While Thomas’ troops pursue Bragg, I will order Sherman’s troops to march to the aid of Gen. Burnside in Knoxville. I wrote Gen. Sherman,
CHATTANOOGA, November 25, 1863.
Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,
No doubt you witnessed the handsome manner in which Thomas’ troops carried Missionary Ridge this afternoon, and can feel a just pride, too, in the part taken by the forces under your command in taking, first, so much of the same range of hills, and then in attracting the attention of so many of the enemy as to make Thomas’ part certain of success. The next thing now will be to relieve Burnside. I have heard from his to the evening of the 23d. At that time he had from ten to twelve days’ supplies, and spoke hopefully of being able to hold out that length of time. My plan is to move your forces out gradually, until they reach the railroad between Cleveland and Dalton. Granger will move up the south side of the Tennessee with a column of 20,000 men, taking no wagons, or but few, with him. His men will carry four days’ rations with them, and the steamer Chattanooga, loaded with rations, will accompany the expedition. I take it for granted that Bragg’s entire force has left. If not, of course the first, thing is to dispose of him. If he has gone, the only thing necessary to do to-morrow will be to send out a reconnaissance to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy.
U. S. GRANT,
P. S.-On reflection, I think we will push Bragg with all our strength to-morrow, and try if we cannot off a good portion of his new troops and trains. His men have manifested a strong desire to desert for some time past, and we will now give them a chance. I will instruct Thomas accordingly. Move the advance force early on the most easterly road taken by the enemy.
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 451-2
O.R., I, xxxi, part 2, p 45-6