December 15, 1863-4 p.m.

Major-General GRANT:

It is evident that I cannot perfect my arrangements for supplies by trains in time to meet the wants of this army for the next month. I have therefore to ask that you will order supplies of breadstuffs and small stores to be sent by the river, and that orders be given to get steamers over the shoals in the Tennessee River to be used for that purpose. The information from above is such a nature, though conflicting that I am now pushing the Fourth Corps to Blain’s Cross-Roads, to meet any demonstration or advance from Longstreet and to cover and protect our trains coming from Cumberland Gap.

Should it appear that Longstreet has been re-enforced from Virginia, we will take up the most advantageous position and accept battle.

In case he is retreating or attempting to cover his movement into Carolina, we shall endeavor to punish him to the extent of our ability.




He also sent this dispatch to Gen. Halleck,

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,


KNOXVILLE, December 17, 1863.

Longstreet has taken the offensive against General Parke, who has fallen back to Blain’s Cross-Roads, where Granger is now concentrating his corps. I intend to fight there if Longstreet comes. It is reported that he is re-enforced by a portion of Ewell’s corps. Elliott arrived yesterday, and I have ordered him toward Morristown to meet Wheeler’s cavalry and operate on Longstreet’s flank.

This question of supplies is very serious, and cramps military operations, having to concentrate and call in the foraging parties. It is with great difficulty that I can get quarter rations of meal or flour from day to day. It is very important, therefore, to get boats running on the Tennessee River so as to supply us this winter with bread, small stores, and ammunition.

Beef and hogs can be driven to us. I have sent orders to Captain Dickerson to this effect, but ask that you will also give such orders as will put the thing through.

The boat has just arrived at Loudon with timely supplies, which have been brought up on the train.

Please order medicines and hospital stores to be brought up on the next boat.




I had written him,

CHATTANOOGA, December 17, 1863.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,


I will try to send you stores to Loudon. You must get them from there by rail. Collect all the stores you can in East Tennessee this winter. A great battle may be fought in East Tennessee next spring, and stores must be collected for the subsistence of a large army. We are building boats here which will enable me, I hope, to send many stores from here.




He responded today,

Major-General GRANT,


KNOXVILLE, December 19, 1863.

I have just returned from the front to find your telegrams of the 15th, 16th, and 18th.

Longstreet is near Rutledge with a force equal to my own, but shows no disposition to attack us in our position. Had circumstances been favorable, I intended to attack him, acting in accordance with what I understood to be the wishes of General Halleck, but I am not sure that it would prove a good operation; at any rate, the freshet in the river from the recent rains has delayed operations for some days. I would like to confer with you in order to understand more fully what operations will lead to the best results.

Can I do this by telegraphing from Tazewell, to which place I can go for the purpose, or will it be better to come to Chattanooga by boat?




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 531, 546

O.R., I, xxxi, part 1, p 433

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 284

“I go to-morrow to Nashville”

Gen. Forrest seems to be concentrating his forces in preparation for a raid through Tennessee.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CHATTANOOGA, December 18, 1863-9.30 a.m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,


Sherman has returned. Granger and Elliott in pursuit of Longstreet. I go to-morrow to Nashville. If appearances do not improve, I will go to Knoxville in person about the 27th. I want before starting to organize and start a heavy cavalry force to move against Forrest, who seems to be collecting in West Tennessee to interrupt our communications.


Major-General, Commanding.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 544

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 436

“Nothing likely to happen would pain me so much as to see my name used in connection with a political office”

I have received a most puzzling letter from a Barnabus Burns, formerly Col. of the 86th Ohio.  He writes,

You will be, no doubt surprised to find yourself addressed by a stranger, upon a subject somewhat foreign to one which has so fully occupied your attention for the last two years or more.
A portion of the Democracy of this, and other states of the North West finding it impossible to co-operate with that portion of the party which oppose the war, and everything which looks to a speedy termination of the war by military power, have formed a separate organization. In Ohio we have fully organized by the appointment of a State Central Committee & of which I have the honor to be Chairman We have a Mass Convention in Columbus Ohio on the 8th of January A. D 1864, to appoint Delegates to a National Convention to be held in Cincinnati in May next, the same steps have been taken in all the North western States, & portions of the Middle and Eastern States.
At the Convention to be held on the 8th Prox. in Columbus, O it may be desireable to express the preference of the ‘War Democracy,’ for some Gentleman for the Presidency. Your Successful military career, your unfaltering devotion to your Country in its darkest hours of trial, your indomitable energy in overcomeing all obstacles, your Consumate skill and dauntless courage on the field of battle, have all combined to call the public mind to you as the man to whom the affairs of this great Nation should be committed at the close of the present incumbents term of office.
I therefore as chairman of the Central Committee of the ‘War Democracy’ of Ohio beg leave to inquire, very Respectfully, whether you will permit your name to be used at the 8th of January Convention spoken of, as a candidate for the Presidency at the approaching Presidential Elections? Your Early answer will be looked for with great anxiety. In the mean time may I be permitted to indulge the hope that your answer will be favorable.


I replied,

Your letter of the 7th inst. asking if you will be at liberty to use my name before the convention of the “War Democracy”, as can¬ didate for the office of the Presidency is just received.—The question astonishes me. I do not know of anything I have ever done or said which would indicate that I could be a candidate for any office whatever within the gift of the people.
I shall continue to do my duty, to the best of my ability, so long as permitted to remain in the Army, supporting whatever Administration may be in power, in their endeavor to suppress the rebellion and maintain National unity, and never desert it because my vote, if I had one, might have been cast for different candidates.
Nothing likely to happen would pain me so much as to see my name used in connection with a political office. I am not a candidate for any office nor for favors from any party. Let us succeed in crushing the rebellion, in the shortest possible time, and I will be content with whatever credit may then be given me, feeling assured that a just public will award all that is due.
Your letter I take to be private. Mine is also private. I wish to avoid notoriety as far as possible, and above all things desire to be spaired the pain of seeing my name mixed with politics. Do not therefore publish this letter but wherever, and by whatever party, you hear my name mentioned in connection with the candidacy for any office, say that you know from me direct that I am not “in the field,” and cannot allow my name to be used before any convention.
I am, with great respect,
your obt. svt.
U. S. Grant


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 541-2

Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield IL

“I will get everything in order here in a few days and go to Nashville and Louisville”

Gen. Sherman’s troops have returned, having chased Longstreet out of East Tennessee.  With winter setting in, we have no choice but to dig in and await the spring.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

Chattanooga, Tennessee, December 17, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

Sherman’s command has just returned from East Tennessee. There are left there now, besides the force Burnside had, Granger with about 11,000 infantry and artillery and Elliott’s division of cavalry.

This will be as much force as can be subsisted for the present and I think abundantly sufficient to keep the enemy from making any inroad, and possibly to drive him entirely out. The rains have already set in, making it almost impossible to subsist the army at any distance from steam-boat landings or railroad depots. To avoid all trouble and to economize transportation over the railroad, I have ordered Sherman to Bellefonte. He will there be able to supply all his forage from the country and nearly all his bread and meat. All the cavalry will be so disposed as to draw forage and most of their rations from the country. By this means and with the use of the Nashville and Decatur road, which I hope will be ready by February 1, I expect to be able to accumulate a large magazine of supplies here by spring. We now have three steamers running, and will have two more in a few days. Still two others are in progress of construction. By the means of these boats and such portions of the railroad as can be used, I will endeavor to accumulate supplies in East Tennessee to enable me to fight a battle there with a large army if the spring movements of the enemy should make it necessary.

If Longstreet is not driven from the valley entirely and the road destroyed east of Abingdon, I do not think it unlikely that the last great battle of the war will be fought in East Tennessee. Reports of deserters and citizens show the army of Bragg to be too much demoralized and reduced by desertion to do anything this winter. I will get everything in order here in a few days and go to Nashville and Louisville, and, if there is still a chance of doing anything against Longstreet, to the scene of operations there. I feel deeply interested in moving the enemy beyond Saltville this winter, so as to be able to select my own campaign in the spring instead of having the enemy dictate it for me.

I am, general, &c..,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 533-34

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 429-30

Halleck: “The holding of East Tennessee … is deemed of the greatest importance”

I received the following request from Gen. Halleck.  The government considers it of prime importance to protect the loyal population of East Tennessee.

Major-General GRANT,

Chattanooga, Tennessee:

We have heard nothing from General Foster for some days. Richmond papers of yesterday say that Longstreet is preparing to hold Rutledge; that his cavalry passed through Pound Gap and penetrated Kentucky to Mount Sterling, burning that place and capturing money and supplies, and that Cumberland Gap is threatened. If this be true, and Longstreet is establishing himself in East Tennessee, will it not be unsafe to withdraw Sherman’s forces till the enemy is driven out of the State? The holding of East Tennessee, and the prevention of the enemy from getting supplies there, is deemed of the greatest importance. Please give this suggestion your careful attention. Moreover as General Meade’s operations have failed to produce any results, Lee may send by rail re-enforcements to Longstreet without our knowing it. This contingency must also be considered.



I replied,

CHATTANOOGA, December 14, 1863-2 p.m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,


Have heard nothing definite from general Foster for several days. Sherman sends me word that he hears that Longstreet has lost most of his artillery and baggage and many prisoners; not certainly known, however. Sherman has one division at Tellico Plains, one at Sparta, and Howard’s corps on the Hiwassee. Granger is at Knoxville. Colonel Long has gone through the gorge at Tellico Iron-Works into Georgia in pursuit of a portion of Longstreet’ force. Elliott must be in East Tennessee somewhere, with his division of cavalry, but I do not know where. His start and progress as long as heard from has been slow beyond any apparent excuse. Granger will remain where he is until all danger has passed; also Elliott. I do not think the accounts from Richmond papers can be correct, or I would have heard it.


Major-General, Commanding.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 526-7

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 403, 422