From here we took horses and made our way by Jasper and over Waldron’s Ridge to Chattanooga. There had been much rain, and the roads were almost impassable from mud, knee-deep in places, and from wash-outs on the mountain sides. I had been on crutches since the time of my fall in New Orleans, and had to be carried over places where it was not safe to cross on horseback. The roads were strewn with the débris of broken wagons and the carcasses of thousands of starved mules and horses. At Jasper, some ten or twelve miles from Bridgeport, there was a halt. General O. O. Howard had his headquarters there. From this point I telegraphed Burnside to make every effort to secure five hundred rounds of ammunition for his artillery and small-arms. We stopped for the night at a little hamlet some ten or twelve miles farther on. The next day we reached Chattanooga a little before dark. I went directly to General Thomas’s headquarters, and remaining there a few days, until I could establish my own.
During the evening most of the general officers called in to pay their respects and to talk about the condition of affairs. They pointed out on the map the line, marked with a red or blue pencil, which Rosecrans had contemplated falling back upon. If any of them had approved the move they did not say so to me. I found General W. F. Smith occupying the position of chief engineer of the Army of the Cumberland. I had known Smith as a cadet at West Point, but had no recollection of having met him after my graduation, in 1843, up to this time. He explained the situation of the two armies and the topography of the country so plainly that I could see it without an inspection. I found that he had established a saw-mill on the banks of the river, by utilizing an old engine found in the neighborhood; and, by rafting logs from the north side of the river above, had got out the lumber and completed pontoons and roadway plank for a second bridge, one flying bridge being there already. He was also rapidly getting out the materials and constructing the boats for a third bridge. In addition to this he had far under way a steamer for plying between Chattanooga and Bridgeport whenever we might get possession of the river. This boat consisted of a scow, made of the plank sawed out at the mill, housed in, and a stern wheel attached which was propelled by a second engine taken from some shop or factory.
I sent a telegram to Gen. Halleck, telling him i had arrived.
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, October 23, 1863-9.30 p. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Have just arrived. I will write tomorrow. Please approve order placing General Sherman in command of Department and Army of the Tennessee, with headquarters in the field. I think it much preferable to leave departments as they are to consolidating the three into one.
U. S. GRANT.
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 308
O.R., I, xxxi, part 1, p 706
The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt. XL