“At the same time every preparation should be made for as early a move in the spring as practicable”

I wrote to Gen. Schofield in Knoxville,

NASHVILLE, February 16, 1864.

Major General J. M. SCHOFIELD,

Knoxville:

I telegraphed you some days ago that conversation with General Foster had decided me not to make any push against Longstreet for the present; also, that you might now get off the veterans you think you can spare. At the same time every preparation should be made for as early a move in the spring as practicable. Clothing should be got for the men, and all the rations accumulated possible.

All new regiments you may receive during the winter, as well as any old ones back in Kentucky available for duty at the front, should be rendezvoused where they can be easily provisioned, and at the same time be on the road either to join the army in the field or forma column to march into Western Virginia [through] Pound [or Stone] Gap. There is probably such a force in Southwest Virginia as would prevent a cavalry force penetrating by that route unaided by infantry and artillery.

But it looks now to me as if a column should be pushed through by that or one of those routes in conjunction with an advance up Holston Valley. I have but little hope of Sturgis being ale to reach Longstreet’s rear unaided. If he is preparing for it, as I understand from Foster he is, let him try. I supposed, going without infantry or only a mounted force, he would go by Jonesville and Estillville. This enterprise would be hazardous, but would pay well if successful. The destruction of important bridges between Bristol and Saltville and of salt-works there would compensate for great risks.

Let me know what you think and wish in this matter, so as I will know how to dispose of such new troops as I may intend to add to your command.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 129-30

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 402

“The object will be to gain possession of Dalton and as far south as possible”

I wrote Gen. Thomas with instructions to move against Dalton, Georgia instead of East Tennessee.

Nashville, Tenn.
Feby 13,1864
Maj. Gen. Geo. H. Thomas
Comdg. Dept. Cumberland
Conversation with Foster who has had much better opportunity for knowing the exact state of affairs in East Tennessee satisfies me that all that could be accomplished by the proposed campaign there would not compensate for the hardships upon our men, and the disqualifying effects it would have upon them and our war material, for a spring campaign. All orders therefore for that campaign are revoked. As you have been preparing for a move however, I deem it advisable to make one to your immediate front. The object will be to gain possession of Dalton and as far south as possible. Should you succeed in gaining possession of Dalton, leave there, or at such advanced position as you think can be held, the force necessary for it. They will have to avail themselves of the resources of the country, for subsisting so far as it will supply them, and upon teaming from the nearest point of railroad accessible.
Gen. Logan is now on his way to Chattanooga with sixteen regiments of Infantry. This will enable you to take your whole effective force from Chattanooga. On your return to Chattanooga with a part of your forces, Logan can be relieved and allowed to return to his place on the line of the road between Stevenson and Decatur.
I mark out no line for you to pursue in this expedition, but if the enemy are not much more favorable in numbers than I believe them to be, I would feel no hesitation in marching past all the force they have at Tunnell Hill and Dalton and come in on the railroad to their rear with a force from sixteen to twenty thousand effective fighting men. The Cavalry on the Hiawasse can be ordered to move at the same time towards Spring place, with directions to form a junction if possible.
Telegraph in cipher the substance of the plan you adopt and send by mail copies of your orders.
Very respectfully, &c,
U. S. Grant
Major General

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 119-20

Library of Congress, USG

“All these seem to be good reasons for abandoning the movement and I have therefore suspended it”

I had ordered Gen. Schofield in Knoxville to cooperate with Gen. Thomas in his move against Longstreet.  He replied,

KNOXVILLE, February 10, 1864.

Major-General GRANT:

I am compelled to send about 4,000 mules to Kentucky to be recruited. They will soon starve to death if kept here. This army is almost destitute of serviceable mules and artillery horses, and it would be impossible to support them here if we had them. No movement of this army can be made within the next six or eight weeks except by infantry alone and carrying their provisions. The artillery cannot move until supplied with fresh horses and forage. Longstreet’s army is in much the same condition as this. I have no fears for the safely of our present position in East Tennessee, and unless there are reasons for a speedy advance, which I do not now understand, I think it would be unwise to attempt one for the present. If, however, it is deemed necessary to drive Longstreet out of East Tennessee now, I believe it is possible to do it with 10,000 more infantry than I now have, but it will have to be done slowly, so that the railroad can be repaired to supply the troops. Please inform me what you desire me to do under the circumstances I have stated.

J. M. SCHOFIELD,

Major-General.

It appears that the supply situation still does not permit an offensive operation.  I wrote to Gen. Thomas,

NASHVILLE, February 12, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS:

Conversation with Major-General Foster has undecided me as to the propriety of the contemplated move against Longstreet. Schofield telegraphs the same views. I will take the matter into consideration the day, after further talk with Foster, and give you the conclusion arrived at. If decided that you do not go I will instruct Schofield to let Granger send off his veterans at once.

Should you not be required to go into East Tennessee, could you not make a formidable reconnaissance toward Dalton, and, if successful in driving the enemy out, occupy that place and complete the railroad up to it this winter?

GRANT,

Major-General.

I also informed Gen. Halleck,

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., February 12, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington:

GENERAL: I have got Thomas ready to move with a force of about 14,000 infantry into East Tennessee to aid the forces there in expelling Longstreet from the State. He would have started on Monday next if I had not revoked the order. My reasons for doing this are these: General Foster, who is now here (or only left this morning), says that our possession of the portion of East Tennessee in perfectly secure against all danger. The condition of the people within the rebel lines cannot be improved now after loosing all they had. Longstreet, where he is, makes more secure other parts of our possessions. Our men, from scanty clothing and short rations, are not in good condition for an advance. There are but very few animals in East Tennessee in condition to move artillery or other stores. If we move against Longstreet with an overwhelming force he will simply fall back toward Virginia until he can be re-enforced or take up an impregnable position. The country being exhausted, all our supplies will have to be carried from Knoxville the whole distance advanced. We would be obliged to advance rapidly and return soon whether the object of the expedition was accomplished or not. Longstreet, could return with impunity on the heels of our returning column, at least as far down the valley as he can supply himself from the road in his rear. Schofield telegraphs to the same effect. All these seem to be good reasons for abandoning the movement and I have therefore suspended it. Now that our men are ready for an advance, however, I have directed it to be made on Dalton, and hope to get possession of that place and hold it as a step toward a spring campaign. Our troops in East Tennessee are now clothed; rations are also accumulating. When Foster left most of the troops had ten days’ supplies, with 500 barrels of flour and forty days’ meat in store and the quantity increasing daily.

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

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 102,109-10

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 359, 373-5

“It looks now as if the Lieut. Generalcy bill was going to become a law.”

Elihu Washburne has introduced a bill to revive the rank of Lieutenant General.  This rank was last held by Winfield Scott and was retired when he resigned.  Con. Washburne intends for me to receive the promotion, but the final decision will be up to President Lincoln.  I wrote Julia,

It looks now as if the Lieut. Generalcy bill was going to become a law. If it does and is given to me, it will help my finances so much that I will be able to be much more generous in my expenditures.
… I am very well and very busy preparing and moving troops. I shall probably leave next week for Chattanooga and Knoxville. . ..
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 100-1

” It is important to … get off before the enemy can anticipate our movement and re-enforce Longstreet”

I received the following reply to my telegram from Gen. Thomas,

CHATTANOOGA, February 10, 1864.

Major-General GRANT,

Nashville:

The engineer reports that he will have the railroad, finished to Loudon on Friday next. As they are very much in need of supplies at Knoxville, I think it will be best to allow time for an accumulation there, before the troops from here move up. I will try to provide for the defense of the place by placing a division of General Logan’s corps at Chickamauga Station, and Davis’ division in front of Cleveland, to cover the railroad, taking with me Stanley’s, Johnson’s, and Baird’s divisions. Will your order the division of Logan to move to this place as soon as possible?

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.

 

I replied,

NASHVILLE, February 11, 1864-11 a.m.

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Chattanooga:

Are not steamers carrying rations to Loudon? Cannot rations enough be got ahead by Monday to warrant your starting? It is important to move without much preparation so as to get off before the enemy can anticipate our movement and re-enforce Longstreet.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

He replied,

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Chattanooga, February 11, 1864-8 p.m.

Major-General GRANT,

Nashville:

Your dispatch of 11 a.m. is received. Both railroad and steamboat are carrying subsistence and forage. The troops will be ready to move Saturday. There will be but a very small garrison left here. Major-General Foster will arrive in Nashville at 4 a.m. to-morrow.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 98, 103

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 360, 365-6

“Prepare to start for Knoxville on Saturday”

It is time to begin the reinforcement of East Tennessee.  I wrote Gen. Thomas,

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Chattanooga:

Prepare to start for Knoxville on Saturday. I will order Logan to send to Chattanooga all the troops he can and still guard his line of road. The number will probably be about 5,000 men. One division of your command will have to move out to hold the road to the Hiwassee.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 98

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 359

“We will have some sharp fighting in the spring, and if successful I believe the war will be ended within the year”

Many of our troops are nearing the end of their enlistment and will have to return home.  We must have fresh troops available to press on in the spring.  I received the following letter from Gen. Hovey, raising troops in Indiana.

I read an order on the 3rd inst from Maj Gen Heintzleman commanding the Northern Department a Copy of which is herewith enclosed—It gives me great pleasure to know that the change made in this Department will not separate me from your command for I am more than willing to share your fortunes—We have in this state about 10,000 volunteers for the new regiments now under the commandants of the different rendezvous, but the Governor has not yet organized a single regiment although I have been promised for more than three weeks that it should be done immediately—The consequence is that the men are idle, without arms and I am afraid will become greatly demoralized unless they are soon brought under rigid discipline—The Governor does not seem to be alive to the necessity of their early organization and I am fearful that his delay will prevent me from bringing them into the field prepared for your Spring Campaign. My object in writing to you is to have you write to myself or the Governor urging the early organization of these troops—There seems to be a general impression in the North that the rebellion is nearly over and I am afraid it will eventually result in injury to our cause—If you write to the Governor do not say that I have made this request—I have urged him now until I am sure he feels sore under my many importunities.

I replied,

NASHVILLE, February 9, 1864.

Brigadier General ALVIN P. HOVEY,

Indianapolis, Ind.:

The early winter we have had betokens an early spring. I am very desirous of being ready to take advantage of the first dry roads to commence a campaign. Before I can start, however, many of our veterans must return and the new levies brought into the field.

Now, general, my particular object in detailing you for the service you are now on was to have some one who knew the importance of reorganization and discipline with the new troops from their enlistment. In this way I expected to have troops ready for duty from the moment they report for duty. I wish you would urge upon Governor Morton the importance of this, and ask him for me to organize into companies and regiments all those who are to go into new regiments, and to detach those are destined to fill up old organizations, at once. We will have some sharp fighting in the spring, and if successful I believe the war will be ended within the year.

If the enemy gain temporary advantage the war will be protracted. I want 10,000 and more troops now badly. With such a number I could let my veterans go, and could drive Longstreet out of East Tennessee.

I wish you could prevail on the Governor to organize all the forces he has and send you here at once. I would keep the division together, and where by contact with old troops they would improve more in one day than in six where they are.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 96-7

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 355

National Archives, RG 393, Military Div. of the Miss., Letters Received.

“When the army moves in the spring it will have to be with less than half the transportation they have been heretofore accustomed to.”

There are two challenges we face as we look toward moving south in the Spring: logistics and reinforcements.  Gen. Thomas has made a requisition for an astonishingly large number of wagons, horses and mules.  I received the following telegram from Col. Thomas, the deputy quartermaster-general.

General Thomas has directed Col. Easton to call upon Colonel Donalson for three thousand (3000) more wagons and harness, four thousand (4000) more horses, twenty three thousand (23000) more mules, first cost four and a quarter millions—monthly addition to wages and forage, not less than half a million—Can so much be necessary—and where?

I wrote to Gen. Meigs,

NASHVILLE, February 9, 1864.

Brigadier General M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General, Washington, D. C.:

The wagons and mules called for by General Thomas are more than can be required by the four departments in my command in addition to what they have. If furnished we could not supply them nor move with such a train. I will make an order regulating transportation in a few days.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

I also wrote to Gen. Thomas.

NASHVILLE, February 9, 1864.

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Chattanooga:

When the army moves in the spring it will have to be with less than half the transportation they have been heretofore accustomed to. Much of the additional transportation required can be got by reducing that in the hands of troops left in depots and on railroad duty. It will be impossible to subsist a large wagon train, and besides they will impede the progress of armies marching over the narrow and mountainous roads of the South.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 91-3

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 354-5

National Archives, RG 393, Mil. Div. of the Mississippi, Letters Received

“I intend to drive them out or get whipped this month”

I have received reports that Gen. Johnston’s troops are being withdrawn.  This provides us with the opportunity to send reinforcements to Knoxville and drive out Longstreet.  I wrote to Gen. Thomas,

NASHVILLE, February 6, 1864-2.30 p. m.

Major-General THOMAS:

Reports of scouts make it evident that Joe Johnston has removed most of his force from your front, two divisions going to Longstreet. Longstreet has been re-enforced by troops from the East. This make it evident the enemy intends to secure East Tennessee if they can, and I intend to drive them out or get whipped this month. For this purpose you will have to detach at least 10,000 men besides Stanley’s division (more will be better). I can partly relieve the vacuum at Chattanooga by troops from Logan’s command. It will not be necessary to take artillery or wagons to Knoxville, but all the serviceable artillery horses hold be taken to use on artillery there. Six mules to each 200 men should also be taken, if you have them to spare. Let me know how soon you can start.

GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 89

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 337

“Beckwith has been dismissed for obeying my order. His position is important to him and a better man cannot be selected for it.”

“When I started on this trip it was necessary for me to have some person along who could turn dispatches into cipher, and who could also read the cipher dispatches which I was liable to receive daily and almost hourly. Under the rules of the War Department at that time, Mr. Stanton had taken entire control of the matter of regulating the telegraph and determining how it should be used, and of saying who, and who alone, should have the ciphers. The operators possessed of the ciphers, as well as the ciphers used, were practically independent of the commanders whom they were serving immediately under, and had to report to the War Department through General Stager all the dispatches which they received or forwarded.
“I was obliged to leave the telegraphic operator back at Nashville, because that was the point at which all dispatches to me would come, to be forwarded from there. As I have said, it was necessary for me also to have an operator during this inspection who had possession of this cipher to enable me to telegraph to my division and to the War Department without my dispatches being read by all the operators along the line of wires over which they were transmitted. Accordingly I ordered the cipher operator to turn over the key to Captain Cyrus B. Comstock, of the Corps of Engineers, whom I had selected as a wise and discreet man who certainly could be trusted with the cipher if the operator at my headquarters could.
“The operator refused point blank to turn over the key to Captain Comstock as directed by me, stating that his orders from the War Department were not to give it to anybody—the commanding general or any one else. I told him I would see whether he would or not. He said that if he did he would be punished. I told him if he did not he most certainly would be punished. Finally, seeing that punishment was certain if he refused longer to obey my order, and being somewhat remote (even if he was not protected altogether from the consequences of his disobedience to his orders) from the War Department, he yielded. When I returned from Knoxville I found quite a commotion. The operator had been reprimanded very severely and ordered to be relieved. I informed the Secretary of War, or his assistant secretary in charge of the telegraph, Stager, that the man could not be relieved, for he had only obeyed my orders. It was absolutely necessary for me to have the cipher, and the man would most certainly have been punished if he had not delivered it; that they would have to punish me if they punished anybody, or words to that effect.”

 

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., February 4, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

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

Your letter of the 22nd, inclosing copy of Colonel Stager’s of the 21st to you, is received. I have also circular or order, dated January 1, 1864, postmarked Washington, January 23, and received on the 29th.

I will state that Beckwith is one of the best of men. He is competent and industrious. In the matter for which he has been discharged, he only obeyed my orders and could not have done otherwise than he did and remain. Beckwith has always been employed at headquarters as an operator, and I have never thought of taking him with me except when headquarters are moved. On the occasion of my going to Knoxville, I received Washington dispatches which of my going to Knoxville, I received Washington dispatches which I could not read until my return to this place. To remedy this for the future I directed Colonel Comstock to acquaint himself with the cipher.

Beckwith desired to telegraph Colonel Stager on the subject before complying with my direction. Not knowing of any order defining who and who alone could be intrusted with the Washington cipher, I then ordered Beckwith to give it to Colonel Comstock and to inform Colonel Stager of the fact that he had done so. I had no thought in this matter of violating any order or even wish of the Secretary of War. I could see no reason why I was not as capable of selecting a proper person to instruct with this secret as Colonel Stager; in fact, thought nothing further of the matter, than that Colonel Stager had his operations under such discipline that they were afraid to obey orders from any one but himself without knowing first his pleasure.

Beckwith has been dismissed for obeying my order. His position is important to him and a better man cannot be selected for it. I respectfully ask that Beckwith be restored.

When Colonel Stager’s directions wee received here the cipher had already been communicated. His order was signed by himself and not by the Secretary of War. It is not necessary for me to state that I am no stickler for form, but will obey any order or wish of my superior, no matter how conveyed, if I know, or only think it came from them. In this instance I supposed Colonel Stager was acting for himself and without the knowledge of any one else.

I am, very respectfully, &c.,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt. XLV

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 323-4