“Owing to the presence of Longstreet still in East Tennessee it will be impossible to attempt any movement”

I wrote Gen. Thomas to inform him of my desire to move against Mobile once Longstreet is cleared out of East Tennessee.

 

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, January 19, 1864.

Major General GEORGE H., THOMAS,

Chattanooga:

Owing to the presence of Longstreet still in East Tennessee it will be impossible to attempt any movement from present positions while he remains. The great number of veteran volunteers now absent and you to be furloughed will be another difficulty in the way of any movement this winter. Sherman, however, will be able to collect about 20,000 men from that part of his command now along the Mississippi River available for a movement eastward from Vicksburg. He excepts to have these ready to start about the 14th instant. He will proceed eastward as far as meridian at least, and will thoroughly destroy the roads east and south from there, and if possible will throw troops as far east as Selma; or if he finds Mobile so far unguarded as to make his force sufficient for the enterprise, will go there. To co-operate with this movement you want to keep up appearances of preparation of an advances of preparation of an advance from Chattanooga; it may be necessary, even, to move a column as far as La Fayette. The time for this advance, however, would not be before the 30th instant, or when you might learn the enemy were falling back. Logan will also be instructed to move as the same time what force he can from Bellefonte toward Rome. We will want to be ready at the earliest possible moment in the spring for a general advance.

I look upon the line for this army to secure in its next campaign to be that from Chattanooga to Mobile, Atlanta and Montgomery being the important intermediate points. I look upon the Tennessee River and Mobile as being the most practicable points from which to start and to hold as bases of supplies after the line is secured. I have so written to the General-in-Chief, only giving ny views more fully, and shall write to him to-day giving my views of the co-operation we should have from the Eastern armies. I shall recommend that no attempt be made toward Richmond by any of the routes heretofore operated on, but that a moving force of 60,000 men be thrown into New bern or Suffolk (favoring the late place), and move out, destroying the road as far toward richmond as possible; then move to Raleigh as rapidly as possible; hold that point, and open communication with New Bern-even Wilmington. From Raleigh the enemy’s most inland line would be so threatened as to force them to keep on it a guard that would reduce their armies in the field much below our own. Before any part of this programme can be carried out Longstreet must be driven from East Tennessee. To do this it may be necessary to send more force from your command.. I write to give you an idea of what I propose and at the same time to hear such suggestions as you may have to propose.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 45-6

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 142-43

“I would respectfully suggest whether an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond is not advisable”

Gen. Halleck has asked my opinion on the proper course of action in the Eastern theater in the upcoming year.  In my opinion, attempting to move directly against Richmond has been tried and failed.  We must seek to outflank Lee’s army.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

 

Nashville, Tenn., January 19, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief of the Army, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I would respectfully suggest whether an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond is not advisable, and in lieu of these one be taken farther south. I would suggest Raleigh, N. C., as the objective point and Suffolk as the starting point. Raleigh once secured, I would make New Berne the base of supplies until Wilmington is secured.

A moving force of 60,000 men would probably be required to start on such an expedition. This force would not have to be increased unless Lee should withdraw from his present position. In that case the necessity for so large a force on the Potomac would not exist. A force moving from Suffolk would destroy first all the roads about Weldon, or even as far north as Hicksford. From Weldon to Raleigh they would scarcely meet with serious opposition. Once there, the most interior line of railway still left to the enemy, in fact the only one they would then have, would be so threatened as to force him to use a large portion of his army in guarding it. This would virtually force an evacuation of Virginia and indirectly of East Tennessee. It would throw our armies into new fields, where they could partially live upon the country and would reduce the stores of the enemy. It would cause thousands of the North Carolina troops to desert and return to their homes. It would give us possession of many negroes who are now indirectly aiding the rebellion. It would draw the enemy from campaigns of their own choosing, and for which they are prepared, to new lines of operations never expected to become necessary. It would effectually blockade Wilmington, the port now of more value to the enemy than all the balance of their sea-coast. It would enable operations to commence at once by removing the war to a more southern climate, instead of months of inactivity in winter quarters. Other advantages might be cited which would be likely to grow out of this plan, but these are enough. From your better opportunities of studying he country and the armies that would be involved in this plan, you will be better able to judge of the practicability of it than I possibly can.

I have written this in accordance with what I understand to be an invitation from you to express my views about military operations, and not to insist that any plan of mine should be carried out. Whatever course is agreed upon, I shall always believe is at least intended for the best, and until fully tested will hope to have it prove so.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 39-40

O.R., I, xxxiii, p 394-95

“Longstreet is said to be moving toward Knoxville by the main Virginia road, re-enforced by one division”

I have received reports that Longstreet has been reinforced and is marching on Knoxville again.  The difficult supply situation makes it impossible to reinforce Gen. Foster.  I wrote him,

NASHVILLE, January 16, 1864.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Knoxville:

I am advised that Longstreet has been re-enforced by a division of Ewell’s corps, and that another division is expected. Longstreet is said to be moving toward Knoxville by the main Virginia road. I could send you re-enforcements, but they cannot be subsisted. I think if this is true you had better keep your forces between Longstreet and Thomas. I will telegraph Thomas to make extra exertions to feed you.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

I also wrote to Gen. Thomas, to ask him to send supplies to Foster.

NASHVILLE, January 16, 1864-12.30 a. m.

Major-General THOMAS:

Longstreet is said to be marching toward Knoxville, re-enforced by one division from Ewell’s corps, with another expect. I have advised Foster to keep his between Longstreet and you. Should he be forced back south of the Tennessee it may become necessary for you to re-enforce him from your command. In that case I would fill the place by troops taken Major General W. T. Sheridan’s command. Send Foster all the provisions you can. The question of provisions alone may decide the fate of East Tennessee.

GRANT,

Major-General.

I then wrote Gen. Halleck,

January 16, 1864-1 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief:

Longstreet is said to be moving toward Knoxville by the main Virginia road, re-enforced by one division from Ewell’s corps; another division expected. I have advised General Foster to keep between Longstreet and Thomas, and the latter to use every exertion to forward supplies. The question of supplies makes it impossible to re-enforce Foster where he now is, and will, I think, defeat the enemy.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

NASHVILLE, TENN.,

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 25, 30-31

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 109-110

“I look upon the next line for me to secure to be that from Chattanooga to Mobile”

I have determined that the supply situation in East Tennessee is just too difficult to support a move by Gen. Foster against Longstreet.  However, the wait gives us time to decide on our course in the spring and to prepare for our next move.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., January 15, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

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

GENERAL: I reached here the evening of the 12th on my return from East Tennessee. I felt a particular anxiety to have Longstreet driven from East Tennessee, and went there with the intention of taking such steps as would secure this end. I found, however, a large part of Foster’s command suffering for want of clothing, especially shoes, so that in any advance not to exceed two-thirds of his men could be taken. The difficulties of supplying these are such that to send re-enforcements at present would be to put the whole on insufficient rations for their support. Under these circumstances I only made such changes of position of troops as would place Foster nearer the enemy when he did get in a condition to move, and would open to us new foraging grounds and diminish those held by the enemy. Having done this, and seen the move across the Holston at Strawberry Plains commenced, I started on my return, via Cumberland Gap, Barboursville, London, and Richmond, to Lexington, Ky. The weather was intensely cold, the thermometer standing a portion of the time below zero; but being desirous of seeing what a portion of our supplies might be depended upon over that route, and it causing no loss of time, I determined to make the trip. From the personal inspection made, I am satisfied that no portion of our supplies can be hauled by teams from Camp Nelson. While forage could be got from the country to supply teams at the different stations on the road, some supplies could be got through in this way; but the time is nearly at an end when this can be done. On the first rise of the Cumberland 1,200,000 rations will be sent to the mouth of the Big South Fork. There I hope teams will be able to take [them]. The distance to haul is materially shortened, the road is said to be better than that by Cumberland Gap, and it is a new route and will furnish forage for a time.

In the mean time troops in East Tennessee must depend for subsistence on what they can get from the country and the little we can send them from Chattanooga. The railroad is now complete into Chattanooga, and in a short time (say three weeks) the road by Decatur and Huntsville will be complete. Steamers then can be spared to supply the present force in East Tennessee well, and to accumulate a store to support a large army for a short time if it should become necessary to send one there in the spring. This contingency, however, I will do everything in my power to avert. Two steamers ply now tolerably regular between Chattanooga and Loudon. From the latter place to Mossy Creek we have railroad. Some clothing has already reached Knoxville since my departure. A good supply will be got there with all dispatch. Then, if necessary, and subsistence can by possibility be obtained, I will send force enough to secure Longstreet’s expulsion.

Sherman has gone down the Mississippi to collect at Vicksburg all the force that can be spared for a separate movement from the Mississippi. He will probably have ready by the 24th of this month a force of 20,000 men that could be used east of the river; but to go west so large a force could not be spared.

The Red River and all the steams west of the Mississippi are now too low for navigation. I shall direct Sherman, therefore, to move out to Meridian with his spare force (the cavalry going from Corinth) and destroy the roads east and south of these so effectually that the enemy will not attempt to rebuild them during the rebellion. He will then return unless the opportunity of going into Mobile with the force he has appears perfectly plain. Owing to the large number of veterans furloughed I will not be able to do more at Chattanooga than to threaten an advance and try to detain the force now in Thomas’ front. Sherman will be instructed, while left with large discretionary powers, to take no extra hazard of losing his army or of getting it crippled too much for efficient service in the spring.

I look upon the next line for me to secure to be that from Chattanooga to Mobile, Montgomery and Atlanta being the important intermediate points. To do this large supplies must be secured on the Tennessee River, so as to be independent of the railroads from here to the Tennessee for a considerable length of time. Mobile would be a second base. The destruction which Sherman will do to the roads around Meridian will be of material importance to us in preventing the enemy from drawing supplies from Mississippi and in clearing that section of all large bodies of rebel troops. I do not look upon any points except Mobile, in the south, and the Tennessee, in the north, as presenting practicable starting-points from which to operate against Atlanta and Montgomery. They are objectionable as starting-points to be all under one command, from the fact that the time it will take to communicate from one to the other will be so great; but Sherman or McPherson, one of whom would be intrusted with the distant command, are officers of such experience and reliability that all objection on this score, except that of enabling thaw two armies to act as a until, would be removed. The same objection will exist-probably not to so great an extent, however-if a movement is made than one column. This will have to be with an army of the size we will be compelled to use. Heretofore I have abstained from suggesting what might be done in other commanded than my own in co-operation with it, or even to think much over the matter; but as you have kindly asked me in your letter of January 8, only just received, for an interchange of views on our present situation, I will write you again in a day or two, going outside of my own operations.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 14-17

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 99-101

“General Foster’s orders to General Boyle do not contemplate the abandonment of Kentucky to the enemy”

I have received the following letter from Gov. Bramlette of Kentucky.  He complains that we have not left him enough troops to guard against rebel guerrilla activity.

January 6, 1864.

Major-General GRANT:

General Boyle has been ordered, on 23rd December, by Major-General Foster, to send all organized troops in Kentucky, except small garrison at depots, to Knoxville. This order takes the forces raised under special act for Kentucky defense, will expose the State to desolation by home rebels and guerrillas, kept down by their presence, and will occasion the destruction of your southern communications through Kentucky by guerrillas. The twelve months’ troops were all raised under the act for State defense and to relieve other troops on that duty.

T. E. BRAMLETTE,

Governor.

I replied,

Major-General, Commanding.

NASHVILLE, January 13, 1864.

Governor THOMAS E. BRAMLETTE,

Frankfort, Ky.:

I found your dispatch of January 6 at my headquarters on my arrival here last night, and in reply have the honor to inform you that General Foster’s orders to General Boyle do not contemplate the abandonment of Kentucky to the enemy, either in organized or guerrilla bands, but specially require a sufficient number of the troops now on duty in the State to be retained for the purpose of securing the safety of all important parts, as well as the security of our lines of communications. Kentucky is a portion of my command, and shall receive hereafter as heretofore all the protection that my forces are capable of giving. In all the dispositions of troops that I may make the importance of protecting her territory and securing her citizens from danger of internal disturbances will be kept steadily in view.

But, while busy with so many other matters of equal importance, I am well aware that I may not be able to obtain a full understanding of all that concerns her interests, and have therefore to request that you will communicate frankly with me at all times upon any subject you may deem sufficiently important to demand my attention.

I regret exceedingly not having seen you as I passed through Frankfort, but I expect to be in Louisville next week, and, if possible, will visit you at Frankfort. I desire to see you in person for the purpose of conferring more fully than is possible by letter upon the questions alluded to herein.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 11-12

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 37, 85-86

“I would recommend.. the appointment of General W. F. Smith to major-general”

Gen. Foster is suffering from an injury caused by falling from his horse and his worsening health may make it necessary to relieve him.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

NASHVILLE, TENN., January 13, 1864 11 a. m.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief:
If General Foster is relieved General McPherson or General Schofield would suit me to fill his place, but both are ranked by generals already in the Department of the Ohio. I would recommend, therefore, the appointment of General W. F. Smith to major-general and rank dated back to his first appointment, and he be given the command. If it is in contemplation to give General Smith a higher command, either of the officers named or General Parke will suit me.
U.S. GRANT,
Major General, Commanding.

He replied,

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., January 13, 1864.
Maj. Gen. U. S. GRANT, Chattanooga, Tenn.:
I have just received your telegram, recommending the appointment of Brig. Gen. W. F. Smith to a major-generalcy. Your former recommendation was submitted to the Secretary of War, and I think the appointment will be made as soon as there is a vacancy. Not only is there no vacancy now, but by some error more than the number authorized by law were made last summer, and some major-generals now in service must be dropped. Their names cannot be sent to the Senate.
I hope it may not be necessary to relieve General Foster, as he is a good officer and a live man. There are some doubts about General Schofield’s confirmation. If ordered to your command I think you will find him an able officer for any position. No change of commands will probably be made till the Senate acts upon his case.
Yours, truly,
H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 10-11

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 80

“Owing to the want of clothing …it is impossible to move more than 60 per cent, of his men until they are supplied”

The problems supplying Gen. Foster’s troops are hindering any possible move against Longstreet.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

BARBOURSVILLE, KY., January 8, 1864.

Major-General HALLECK,

General-in-Chief:

Owing to the want of clothing, particularly shoes, in Foster’s command, it is impossible to move more than 60 per cent, of his men until they are supplied. Clothing is now on the way, and it is hoped will be in Knoxville within one week from this time. I have directed Foster then to attack and drive Longstreet at least beyond Bull’s Gap and Red Bridge. In the mean time I have directed the Ninth and Twenty-third Corps to be pushed on to Mossy Creek, the Fourth Corps to Strawberry Plains, and the cavalry to Dandridge, to scout and forage south of the French Broad and threaten Longstreet’s flank.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 9-10

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 43

“I think will be advisable to send a cavalry expedition against Abingdon and Saltville”

Gen. Foster’s advance on Longstreet is hampered by a lack of supplies.  We must do the best we can to outfit his army under the current weather conditions.  I wrote him,

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Near Maynardville, Tenn., January 5, `864.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Commanding Department of the Ohio:

GENERAL: In conjunction with your move against Longstreet, when it is made, I think will be advisable to send a cavalry expedition against Abingdon and Saltville. Such an expedition should fit upon at some place in Southeast Kentucky, and be prepared to start so as to co-operate with you, moving by the roads north of and near to the Virginia lie. The Tennessee troops now organizing in Kentucky I think will be sufficient for this move. They could furnish you more assistance in this way than if directly with you. Kautz will be a most excellent officer to instruct this expedition to, and if selected had better begin at once organizing it.

I find that Willcox has six batteries of artillery, besides the captured pieces of Cumberland Gap. To move this a large number of additional horses will be required. If horses are brought here at this season of the year, with the present scanty supply of forage, exposed in the open air, with the very little attention they can receive whilst they and the men are in such a comfortless condition they would be mostly unfit for service by the time the roads are good in the spring. Under the circumstances I think it advisable to get all the guns you can dispense with this winter into fortifications, and send the horses where they can be fed and recruited by spring. By selecting the best horses for the batteries you determine to keep in the field, enough might be got for any present movement.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 7,8

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 27-28

“It has been as cold as Sacketts Harbor for the last two days so that I do not get out much”

I wrote Julia,

Knoxville Ten.
January 2d 1863. [1864]
Dear Julia,
Owing to the necessity of some supplies yet to come forward before an advance can be made by the Army here I may be detained here for a week yet. I do not think you need look for me back before the 15th, then it may be necessary for me to return here before the Winter is over. I very much fear the enemy intend holding a position in this country for the Winter and to make this the great battle field in the Spring. It has been as cold as Sacketts Harbor for the last two days so that I do not get out much. This is a very loyal place however and but for the inaccessibility of it I would bring you here and remain most of the Winter.
I have nothing special to write you and besides the mails are so irregular that I may beat this to Nashville now though I do not start for a week. Kisses for yourself and Jess.
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 6-7

Library of Congress, Ulysses S Grant

“I very much fear the enemy intend holding a position in this country for the Winter”

I wrote Julia,

Knoxville Ten.
January 2d 1863. [1864]
Dear Julia,
Owing to the necessity of some supplies yet to come forward before an advance can be made by the Army here I may be detained here for a week yet. I do not think you need look for me back before the 15th, then it may be necessary for me to return here before the Winter is over. I very much fear the enemy intend holding a position in this country for the Winter and to make this the great battle field in the Spring. It has been as cold as Sacketts Harbor for the last two days so that I do not get out much. This is a very loyal place however and but for the inaccessibility of it I would bring you here and remain most of the Winter.
I have nothing special to write you and besides the mails are so irregular that I may beat this to Nashville now though I do not start for a week. Kisses for yourself and Jess.
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 6-7

Library of Congress, Ulysses S Grant