Apparently the reports of Longstreet being reinforced were in error. I received the following from Gen. Foster.
KNOXVILLE, January 20, 1864 – 12 m.
No evidence has reached me to prove that either Ewell or A. P. Hill have re-enforced Longstreet, although scouts and deserters report troops from both corps. I am not convinced that he has received anything but the Third Division of his corps. I am doubtful of his intention to attack us here. He will certainly meet with defeat if he does. I am now moving cavalry up the south side of the French Broad to secure the forage grounds in that section. As soon as the infantry can retire from Strawberry Plains, after first taking down the bridge and sending the material here to be used in the bridge at this place, I shall send the Fourth and Twenty-third Corps to forage up the French Broad, retaining the Ninth Corps as garrison at this place, Lenoir’s, and Loudon.
J. G. FOSTER.
We may be able to go on the offensive in East Tennessee after all. I wrote Gen. Halleck,
CHATTANOOGA, TENN., January 22, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
General Foster’s last dispatch states that he thinks Longstreet had not been re-enforced from Ewell’s corps. Foster is now withdrawing from Dandridge and Strawberry Plains to cross at Knoxville and move east on south side of French Broad. I have instructed him to get ready and attack as soon as possible. With Anderson as manager of railroads we can never accumulate supplies, nor even supply full rations from day to day.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 54-5
O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 151, 171-2