It now seems clear that not only will we be unable to drive Longstreet from East Tennessee, but it also seems he is assuming the offensive. I wrote Gen. Halleck,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., January 20, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief of the Army:
GENERAL: From dispatches just received from General Foster, the siege of Knoxville is about to be renewed. It was a great oversight in the first place to have ever permitted Longstreet to come to a stop within the State of Tennessee after the siege was raised. My instructions were full and complete on this subject. Sherman was sent with forces sufficient alone to defeat Longstreet, and, notwithstanding the long distance his troops had marched, proposed to go on and carry out my instructions in full. General Burnside was sanguine that no stop would be made by the enemy in the valley. Sherman them proposed to leave any amount of force Burnside thought might be necessary to make his position perfectly secure. He deemed two division ample. These were left, numbering about 11,000 men for duty, besides Elliott’s cavalry division of about 3,000 present effective men. All this force is still with Foster. I regretted from the start that Longstreet was permitted to come to a halt in the valley, but was in hopes the judgment of General Burnside would prove correct. General Wilson nd Mr. Dana were both present at the interview between Generals Burnside and Sherman on this subject, and can give all the reasons assigned for the course pursued. My official report will be accompanied by all the dispatches and orders given to Burnside and Sherman, but I write this now more particularly to show that the latter-named officer is in no wise to blame for the existing state of affairs in East Tennessee. I feel no alarm for the safety of East Tennessee, but the presence of Longstreet has been embarrassing in forcing me to keep more troops there than would been otherwise necessary, and in preventing other movements taking place. It has also taxed some of the most loyal people in the United States to support a cause they detest.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 51-2
O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 149-50