“the enemy should be held in full belief that an advance into the heart of the South is intended”

I received the following telegram from Gen. Thomas,

TUNNEL HILL, February 26, 1864

General GRANT:

I arrived here last night. Davis and Johnson occupy the pass at Buzzard Roost. They have a force equal to theirs in their front, who outnumber them in artillery. It is not possible to carry the place by assault. Palmer made the attempt to turn it yesterday with Baird’s and Cruft’s divisions, but was met by an equal force, exclusive of their cavalry, and in an equally strong position as a Buzzard Roost. After expending nearly all his ammunition he retired during the night to Catoosa Platform. Our transportation is poor and limited. We are not able to carry more than 60 rounds per man. Artillery horses so poor that Palmer could bring but sixteen pieces. The country is stripped entirely of subsistence and forage. The enemy’s cavalry in much superior to ours. Prisoners taken yesterday report that a portion of Cleburne’s division has returned. I will await the developments of this day, and advise you further.

GEO. H. THOMAS.

I replied,

NASHVILLE, February 27, 1864-11.30 a.m.

General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Tunnel Hill:

It is of the utmost importance that the enemy should be held in full belief that an advance into the heart of the South is intended until the fate of General Sherman is fully known. The difficulties of supplies can be overcome by keeping your trains running between Chattanooga and your position. Take the depot trains at Chattanooga, yours, and General Howard’s wagons. These can be replaced temporarily by returning. Veterans are returning daily. This will enable you to draw re-enforcements constantly to your front. Can you not also take a division from Howard’s corps? General Schofield is instructed to send General Granger to you the moment it is safe to be without him.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 163

O.R., I, xxxii, part 2, p 480

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