Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V2 by Jacob Dolson Cox

Steve Schulze, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. This file was produced from images generously made available by the CWRU Preservation Department Digital Library. MILITARY REMINISCENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR BY JACOB DOLSON COX, A.M., LL.D. _Formerly Major-General commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps_ VOLUME II. NOVEMBER 1863-JUNE 1865 CONTENTS CHAPTER XXVII GRANT IN COMMAND–ROSECRANS
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Steve Schulze, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

This file was produced from images generously made available by the CWRU

Preservation Department Digital Library.



_Formerly Major-General commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps_






Importance of unity in command–Inevitable difficulties in a double organization–Burnside’s problem different from that of Rosecrans–Co-operation necessarily imperfect–Growth of Grant’s reputation–Solid grounds of it–Special orders sent him–Voyage to Cairo–Meets Stanton at Louisville–Division of the Mississippi created–It included Burnside’s and Rosecrans’s departments–Alternate forms in regard to Rosecrans–He is relieved–Thomas succeeds him–Grant’s relations to the change–His intellectual methods–Taciturnity–Patience–Discussions in his presence–Clear judgments–His “good anecdote”–Rosecrans sends Garfield to Washington–Congressman or General–Duplication of offices–Interview between Garfield and Stanton–Dana’s dispatches–Garfield’s visit to me–Description of the rout of Rosecrans’s right wing–Effect on the general–Retreat to Chattanooga–Lookout Mountain abandoned–The President’s problem–Dana’s light upon it–Stanton’s use of it–Grant’s acquiescence–Subsequent relations of Garfield and Rosecrans–Improving the “cracker line”–Opening the Tennessee–Combat at Wauhatchie.



Departments not changed by Grant–Sherman assigned to that of the Tennessee–Burnside’s situation and supplies–His communications–Building a railroad–Threatened from Virginia–His plans–Bragg sends Longstreet into East Tennessee–Their cross-purposes–Correspondence of Grant and Burnside–Dana and Wilson sent to consult–Grant approves Burnside’s course–Latter slowly retires on Knoxville–The place prepared for a siege–Combat at Campbell’s station–Within the lines at Knoxville–Topography of the place–Defences–Assignment of positions–The forts–General Sanders killed–His self-sacrifice–Longstreet’s lines of investment–His assault of Fort Sanders–The combat–The repulse–The victory at Missionary Ridge and results–Division of Confederate forces a mistake–Grant sends Sherman to raise the siege of Knoxville–East Tennessee a “horror”–Longstreet retreats toward Virginia–Sherman rejoins Grant–Granger’s unwillingness to remain–General Foster sent to relieve Burnside–Criticism of this act–Halleck’s misunderstanding of the real situation–Grant’s easy comprehension of it–His conduct in enlarged responsibility–General Hunter’s inspection report.



Administrative duties–Major McLean adjutant-general–His loyalty questioned–Ordered away–Succeeded by Captain Anderson–Robert Anderson’s family–Vallandigham canvass–Bounty-jumping–Action of U. S. Courts–of the local Probate Court–Efforts to provoke collision–Interview with the sheriff–Letter to Governor Tod–Shooting soldiers in Dayton–The October election–Great majority against Vallandigham–The soldier vote–Wish for field service–Kinglake’s Crimean War–Its lessons–Confederate plots in Canada–Attempt on military prison at Johnson’s Island–Assembling militia there–Fortifying Sandusky Bay–Inspection of the prison–Condition and treatment of the prisoners.



Ordered to East Tennessee–Preparation for a long ride–A small party of officers–Rendezvous at Lexington, Ky.–Changes in my staff–The escort–A small train–A gay cavalcade–The blue-grass country–War-time roads–Valley of the Rockcastle–Quarters for the night–London–Choice of routes-Longstreet in the way–A turn southward–Williamsburg–Meeting Burnside–Fording the Cumberland–Pine Mountain–A hard pull–Teamsters’ chorus–Big Creek Gap–First view of East Tennessee–Jacksboro–A forty-mile trot–Escape from unwelcome duty–In command of Twenty-third Corps–The army-supply problem–Siege bread–Starved beef–Burnside’s dinner to Sherman.



Blain’s Cross-roads–Hanson’s headquarters–A hearty welcome–Establishing field quarters–Tents and houses–A good quartermaster–Headquarters’ business–Soldiers’ camps–Want of clothing and shoes–The rations–Running the country mills–Condition of horses and mules–Visit to Opdycke’s camp–A Christmas dinner–Veteran enlistments–Patriotic spirit–Detachment at Strawberry Plains–Concentration of corps there–Camp on a knoll–A night scene–Climate of the valley–Affair at Mossy Creek–New Year’s blizzard–Pitiful condition of the troops–Patience and courage–Zero weather.



Grant at Knoxville–Comes to Strawberry Plains–A gathering at Parke’s quarters–Grant’s quiet manner–No conversational discussion–Contrast with Sherman–Talk of cadet days–Grant’s riding-school story–No council of war–Qualities of his dispatches–Returns by Cumberland Gap–Longstreet’s situation–Destitution of both armies–Railroad repairs and improved service–Light-draught steamboats–Bridges–Cattle herds on the way–Results of Grant’s inspection tour–Foster’s movement to Dandridge on the French Broad–Sheridan–His qualities–August Willich–Hazen–His disagreement with Sheridan–Its causes and consequences–Combat at Dandridge–A mutual surprise–Sheridan’s bridge–An amusing blunder–A consultation in Dandridge–Sturgis’s toddy–Retreat to Strawberry Plains–A hard night march–A rough day–An uncomfortable bivouac–Concentration toward Knoxville–Rumors of reinforcement of Longstreet–Expectation of another siege–The rumors untrue.



Sending our animals to Kentucky–Consultations–Affair with enemy’s cavalry–Roughing it–Distribution of troops–Cavalry engagement at Sevierville–Quarters in Knoxville–Leading Loyalists–Social and domestic conditions–Discussion of the spring campaign–Of Foster’s successor–Organization of Grant’s armies–Embarrassments in assignment of officers to duty–Discussion of the system-Cipher telegraphing–Control of the key–Grant’s collision with Stanton–Absurdity of the War Department’s method–General Stoneman assigned to Twenty-third Corps–His career and character–General Schofield succeeds to the command of the Department of the Ohio.



Fresh reports of Longstreet’s advance–They are unfounded–Grant’s wish to rid the valley of the enemy–Conference with Foster–Necessity for further recuperation of the army–Continuance of the quiet policy–Longstreet’s view of the situation–His suggestions to his government–He makes an advance again-Various demonstrations–Schofield moves against Longstreet–My appointment as chief of staff in the field–Organization of the active column–Schofield’s purposes–March to Morristown–Going the Grand Rounds–Cavalry outpost–A sleepy sentinel–Return to New Market–Once more at Morristown–Ninth Corps sent East–Grant Lieutenant-General–Sherman commands in the West–Study of plans of campaign–My assignment to Third Division, Twenty-third Corps–Importance of staff duties–Colonel Wherry and Major Campbell–General Wood–Schofield and the politicians–Post at Bull’s Gap–Grapevine telegraph–Families going through the lines–Local vendetta–The Sanitary Commission–Rendezvous assigned by Sherman–Preliminary movements–Marching to Georgia–A spring camp on the Hiwassee–The Atlanta campaign begun.



Grant’s desire for activity in the winter–Scattering to live–Subordinate movements–The Meridian expedition–Use of the Mississippi–Sherman’s estimate of it–Concentration to be made in the spring–Grant joins the Potomac Army–Motives in doing so–Meade as an army commander–Halleck on concentration–North Carolina expedition given up–Burnside to join Grant–Old relations of Sherman and Halleck–Present cordial friendship–Frank correspondence–The supply question–Railway administration–Bridge defences–Reduction of baggage–Tents–Sherman on spies and deserters–Changes in Confederate army–Bragg relieved–Hardee–Beauregard–Johnston–Davis’s suggestion of plans–Correspondence with Johnston–Polk’s mediation–Characteristics–Bragg’s letters–Lee writes Longstreet–Johnston’s dilatory discussion–No results–Longstreet joins Lee–Grant and Sherman have the initiative–Prices in the Confederacy.



The opposing forces–North Georgia
triangle–Topography–Dalton–Army of the Ohio enters Georgia–Positions of the other armies–Turning Tunnel Hill–First meeting with Sherman–Thomas–Sherman’s plan as to Dalton–McPherson’s orders and movement–Those of Thomas and Schofield–Hopes of a decisive engagement–Thomas attacks north end of Rocky Face–Opdycke on the ridge–Developing Johnston’s lines–Schofield’s advance on 9th May–The flanking march through Snake Creek Gap–Retiring movement of my division–Passing lines–Johnston’s view of the situation–Use of temporary intrenchments and barricades–Passing the Snake Creek defile-Camp Creek line–A wheel in line–Rough march of left flank–Battle of Resaca–Crossing Camp Creek–Storming Confederate line–My division relieved by Newton’s–Incidents–Further advance of left flank–Progress of right flank–Johnston retreats.



Tactics modified by character of the country–Use of the spade–Johnston’s cautious defensive–Methods of Grant and Sherman–Open country between Oostanaula and Etowah–Movement in several columns–Sherman’s eagerness–Route of left wing–Of McPherson on the right–Necessity of exact system in such marches–Route of Twenty-third Corps–Hooker gets in the way–Delays occasioned–Closing in on Cassville–Our commanding position–Johnston’s march to Cassville–His order to fight there–Protest of Hood and Polk–Retreat over the Etowah–Sherman crosses near Kingston–My reconnoissance to the Allatoona crossing–Destruction of iron works and mills–Marching without baggage–Barbarism of war–Desolation it causes–Changes in our corps organization–Hascall takes Judah’s division–Our place of crossing the Etowah–Interference again–Kingston the new base–Rations–Camp coffee.



Sherman’s plan for June–Movements of 24th May-Johnston’s position at Dallas and New Hope Church–We concentrate to attack–Pickett’s Mill–Dallas–Flanking movements–Method developed by the character of the country–Closer personal relations to Sherman–Turning Johnston’s right–Crossroads at Burnt Church-A tangled forest–Fighting in a thunderstorm–Sudden freshet–Bivouac in a thicket—Johnston retires to a new line–Formidable character of the old one–Sherman extends to the railroad on our left–Blair’s corps joins the army–General Hovey’s retirement–The principles involved–Politics and promotions.



Continuous rains in June–Allatoona made a field depot on the railway and fortified–Johnston in the Marietta lines–That from Pine Mountain to Lost Mountain abandoned–Swinging our right flank–Affair at Kolb’s farm–Preparing for a general attack–Battle of Kennesaw-The tactical problem–Work of my division–Topography about Cheney’s–Our advance on the 27th–Nickajack valley reached–The army moves behind us–Johnston retreats to the Chattahoochee–Twenty-third Corps at Smyrna Camp-ground–Crossing the Chattahoochee at Soap Creek–At Roswell–Johnston again retreats–Correspondence with Davis–Mission of B. H. Hill–Visit of Bragg to Johnston–Johnston’s unfortunate reticence–He is relieved and Hood placed in command–Significance of the change to the Confederacy and to us.



Lines of supply by field trains–Canvas pontoons–Why replaced by bridges–Wheeling toward Atlanta–Battle of Peachtree Creek–Battle of Atlanta–Battle of Ezra Church–Aggressive spirit of Confederates exhausted–Sherman turns Atlanta by the south–Pivot position of Twenty-third Corps–Hood’s illusions–Rapidity of our troops in intrenching–Movements of 31st August–Affair at Jonesboro–Atlanta won–Morale of Hood’s army–Exaggerating difference in numbers–Examination of returns–Efforts to bring back absentees–The sweeping conscription–Sherman’s candid estimates–Unwise use of cavalry–Forrest’s work–Confederate estimate of Sherman’s campaign.



Position of the Army of the Ohio at Decatur–Refitting for a new campaign–Depression of Hood’s army–Sherman’s reasons for a temporary halt–Fortifying Atlanta as a new base–Officers detailed for the political campaign-Schofield makes inspection tour of his department–My temporary command of the Army of the Ohio–Furloughs and leaves of absence–Promotions of several colonels–General Hascall resigns–Staff changes–My military family–Anecdote of Lieutenant Tracy–Discipline of the army–Sensitiveness to approval or blame–Illustration–Example of skirmishing advance–Sufferings of non-combatants within our lines–A case in point–Pillaging and its results–Citizens passing through the lines–“The rigors of the climate”–Visit of Messrs. Hill and Foster–McPherson’s death–The loss to Sherman and to the army–His personal traits–Appointment of his successor.



Hood’s plan to transfer the campaign to northern Georgia–Made partly subordinate to Beauregard–Forrest on a raid–Sherman makes large detachments–Sends Thomas to Tennessee–Hood across the Chattahoochee–Sherman follows–Affair at Allatoona–Planning the March to the Sea–Sherman at Rome–Reconnoissance down the Coosa–Hood at Resaca–Sherman in pursuit–Hood retreats down the Chattooga valley–We follow in two columns–Concentrate at Gaylesville–Beauregard and Hood at Gadsden–Studying the situation–Thomas’s advice–Schofield rejoins–Conference regarding the Twenty-third Corps–Hood marches on Decatur–His explanation of change of plan–Sherman marches back to Rome–We are ordered to join Thomas–Hood repulsed at Decatur marches to Tuscumbia–Our own march begun–Parting with Sherman–Dalton–Chattanooga–Presidential election–Voting by steam–Retrospect of October camp-life–Camp sports–Soldiers’ pets–Story of a lizard.



Schofield to command the army assembled at Pulaski–Forrest’s Tennessee River raid–Schofield at Johnsonville–My division at Thompson’s–Hastening reinforcements to Thomas–Columbia–The barrens–Pulaski–Hood delays–Suggests Purdy as a base–He advances from Florence–Our march to Columbia–Thomas’s distribution of the forces–Decatur evacuated–Pontoon bridge there–Withdrawing from Columbia–Posts between Nashville and Chattanooga–The cavalry on 29th November–Their loss of touch with the army.



Defensive works of Nashville–Hood’s lines–The ice blockade–Halleck on remounts for cavalry–Pressing horses and its abuse–The cavalry problem–Changes in organization–Assignment of General Couch–Confederate cavalry at Nashville–Counter-movements of our own–Detailed movements of our right–Difference of recollection between Schofield and Wilson–The field dispatches–Carrying Hood’s works–Confederate rout.



Night after the battle–Unusual exposure–Hardships of company officers–Bad roads–Halt at Franklin–Visiting the battlefield–Continued pursuit–Decatur reoccupied–Hood at Tupelo, Miss.–Summary of captures–Thomas suggests winter-quarters–Grant orders continued activity–Schofield’s proposal to move the corps to the East–Grant’s correspondence with Sherman–Schofield’s suggestion adopted–Illness–I ask for “sick-leave”–Do not use it–Promotion–Reinforcements–March from Columbia to Clifton–Columns on different roads–Western part of the barrens–Fording Buffalo River–An illumined camp–Dismay of the farmer–Clifton on the Tennessee–Admiral Lee–Methods of transport–Weary waiting–Private grumbling–Ordered East–Revulsion of spirits–On the transport fleet–Thomas’s frame of mind at close of the campaign.



Rendezvous at Washington–Capture of Fort Fisher–Schofield ordered to North Carolina–Grant and Schofield visit Terry–Department of North Carolina–Army of the Ohio in the field–Correspondence of Grant and Sherman–Sherman conscious of his risks but hopeful of great results–His plan of march from Savannah–Relation of Wilmington to New Berne–Our arrival at Washington–The Potomac frozen–Peace conference at Fort Monroe–Interview with Mr. Stanton–The thirteenth amendment of the Constitution–Political excitement at the capital–A little dinner-party–Garfield, H. W. Davis, and Schenck–Davis on Lincoln–Destination of our army–Embarkation–Steamship “Atlantic”–Visit to Fort Monroe–The sea-voyage–Cape Fear Inlet–General Terry’s lines–Bragg the Confederate commander–Reconnoitring his lines–The colored troops–“Monitor” engaged with Fort Anderson–Alternate plans–Marching on Wilmington by the west bank of the river–My column opposite the town–Orders not applicable to the situation–Difficulty of communication–Use of discretion–Wilmington evacuated–A happy result.



The Confederates lose Charleston and Columbia–Facing a crisis–Hopeless apathy of Southern people–Mr. Davis’s perplexity–Beauregard startles him–Lee calls Johnston to command–Personal relations of leading officers–Dwindling armies–The cavalry–Assignments of generals–The Beaufort and New Berne line–Am ordered to New Berne–Provisional corps–Advance to cover railway building–Dover and Gum swamps–Bragg concentrates to oppose us–Position near Kinston–Bragg’s plan of attack–Our own movements–Condition of railroad and river–Our advance to Wise’s Forks and Southwest Creek–Precautions–Conference with Schofield–Battle of Kinston–Enemy attack our left front–Rout of Upham’s brigade–Main line firm–Ruger’s division reaches the field Enemy repulsed–End of first day’s fight–Extending our trenches on the left–Sharp skirmishing of the 9th–Bragg’s reinforcements–His attack of the 10th–Final repulse and retreat of the enemy.



Occupation of Kinston–Opening of Neuse River–Rebel ram destroyed–Listening to the distant battle at Bentonville–Entering Goldsborough–Meeting Sherman–Grant’s congratulations–His own plans–Sketch of Sherman’s march–Lee and Johnston’s correspondence–Their gloomy outlook–Am made commandant of Twenty-third Corps–Terry assigned to Tenth–Schofield promoted in the Regular Army–Stanton’s proviso–Ill effects of living on the country–Stopping it in North Carolina–Camp jubilee over the fall of Richmond–Changes in Sherman’s plans–Our march on Smithfield–House-burning–News of Lee’s surrender–Overtures from Governor Vance–Entering Raleigh–A mocking-bird’s greeting–Further negotiations as to North Carolina–Johnston proposes an armistice–Broader scope of negotiations–The Southern people desire peace–Terrors of non-combatants assuaged–News of Lincoln’s assassination–Precautions to preserve order–The dawn of peace.



Sherman’s earlier views of the slavery question–Opinions in 1864–War rights vs. statesmanship–Correspondence with Halleck–Conference with Stanton at Savannah–Letter to General Robert Anderson–Conference with Lincoln at City Point–First effect of the assassination of the President–Situation on the Confederate side–Davis at Danville–Cut off from Lee–Goes to Greensborough–Calls Johnston to conference–Lee’s surrender–The Greensborough meeting–Approach of Stoneman’s cavalry raid–Vance’s deputation to Sherman–Davis orders their arrest–Vance asserts his loyalty–Attempts to concentrate Confederate forces on the Greensborough-Charlotte line–Cabinet meeting–Overthrow of the Confederacy acknowledged–Davis still hopeful–Yields to the cabinet–Dictates Johnston’s letter to Sherman–Sherman’s reply–Meeting arranged–Sherman sends preliminary correspondence to Washington–The Durham meeting–The negotiations–Two points of difficulty–Second day’s session–Johnston’s power to promise the disbanding of the civil government–The terms agreed upon–Transmittal letters–Assembling the Virginia legislature–Sherman’s wish to make explicit declaration of the end of slavery–The assassination affecting public sentiment–Sherman’s personal faith in Johnston–He sees the need of modifying the terms–Grant’s arrival.



Davis’s last cabinet meeting–Formal opinions approving the “Basis”–“The Confederacy is conquered”–Grant brings disapproval from the Johnston administration–Sherman gives notice of the termination of the truce–No military disadvantage from it–Sherman’s vindication of himself–Grant’s admirable conduct–Johnston advises Davis to yield–Capitulation assented to, but a volunteer cavalry force to accompany Davis’s flight–A new conference at Durham–Davis’s imaginary treasure–Grant’s return to Washington–Terms of the parole given by Johnston’s army–The capitulation complete–Schofield and his army to carry out the details–The rest of Sherman’s army marches north–His farewell to Johnston–Order announcing the end of the war–Johnston’s fine reply–Stanton’s strange dispatch to the newspapers–Its tissue of errors–Its baseless objections–Sherman’s exasperation–Interference with his military authority over his subordinates–Garbling Grant’s dispatch–Sherman strikes back–Breach between Sherman and Halleck–It also grew out of the published matter–Analysis of the facts–My opinion as recorded at the time.



General Schofield’s policy when left in command–Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in force–Davis’s line of flight from Charlotte, N. C.–Wade Hampton’s course of conduct–Fate of the cabinet officers–Bragg, Wheeler, and Cooper–Issuing paroles to Johnston and his army–Greensborough in my district–Going there with Schofield–Hardee meets and accompanies us–Comparing memories–We reach Johnston’s headquarters–Condition of his army–Our personal interview with him–The numbers of his troops–His opinion of Sherman’s army–Of the murder of Lincoln–Governor Morehead’s home–The men in gray march homeward–Incident of a flag–The Salisbury prison site–Treatment of prisoners of war–Local government in the interim–Union men–Elements of new strife–The negroes–Household service–Wise dealing with the labor question–No money–Death of manufactures–Necessity the mother of invention–Uses of adversity–Peace welcomed–Visit to Greene’s battle-field at Guilford-Old-Court-House.






Importance of unity in command–Inevitable difficulties in a double organization–Burnside’s problem different from that of Rosecrans–Cooperation necessarily imperfect–Growth of Grant’s reputation–Solid grounds of it–Special orders sent him–Voyage to Cairo–Meets Stanton at Louisville–Division of the Mississippi created–It included Burnside’s and Rosecrans’s departments–Alternate forms in regard to Rosecrans–He is relieved–Thomas succeeds him–Grant’s relations to the change–His intellectual methods–Taciturnity–Patience–Discussions in his presence–Clear judgments–His “good anecdote”–Rosecrans sends Garfield to Washington–Congressman or General–Duplication of offices–Interview between Garfield and Stanton–Dana’s dispatches–Garfield’s visit to me–Description of the rout of Rosecrans’s right wing–Effect on the general–Retreat to Chattanooga–Lookout Mountain abandoned–The President’s problem–Dana’s light upon it–Stanton’s use of it–Grant’s acquiescence–Subsequent relations of Garfield and Rosecrans–Improving the “cracker line”–Opening the Tennessee–Combat at Wauhatchie.

It is very evident that, at the close of September, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stanton had become satisfied that a radical change must be made in the organization of the Western armies. The plan of sending separate armies to co-operate, as Rosecrans’s and Burnside’s had been expected to do, was in itself vicious. It is, after a fashion, an attempt of two to ride a horse without one of them riding behind. Each will form a plan for his own army, as indeed he ought to do, and when one of them thinks the time has come for help from the other, that other may be out of reach or committed to operations which cannot readily be dropped. It is almost axiomatic that in any one theatre of operations there must be one head to direct. [Footnote: Napoleon used to ridicule the vicious practice of subdividing armies in the same theatre of war. He called it putting them up in small parcels, “_des petits paquets_.” Memoirs of Gouvion St.-Cyr, vol. iv.] In the present case it ought to have been evident to the authorities at Washington that as soon as Burnside occupied East Tennessee, both distance and the peculiar conditions of his problem would forbid any efficient cooperation with Rosecrans. The latter was the junior in rank, and knew that, whatever might be Burnside’s generosity, there were many possible contingencies in such a campaign in which the War Department might find it the easy solution of a difficulty to direct the senior officer to assume the command of both armies. So long as matters went well, Rosecrans had little or no communication with Burnside; but as soon as the enemy began to show a bold front, he became impatient for assistance. The perplexities of his own situation made him blind to those of Burnside. This is human nature, and was, no doubt, true of both in varying degrees. Halleck, at Washington, was in no true sense a commander of the armies. He had given peremptory orders to advance in June and again in July, but when asked whether this relieved the subordinate of responsibility and took away his discretion, could make no distinct answer. The unpleasant relations thus created necessarily affected the whole campaign. Halleck hesitated to advise a halt when he learned that Longstreet had gone to reinforce Bragg, and Rosecrans dreaded the blame of halting without such suggestion. So the battle had to be fought, and the ill consequences had to be repaired afterward as best they could.

The official correspondence of the summer shows a constantly growing faith in Grant. His great success at Vicksburg gave him fame and prestige, but there was beside this a specific effect produced on the President and the War Department by his unceasing activity, his unflagging zeal, his undismayed courage. He was as little inclined to stop as they at Washington were inclined to have him. He was as ready to move as they were to ask it, and anticipated their wish. He took what was given him and did the best he could with it. The result was that the tone adopted toward him was very different from that used with any other commander. It was confidently assumed that he was doing all that was possible, and there was no disposition to worry him with suggestions or orders.

When the operations in the Mississippi valley were reduced to secondary importance by the surrender of Vicksburg, it was certain that Grant would be called to conduct one of the great armies which must still make war upon the rebellion. In a visit to New Orleans to consult with Banks, he had been lamed by a fractious horse and was disabled for some days. As soon as he was able to ride in an ambulance he was on duty, and was assured by General Halleck that plenty of work would be cut out for him as soon as he was fully recovered. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt. iv. p. 274.] At the beginning of October he was ordered to take steamboat and go to Cairo, where he would find special instructions. This dispatch reached him on the 9th, and the same day he sailed for Cairo, arriving there on the 16th, when he learned that an officer of the War Department would meet him at Louisville. Hastening to Louisville by rail, he met Mr. Stanton himself, who had travelled _incognito_ from Washington. The Secretary of War produced the formal orders which had been drawn at the War Department creating the Division of the Mississippi, which included Rosecrans’s, Burnside’s, and his own departments, and put him in supreme command of all. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 404.] The order was drawn in two forms, one relieving Rosecrans and putting Thomas in command of the Department of the Cumberland, and the other omitting this. After consultation with Mr. Stanton, the order relieving Rosecrans was issued and Grant published his own assumption of command. His staff had accompanied him, on a hint contained in an earlier dispatch, and after a day spent with the Secretary of War (October 18-19) he immediately proceeded to Chattanooga. He was hardly able to mount a horse, and when on foot had to get about on crutches.

It has been commonly assumed that the choice whether he would remove Rosecrans was submitted to Grant as a personal question affecting his relations with his subordinates, and that he decided it on the ground of his dislike of Rosecrans. The records of the official correspondence seem to me to show the fact rather to be that Rosecrans’s removal was thought best by the Secretary, the doubt being whether Grant would prefer to retain him instead of meeting the embarrassments incident to so important a change in the organization of the beleaguered army. Grant was always disposed to work with the tools he had, and through his whole military career showed himself averse to meddling much with the organization of his army. He had strong likes and dislikes, but was very reticent of his expression of them. He would quietly take advantage of vacancies or of circumstances to put men where he wanted them, but very rarely made sweeping reorganization. If any one crossed him or became antagonistic without open insubordination, he would bear with it till an opportunity came to get rid of the offender. He hated verbal quarrelling, never used violent language, but formed his judgments and bided his time for acting on them. This sometimes looked like a lack of frankness, and there were times when a warm but honest altercation would have cleared the air and removed misunderstandings. It was really due to a sort of shyness which was curiously blended with remarkable faith in himself. From behind his wall of taciturnity he was on the alert to see what was within sight, and to form opinions of men and things that rooted fast and became part of his mental constitution. He sometimes unbent and would talk with apparent freedom and ease; but, so far as I observed, it was in the way of narrative or anecdote, and almost never in the form of discussion or comparison of views. It used to be said that during the Vicksburg campaign he liked to have Sherman and McPherson meet at his tent, and would manage to set them to discussing the military situation. Sherman would be brilliant and trenchant; McPherson would be politely critical and intellectual; Rawlins would break in occasionally with some blunt and vigorous opinion of his own: Grant sat impassable and dumb in his camp-chair, smoking; but the lively discussion stimulated his strong commonsense, and gave him more assured confidence in the judgments and conclusions he reached. He sometimes enjoyed with a spice of real humor the mistaken assumption of fluent men that reticent ones lack brains. I will venture to illustrate it by an anecdote of a date subsequent to the war. One day during his presidency, he came into the room where his cabinet was assembling, quietly laughing to himself. “I have just read,” said he, “one of the best anecdotes I have ever met. It was that John Adams after he had been President was one day taking a party out to dinner, at his home in Quincy, when one of his guests noticed a portrait over the door and said, ‘You have a fine portrait of Washington there, Mr. Adams!’ ‘Yes,’ was the reply, ‘and that old wooden head made his fortune by keeping his mouth shut;'” and Grant laughed again with uncommon enjoyment. The apocryphal story gained a permanent interest in Grant’s mouth, for though he showed no consciousness that it could have any application to himself, he evidently thought that keeping the mouth shut was not enough in itself to ensure fortune, and at any rate was not displeased at finding such a ground of sympathy with the Father of his country. Grant’s telling the story seemed to me, under the circumstances, infinitely more amusing than the original.

During the month which followed the battle of Chickamauga, Rosecrans had elaborated his report of the campaign. On the 15th of October he ordered General Garfield to proceed to Washington with it and to explain personally to the Secretary of the War and the General-in-Chief the details of the actual condition of the army, its lines of communication, the scarcity of supplies and especially of forage for horses and mules, with all other matters which would assist the War Department in fully appreciating the situation. Garfield’s term as member of Congress began with the 4th of March preceding, but the active session would only commence on the first Monday of December. There was some doubt as to the status of army officers who were elected to Congress. General Frank P. Blair had been elected as well as Garfield, and it was in Blair’s case that the issue was made by those who objected to the legality of what they called a duplication of offices. Later in the session of Congress it was settled that the two commissions were incompatible, and that one must choose between them. Blair resigned his seat at Washington and returned to Sherman’s army. Garfield, who had found camp life a cause of oft-recurring and severe disease of his digestive system, resigned his army commission and retained his place in Congress. When he left Rosecrans, however, he was still hopeful that the two duties might be found consistent, and looked forward to further military employment.

On his way to Nashville, Garfield made a careful inspection of the road to Jasper and Bridgeport, and reported it with recommendations for the improvement of the transportation service. He arrived at Nashville on the 19th of October, and was met by the rumor that the Secretary of War and General Grant were at Louisville, and that Grant would come down the road by special train next day. He telegraphed the news to Rosecrans with the significant question, What does it mean? Rosecrans knew what it meant, for Grant’s order assuming command and relieving him had been earlier telegraphed to him, and he had already penned his dignified and appropriate farewell order to the Army of the Cumberland.

Mr. Stanton awaited Garfield’s coming at Louisville, and there was a full and frank interview between them. The order relieving Rosecrans ended Garfield’s official connection with him, and, even if it had not been so, it would have been his duty to make no concealments in answering the earnest and eager cross-questioning of the Secretary. Mr. Stanton had not only had dispatches full of information from General Meigs, who now also met him at Louisville, but his assistant, Mr. Charles A. Dana, had gone early to Chattanooga, had been present at the battle of Chickamauga, and had there some perilous experiences of his own. Dana was still with Rosecrans, and had sent to the Secretary a series of cipher dispatches giving a vivid interior view of affairs and of men. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt. i. pp. 220, etc.; vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 69-74, 265; pt. ii. pp. 52-70.] The talented journalist had known how to give his communications the most lively effect, and they had great weight with the Secretary. They were not always quite just, for they were written at speed under the spell of first impressions, and necessarily under the influence of army acquaintances in whom he had confidence. There is, however, no evidence that he was predisposed to judge harshly of Rosecrans, and the unfavorable conclusions he reached were echoed in Mr. Stanton’s words and acts. [Footnote: Since this was written Mr. Dana has published his Recollections, based on his dispatches, but the omissions make it still important to read the originals.] The Secretary of War was consequently prepared to show such knowledge of the battle of Chickamauga and the events which followed it, that it would be impossible for Garfield to avoid mention of incidents which bore unfavorably upon Rosecrans. He might have been silent if Mr. Stanton had not known so well how to question him, but when he found how full the information of the Secretary was, his duty as a military subordinate coincided with his duty as a responsible member of Congress, and he discussed without reserve the battle and its results. Mr. Stanton also questioned General Steedman, who was on his way home, and wrote to his assistant in Washington for the information of the President, that his interview with these officers more than confirmed the worst that had reached him from other sources as to the conduct of Rosecrans, and the strongest things he had heard of the credit due to Thomas. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 684.]

Garfield came from Louisville to Cincinnati, where I was on duty at headquarters of my district, and found me, as may easily be believed, full of intense interest in the campaign. I had been kept informed of all that directly affected Burnside, my immediate chief, but my old acquaintance with Rosecrans and sincere personal regard for him made me desire much more complete information touching his campaign than was given the public. Garfield’s own relations to it were hardly less interesting to me, and our intimacy was such that our thoughts at that time were common property. He spent a day with me, and we talked far into the night, going over the chief points of the campaign and his interview with Mr. Stanton. His friendship for Rosecrans amounted to warm affection and very strong personal liking. Yet I found he had reached the same judgment of his mental qualities and his capacity as a commander which I had formed at an earlier day. Rosecrans’s perceptions were acute and often intuitively clear. His fertility was great. He lacked poise, however, and the steadiness of will necessary to handle great affairs successfully. Then there was the fatal defect of the liability to be swept away by excitement and to lose all efficient control of himself and of others in the very crisis when complete self-possession is the essential quality of a great general.

We sat alone in my room, face to face, at midnight, as Garfield described to me the scene on the 20th of September on the battlefield, when through the gap in the line made by the withdrawal of Wood’s division the Confederates poured. He pictured the astonishment of all who witnessed it, the doubt as to the evidence of their own senses; the effort of Sheridan further to the right to change front and strike the enemy in flank; the hesitation of the men; the wavering and then the breaking of the right wing into a panic-stricken rout, each man running for life to the Dry Valley road, thinking only how he might reach Chattanooga before the enemy should overtake him, officers and men swept along in that most hopeless of mobs, a disorganized army. He described the effort of Rosecrans and the staff to rally the fugitives and to bring a battery into action, under a shower of flying bullets and crashing shells. It failed, for men were as deaf to reason in their mad panic as would be a drove of stampeded cattle. What was needed was a fresh and well-organized division to cover the rout, to hold back the enemy, and to give time for rallying the fugitives. But no such division was at hand, and the rush to the rear could not be stayed. The enemy was already between the headquarters group and Brannan’s division which Wood had joined, and these, throwing back the right flank, were presenting a new front toward the west, where Longstreet, preventing his men from pursuing too far, turned his energies to the effort to break the curved line of which Thomas at the Snodgrass house was the centre.

The staff and orderlies gathered about Rosecrans and tried to make their way out of the press. With the conviction that nothing more could be done, mental and physical weakness seemed to overcome the general. He rode silently along, abstracted, as if he neither saw nor heard. Garfield went to him and suggested that he be allowed to try to make his way by Rossville to Thomas, the sound of whose battle seemed to indicate that he was not yet broken. Rosecrans assented listlessly and mechanically. As Garfield told it to me, he leaned forward, bringing his excited face close to mine, and his hand came heavily down upon my knee as in whispered tones he described the collapse of nerve and of will that had befallen his chief. The words burned themselves into my memory.

Garfield called for volunteers to accompany him, but only a single orderly with his personal aide-de-camp followed him; and he made his way to the right, passed through the gap at Rossville, saw Granger, who was preparing to move Steedman’s division to the front, and rode on to join Thomas, running the gantlet of the enemy’s fire as he passed near them on the Kelley farm. He never tired of telling of the calm and quiet heroism of Thomas, holding his position on the horse-shoe ridge till night put an end to the fighting, and then retiring in perfect order to the Rossville Gap, to which he was ordered. This part of the story has been made familiar to all. An eyewitness has told how, when Rosecrans reached Chattanooga, he had to be helped from his horse. His nerves were exhausted by the strain he had undergone, and only gradually recovered from the shock. [Footnote: Cist, The Army of the Cumberland, p. 226.] His first dispatch to Washington was the announcement that his army had met with a serious disaster, the extent of which he could not himself tell. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt. i. p. 142.] The most alarming feature of the news was that he was himself a dozen miles from the battlefield and had evidently lost all control of events. The truth turned out to be that two divisions would include all the troops that were broken,–namely, Sheridan’s, two brigades of Davis’s, and one of Van Cleve’s,–whilst seven other divisions stood firm and Thomas assumed command of them. As these retired in order, and as the enemy had suffered more in killed and wounded than our army, Bragg was entitled to claim a victory only because the field was left in his hands with large numbers of wounded and numerous trophies of cannon. It was then claimed by some of our best officers, and is still an open question whether, if Rosecrans had been with Thomas and, calling to him Granger’s troops, had resumed the offensive, the chances were not in our favor, and whether Bragg might not have been the one to retreat.

Unfortunately there was no doubt that the general was defeated, whether his army was or not. The most cursory study of the map showed that the only practicable road by which the army could be supplied was along the river from Bridgeport. Lookout Mountain commanded this; and not to hold Lookout was practically to announce a purpose to retreat into middle Tennessee. Dana informed the Secretary of War that Garfield and Granger had urged Rosecrans to hold the mountain, but that he would not listen to it. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt. i. p. 215.] He could much better afford to intrench a division there than Bragg could, for the Confederates were tied to Mission Ridge by the necessity of covering the Atlanta Railroad, which was their line of supply, and any troops put across the Chattanooga valley were in the air and likely to be cut off if the long and thin line which connected them were broken. Had Lookout Mountain been held, Hooker could have come at once into his place in line when he reached the Tennessee, and the reinforced army would have been ready, as soon as it was rested and supplied, to resume an offensive campaign. Instead of this, the country was for a month tortured with the apprehension that the Army of the Cumberland must retreat because it could not be fed by means of the mountain road over Walden’s Ridge. After the fortifications at Chattanooga were strong enough to put the place beyond danger from direct assault, it would only be adding to the danger of starvation to send more men there before a better line of supply was opened.

The problem which the President and Secretary of War pondered most anxiously was the capacity and fitness of Rosecrans to conduct the new campaign. Would he rise energetically to the height of the great task, or would he sink into the paralysis of will which so long followed the battle of Stone’s River? Dana’s dispatches were studied for the light they threw on this question more than for all the other interesting details they contained. For the first three or four days, they teemed with impressions of the battle itself and the cause of the disaster to the right wing. Then came the assurance that Chattanooga was safe and could withstand a regular siege. Next, in logical order as in time, was the attempt to look into the future and to estimate the commander by the way he grappled with the difficulties of the situation. On the 27th of September Dana discussed at some length the army feeling toward the corps and division commanders who had been involved in the rout, and the embarrassment of Rosecrans in dealing with the subject. “The defects of his character,” he wrote, “complicate the difficulty. He abounds in friendliness and approbativeness, and is greatly lacking in firmness and steadiness of will. He is a temporizing man, dreads so heavy an alternative as is now presented.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt. i p. 202.] On the 12th of October he returned to the subject of Rosecrans’s characteristics, mentioning his refusal to listen to the urgent reasons why he should hold Lookout Mountain to protect his supply line. “Rosecrans,” he said, “who is sometimes as obstinate and inaccessible to reason as at others he is irresolute, vacillating, and inconclusive, rejected all their arguments, and the mountain was given up.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt. i. p. 215.] Picturing the starvation of the horses and mules and the danger of it for the soldiers, he added: “In the midst of this the commanding general devotes that part of the time which is not employed in pleasant gossip, to the composition of a long report to prove that the government is to blame for his failure. It is my duty to declare that while few persons exhibit more estimable social qualities, I have never seen a public man possessing talent with less administrative power, less clearness and steadiness in difficulty, and greater practical incapacity than General Rosecrans. He has inventive fertility and knowledge, but he has no strength of will and no concentration of purpose. His mind scatters. There is no system in the use of his busy days and restless nights, no courage against individuals in his composition, and with great love of command he is a feeble commander.” [Footnote: _Ibid_.]

It needs no proof that such a report would have great influence at Washington, and if it at all harmonized with the drift of impressions caused by the inaction and the wrangling of the summer, it would be decisive. It was with it in his pocket that Mr. Stanton had cross-questioned Garfield, and drew out answers which, as he said, corroborated it. The same correspondence had set forth the universal faith in Thomas’s imperturbable steadiness and courage, and the admiring faith in him which had possessed the whole army. The natural and the almost necessary outcome of it all was that Thomas should be placed in command of the Department and Army of the Cumberland, and Grant in supreme control of the active operations in the whole valley of the Mississippi. As to Rosecrans’s removal, Grant did not bring it about, he only acquiesced in it; willingly, no doubt, but without initiative or suggestion on his part. [Footnote: Grant’s Personal Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 18.]

It may be well here to say a word upon the subsequent relations of Garfield and Rosecrans. In the next winter a joint resolution was offered in Congress thanking General Thomas and the officers and men under his command for their conduct in the battle of Chickamauga. The established etiquette in such matters is to name the general commanding the army, whose services are recognized, and not his subordinates; these are included in the phrase, “officers and men under his command.” To omit Rosecrans’s name and to substitute Thomas’s was equivalent to a public condemnation of the former. Garfield had been promoted to be major-general for his conduct in the battle, and it was popularly understood that this meant his special act in volunteering to make his way to Thomas after Rosecrans and the staff were swept along the Dry Valley road in the rout. The promotion was recognized as a censure by implication on his chief. As Garfield was now chairman of the committee of the House of Representatives on military affairs, he was placed in a peculiarly embarrassing position. His sincere liking for Rosecrans made him wish to spare him the humiliation involved in the passage of such a resolution, and his generosity was the more stimulated by the knowledge that his own promotion had been used to emphasize the shortcoming of his friend. He could not argue that on the battlefield itself there had been no faults committed; but he was very earnest in insisting that the general strategy of the campaign had been admirable, and the result in securing Chattanooga as a fortified base for future operations had been glorious. He therefore moved to amend the resolution by inserting Rosecrans’s name and modifying the rest so as to make it apply to the campaign and its results. He supported this in an eloquent speech which dwelt upon the admirable parts of Rosecrans’s generalship and skilfully avoided the question of personal conduct on the field. He carried the House with him, but a joint resolution must pass the Senate also, and it never came to a vote in that body.

When in 1880 Garfield was elected President, and in the midst of a heated campaign had to run the gantlet of personal attacks infinitely worse than the picket fire under which he had galloped across the Kelley farm, a letter was produced which he had written to Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, in June, 1863, when he was urging Rosecrans to terminate the inglorious delays at Murfreesboro by marching on Tullahoma. In his letter to Mr. Chase he had expressed in warmest terms his personal affection for Rosecrans, but had also condemned the summer’s delays as unnecessary and contrary to military principles. In the violence of partisan discussion the letter was seized upon as evidence of a breach of faith toward his chief, who was now acting with the political party opposed to Garfield’s election. The letter was a personal one, written in private friendship to Mr. Chase, with whom Garfield had kept up an occasional correspondence since the beginning of the war. I had done the like, for Mr. Chase had admitted us both to his intimacy when he was Governor of Ohio. It cannot for a moment be maintained that military subordination is inconsistent with temperate and respectful criticism (for such this was) of a superior, in private communications to a friend. But it was argued that the relation of chief of staff involved another kind of confidence. It unquestionably involved the duty of observing and maintaining perfectly every confidence actually reposed in him. But the public acts of the chief were anything but confidential. They were in the face of all the world, and these only were the subject of his private and friendly criticism. That criticism he had, moreover, expressed to Rosecrans himself as distinctly as he wrote it to Mr. Chase, and had declared it publicly in the written consultation or council of war to which the corps and division commanders were called. [Footnote: _Ante_, vol. i. p. 483.]

But Garfield was also at that time a member of Congress, having duties to the President, the Cabinet, and his colleagues and fellow members growing out of that relation. Rosecrans not only knew this, but was supposed by many to have invited Garfield to take the staff appointment partly by reason of this. Under all the circumstances, therefore, the ground of complaint becomes shadowy and disappears. Rosecrans, however, was made to think he had suffered a wrong. He forgot the generosity with which Garfield had saved him from humiliation in the session of 1863-64, and said bitter things which put an end to the friendly relations which had till then been maintained.

To return to Chattanooga in October, 1863: one thing remained to be done before a new campaign could begin. A better mode of supplying the army must be found. Thomas had answered Grant’s injunction to hold Chattanooga at all hazards by saying, “I will hold the town till we starve.” The memorable words have been interpreted as a dauntless assurance of stubborn defence; but they more truly meant that the actual peril was not from the enemy, but from hunger. Rosecrans had begun to feel the necessity of opening a new route to Bridgeport before he was relieved, and on the very day he laid down the command, he had directed Brigadier-General W. F. Smith, sent to him to be chief engineer of his army since the battle, to examine the river banks in the vicinity of Williams Island, six or seven miles below the town by the river, and to report upon the feasibility of laying a pontoon bridge there which could be protected. The expectation had been that Hooker would concentrate his two corps at Bridgeport, make his own crossing of the Tennessee, and push forward to the hills commanding Lookout Valley. By intrenching himself strongly in the vicinity of Wauhatchie, he would confine the Confederates to Lookout Mountain on the west, and cover the roads along the river so as to make them safe for supply trains. The only interruption in the connected communications would then be around the base of Lookout itself, where the road could not be used, of course, so long as Bragg should be able to hold the mountain. If, however, a bridge could be laid somewhere in rear of such a fortified position, the road on the north bank of the river could be used, for this road ran across the neck of Moccasin Point, out of range of a cannonade from the mountain, and after a short haul of a mile or two, the wagon trains could recross the river by the bridge at the town.

Hooker had showed no eagerness to take the laboring oar in this business, and excused his delay in concentrating at Bridgeport by the lack of wagons. General Smith’s reconnoissance satisfied him that Brown’s Ferry, a little above the island, would admirably serve the purpose. A roadway to the river on each side already existed. On the south side was a gorge and a brook, which sheltered the landing there, and would cover and hide troops moving toward the top of the ridge commanding Lookout Valley. Smith reported his discovery to Thomas and suggested that pontoons be built in Chattanooga, and used to convey a force by night to the ferry, where they might be met by Hooker coming from below. Thomas approved the plan, and as soon as Grant arrived, he inspected the ground in company with Thomas and Smith, and ordered it to be executed. The boats were completed by the end of a week, and on the night of the 26th of October the expedition started under the command of General Smith in person. Brigadier-Generals Hazen and Turchin and Colonel T. R. Stanley of the Eighteenth Ohio [Footnote: Colonel Stanley had been one of my associates in the Ohio Senate in the winter of 1860-61. On the origin and development of the plan and its complete execution, see Reports of General Smith and others, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 77-137.] were assigned to command the three detachments of troops and boats assigned to the duty, and reported to Smith. Covered by the darkness and in absolute silence, they were to float down the stream which flowed around Moccasin Point in a great curve under the base of Lookout, on which batteries commanded long reaches of the river both above and below. Reaching the ferry on the enemy’s side, they would land and carry the picket posts with a rush, Hazen to move to the left and seize the ridge facing the mountain, and Turchin to do the like toward the right, facing down stream. Colonel Stanley’s detachment had the charge of the boats, which were fitted with row-locks and oars, and these were to do the ferrying when the proper place was reached. Each boat contained a corporal and four men as a crew, and twenty-five armed soldiers. They were fifty in number, besides two flatboats to be used as a ferry to cross the artillery. The whole force consisted of 5000 men and three batteries of artillery. The boats carried about a third of the whole, and the principal columns marched by the road on the north bank to the places assigned and were concealed in the forest. The plan worked beautifully. Starting at three o’clock in the morning of the 27th, the darkness of the night and a slight fog hid the boats from the Confederate pickets. The oars were only used to keep the boats in proper position in the current, and great care was taken to move silently. Colonel Stanley took the lead with General Hazen in one of the flatboats, having a good guide. The landing on the south bank was found, and the troops landed and drove off the enemy’s picket, which was taken completely by surprise. The boats were swiftly pulled to the north bank, where the troops which marched by the road were already in position. The ferrying was hurried with a will, and before the Confederates had time to bring any considerable force to oppose, strong positions were taken covering the ferry, these were covered by an abatis of slashed forest trees and intrenched. The surprise had been complete, and the success had been perfect.

Hooker crossed the river on the bridge at Bridgeport, and on the morning of the 28th marched by way of Running Waters and Whitesides to Wauhatchie. Geary’s division reached Wauhatchie about five in the afternoon, and about midnight was fiercely attacked by Jenkins’ division of Longstreet’s corps. The combat continued for some time, the enemy having some advantage at first as they attacked Geary’s left flank in a direction from which he did not expect them. Other troops were urged forward to Geary’s assistance, but the enemy retired as they approached the scene of action and only his division was seriously engaged. He reported a list of 216 casualties, whilst the Confederates admitted a loss of about 400. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 119, 233.] Hooker’s position was made strongly defensible, so that Bragg did not again venture to disturb it, and the easy lines of supply for Chattanooga were opened. The subsistence problem was solved.



Departments not changed by Grant–Sherman assigned to that of the Tennessee–Burnside’s situation and supplies–His communications–Building a railroad–Threatened from Virginia–His plans–Bragg sends Longstreet into East Tennessee–Their cross-purposes–Correspondence of Grant and Burnside–Dana and Wilson sent to consult–Grant approves Burnside’s course–Latter slowly retires on Knoxville–The place prepared for a siege–Combat at Campbell’s station–Within the lines at Knoxville–Topography of the place–Defences–Assignment of positions-The forts–General Sanders killed–His self-sacrifice–Longstreet’s lines of investment–His assault of Fort Sanders–The combat–The repulse–The victory at Missionary Ridge and results–Division of Confederate forces a mistake–Grant sends Sherman to raise the siege of Knoxville–East Tennessee a “horror”–Longstreet retreats toward Virginia–Sherman rejoins Grant–Granger’s unwillingness to remain–General Foster sent to relieve Burnside–Criticism of this act–Halleck’s misunderstanding of the real situation–Grant’s easy comprehension of it–His conduct in enlarged responsibility–General Hunter’s inspection report.

One of the first questions which General Grant had to decide was that of the continuance of the three separate departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee. It was very undesirable to concentrate the ordinary administrative work of these departments at his own headquarters. It would overburden him with business routine which need not go beyond a department commander. He needed to be free to give his strength to the conduct of military affairs in the field. It was also convenient to have the active army under a triple division of principal parts. All these reasons led him to a prompt determination to preserve the department organizations if the War Department would consent. The very day of his arrival at Chattanooga (October 23) he recommended Sherman for the Department of the Tennessee and the continuance of the others. His wish was approved at Washington, and acted upon, so that from this time to the end of the war the organization in the West remained what he now made it.

Before reaching Chattanooga, Grant had telegraphed to Burnside and had received from him a detailed statement of the numbers and positions of his troops. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 680, 681.] Burnside also laid before him the dearth of supplies and short stock of ammunition, with the great need of clothing. Unless the railroad to Chattanooga could be fully reopened, he suggested making a depot at McMinnville, where was the end of one of the branches of the railway, from which the road to Knoxville would be considerably shorter than from Kentucky. He also informed Grant that he had taken steps to repair the wagon road from Clinton in East Tennessee to the mouth of South Fork of the Cumberland, the head of steamboat navigation when the stream should be swollen by the winter rains. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. pp. 33, 34.] The problem of supplies for him was as difficult as for the Cumberland army, and was not so soon solved. It grew more serious still when the siege of Knoxville interrupted for a month all communication with a base in Kentucky, in middle Tennessee, or at Chattanooga.

In reply to an inquiry from General Grant, Burnside, on the 22d, [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 702.] gave his opinion as to the relative importance of points in East Tennessee, pointing out that unless communication with Kentucky were to be wholly abandoned, the valley must be held nearly or quite to the Virginia line; Knoxville would be the central position, and Loudon would be the intermediate one between him and Chattanooga. In a dispatch to the President of the same date, Burnside said that his command had been on half rations of everything but fresh beef ever since his arrival in the valley. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 701.] He also explained that he was improving the wagon road along the line of projected railroad down the South Fork of the Cumberland, so that sections of it could be laid with rails and the wagoning gradually shortened. He had been able to make an arrangement with the railroad company in Kentucky to assume the cost of the extension of the line from the northward, and by using his military power to call out negro laborers and to provide the engineering supervision, was making considerable progress without any money appropriations from Congress for this specific purpose. The quartermaster’s department had taken issue with the general as to his authority to do this; but the President and Secretary of War sanctioned his acts and would not allow him to be interfered with. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxx. pt iii, p. 787.] The work stopped when he was relieved of command; but so long as he was in power, his clear apprehension of the vital necessity of a railway line to feed and clothe his army kept him persistent and indomitable in his purpose. The withdrawal of the enemy southward from Chattanooga, and the conversion of that place into a great military depot in the spring superseded Burnside’s plan, but he had been right in concluding that East Tennessee could not be held if the troops depended upon supply by wagon trains.

Grant had hardly reached Chattanooga when Halleck informed him that it was pretty certain that Ewell’s corps of 20,000 or 25,000 men had gone from Lee’s army toward East Tennessee by way of southwestern Virginia. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 712.] There thus seemed to be strong confirmation of rumors which Burnside had before reported. Before the end of the month there were also signs of a concentration south of Loudon, and the question became a pressing one, what line of action should be prescribed for Burnside if the Confederates should thus attack him from both ends of the valley. He did not credit the rumor as to Ewell’s corps, but began to think that a large detachment from Bragg’s army would attack him from the south. It is curious to find the report rife that Longstreet would march against Burnside, even before Bragg had issued orders to that effect. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 718. Oct. 24.] Burnside himself proposed to take up the pontoon bridge at Loudon, and move it to Knoxville, for both the Holston and the Little Tennessee were now unfordable and would protect his flank against small expeditions of the enemy. [Footnote: 2 _Id_., p. 756.] His plan was to hold all the country he could and to concentrate at Knoxville and stand a siege whenever the enemy should prove too strong for him in the open field. Grant was not yet persuaded that this was best, and wanted the line of the Hiwassee held for the present, so that Burnside should draw nearer to Thomas rather than increase the distance before the Cumberland army should be prepared for active work in the field. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 770.]

Bragg’s order to Longstreet to march against Burnside was issued on the 4th of November. [Footnote: _Id_. pt. iii. p. 634.] Railway transportation was provided for the first stages of the movement, but it was not efficiently used. Longstreet had no confidence in the result of the expedition, as his correspondence with Bragg very plainly shows. Stevenson’s division of Hardee’s corps was at Sweetwater, the end of the railway at that time, and about a day’s march from the crossing of the Holston at Loudon. Ten days had been wasted in getting Longstreet’s corps to Sweetwater, and Bragg and he each charged the other with the responsibility for it. Longstreet asserted that he had been given no control over the railway, and Bragg insisted that the control was ample. Then the former had urged that Stevenson’s division should be attached to his command, saying this was his understanding at the start. Bragg replied that he never had any such intention and that Stevenson could not be spared. Longstreet retorted that with his present force it would be unreasonable to expect great results. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. iii. pp. 635-637, 644, 670, 671, 680, 681, 687: Longstreet’s Report, _Id_., pt. i. pp. 455, etc.]

Meanwhile Sherman was hastening to Chattanooga, and the chances for making the diversion against Burnside profitable to the Confederate cause were rapidly diminishing. They soon vanished entirely, and Grant’s great opportunity came instead. Longstreet’s corps consisted of nine brigades of infantry in two strong divisions under Major-General McLaws and Brigadier-General Jenkins, two battalions of artillery aggregating nine batteries, and a cavalry corps of three divisions and three batteries of artillery under Major-General Wheeler. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 451, 454.] Besides these troops a force was collected in the upper Holston valley to operate from the northeast in conjunction with Longstreet and under his command. At its head was Major-General Ransom, and it consisted of three brigades of infantry and three of cavalry, with six batteries of artillery. The column with Longstreet numbered 14,000 infantry and artillery, and about 6000 cavalry. It was strengthened when before Knoxville by Buckner’s division about 3300 strong. Ransom’s forces numbered 7500. [Footnote: These numbers are taken from the official returns for October 31st, except Wheeler’s cavalry, which was not then reported and is estimated. Longstreet’s corps is given in the tables, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. ii. p. 656. Ransom’s, _Id_., pt. iii. p. 644.] On November 22d Bragg wrote to Longstreet that nearly 11,000 reinforcements were moving to his assistance, but of what these were made up (except Buckner’s division) does not clearly appear. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 736.]

The information Halleck collected at Washington indicated that Longstreet’s column was a strong one, possibly numbering 40,000, but he urged that Burnside should not retreat. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 145.] The National forces in East Tennessee consisted, first, of the troops under General Willcox at Cumberland Gap and the vicinity, 4400; the Ninth Corps, Brigadier-General Potter commanding, 6350; and part of the Twenty-third Corps, 7800, with two bodies of cavalry numbering 7400. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 811.] Willcox’s troops and part of the cavalry were ordered to hold in check the Confederates under Ransom, one brigade of cavalry under Colonel Byrd was posted at Kingston to keep up communication with Chattanooga, and the rest was available to meet Longstreet, either in the field or behind intrenchments at Knoxville, as Grant should direct.

Longstreet’s army was considerably overrated in the information received from Washington, but not unnaturally. [Footnote: Halleck to Grant, _Id_., pt. iii. p. 145.] It was assumed that he had with him all three divisions of his corps, and it was not known that Walker’s division was detached. It had also been known that Stevenson’s division was at Sweetwater two or three weeks before Longstreet assembled his forces there, and it seemed certain that it was the advance-guard of his whole command. Indeed Longstreet himself supposed so, and complained because it was not allowed to remain with him. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 635.] Concluding, therefore, that Burnside could not safely meet Longstreet in the field, Grant proposed that he should hold the Confederates in check, retreating slowly. He believed that in a week from the time Longstreet showed himself at the Holston River, he could assume the aggressive against Bragg so vigorously as to bring Longstreet back at speed and relieve Burnside of the pressure. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 143; to Halleck, p. 154.] Bragg also expected this, and had ordered that the railway connection should be maintained as far as possible, looking for a crushing blow at Burnside and a quick reassembling of his forces. The delays between the 4th and 14th of November had been fatal to this plan, and it would have been the part of wisdom to abandon it frankly.

Neither the authorities at Washington nor Grant gave Burnside credit, at first, for the cheerful courage with which he was ready to take the losing side of the game, if need be, and thus give a glorious opportunity to the co-operating army. His chivalrous self-forgetfulness in such matters was perfect, when it was likely to lead to the success of the larger cause he had at heart. To reach a more perfect understanding than could be had by correspondence Grant sent Colonel J. H. Wilson of his staff to Knoxville to consult personally with Burnside. This officer was accompanied by Mr. Dana, and their dispatches to Grant and to the Secretary of War give a clear and vivid picture of the situation. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 258, etc; pt. iii. pp. 146, 154.] Burnside clearly saw the importance of making his stand at Knoxville, and proposed to fortify that place so that he could stand a siege there. [Footnote: Burnside to Willcox, _Id_., p. 177. B.’s Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 273.] He proposed to draw back slowly from the Holston at Loudon, tolling Longstreet on and getting him beyond supporting distance of Bragg. When Grant should have disposed of the weakened enemy in his front, he could easily drive Longstreet out of East Tennessee into Virginia. Grant approved without qualification the course taken by Burnside. [Footnote: Grant to Burnside, _Id_., pt. iii. p. 177.] During the siege which followed, there was a good deal of solicitude about Burnside, but it should be remembered in justice to him that his own confidence never faltered and was fully justified by the result.

Prior to the visit of Wilson and Dana he had sent his engineer, Captain O. M. Poe, to Loudon to remove the pontoon bridge before the occupation of the south bank of the Holston by the enemy should make it impossible to save it. The bridge had been made of unusually large and heavy boats, and it was a difficult task to haul them out of the water and drag them half a mile to the railway. The south end of the bridge was loosened and the whole swung with the current against the right bank, where the dismantling and removal of the boats was successfully accomplished under the eyes of a cavalry force of the enemy which watched the performance from the opposite bank. The bridge was carried to Knoxville and laid across the Holston there. Its size and weight proved to be great points in its favor for the special use there, and it was of inestimable value during the partial investment of the town. [Footnote: Poe’s Report, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 294. Century War Book, vol. iii.]

On the 13th of November Longstreet brought up his own pontoons and laid a bridge near Loudon, and the next day began a vigorous advance upon Knoxville. Burnside had matured his plans, and opposed the advance of Longstreet with one division, Hartranft’s of the Ninth Corps, and another, White’s of the Twenty-third Corps. He was weak in cavalry, however, and could only meet Wheeler’s corps with a single division under Brigadier-General Sanders. Burnside had secured Sanders’s promotion from Mr. Stanton when the Secretary was at Louisville in October, in recognition of the ability and gallantry shown in the expedition to East Tennessee in June and his other services during the campaign. By giving Shackelford charge of the cavalry operating in the upper valley and putting Sanders in command of those resisting Wheeler, Burnside was sure of vigor and courage in the leadership of both divisions. Longstreet kept Wheeler on the left bank of the Holston, directing him to overwhelm Sanders and move directly opposite Knoxville, taking the city by a surprise if possible. But Sanders opposed a stubborn resistance, falling back deliberately, and held the hills south of Knoxville near the river. Wheeler was thus baffled, and returned to Longstreet on the 17th of November. The absence of his cavalry had been a mistake, as it turned out; for the Confederate infantry, after crossing at Loudon to the right bank, had not been able to push Burnside back as fast as Bragg’s plans required, nor had they succeeded at all in getting in the rear of the National forces.

As soon as it was definitely known at Knoxville that Longstreet was over the Holston, Burnside went to the front at Lenoir’s to take command in person. [Footnote: Burnside’s Report, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 273.] He left General Parke as chief of staff in general charge of affairs at headquarters, with Captain Poe in charge of the engineer work of preparing lines of defence connecting the forts already planned and partly constructed. Wilson and Dana stayed in Knoxville till the 15th, and then rode rapidly to the westward, passing around Longstreet’s columns and rejoining Grant at Chattanooga on the night of the 17th, with latest assurances from Burnside that he would hold Knoxville stubbornly. Longstreet’s tactics were to move one of his infantry divisions directly at Burnside’s position, while with the other he turned its flank and sought to get to the rear. Burnside met the plan by the analogous one of alternate withdrawals of a division, one holding the enemy at bay while the other took post in echelon in the rear and opposed the flanking column till a concentration could be made.

At Campbell’s Station Longstreet attacked with vigor, determined to finish matters with the force before him. Ferrero’s division of the Ninth Corps had now joined. Hartranft repulsed an attack by McLaws, whilst the trains and the division of Ferrero passed on, and Ferrero took a strong position half a mile in rear covering the junction of roads. White then retired and came into line on Ferrero’s left. When these were solidly in place Hartranft took an opportune moment to withdraw and came into line on the left of White. The manoeuvres were perfectly performed, and the fighting of our troops had been everything that could be desired, meeting and matching Longstreet’s veterans in a way to establish the soldierly reputation of all. The comparatively new organization of the Twenty-third Corps proved itself equal to the best, and Burnside declared that he could desire no better soldiers. The same tactics were continued through the day, and Burnside followed the hard labor and the fighting of the day with a night march which brought him to Knoxville on the morning of the 17th. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 274, 275, 296.] He had personally handled his little army through the day with coolness and success, and had raised to enthusiasm the confidence and devotion of his men. Each side had a casualty list of about 300.

Wheeler had marched back along the left bank of the Holston half-way to Lenoir’s and crossed at Louisville, joining Longstreet again near Knoxville on the 17th, as has been already stated. He now took the advance and pressed sharply in upon the town. General Sanders had been recalled by Burnside from the south, and entering Knoxville by the pontoon bridge, passed out to the westward on the Loudon road, meeting the enemy as he advanced, and gradually falling back to a position a mile beyond the lines, where he made a stubborn stand and held Wheeler at bay till night closed the combat. From the fortified points about the city the cavalry engagement had been in full view, and the heroism of Sanders and his men was in the presence of a cloud of witnesses. They made little barricades of rail piles, and though these were frequently sent flying by the cannon balls and shells with which Alexander’s artillery pounded them all day, they held at nightfall the line Sanders had been directed to hold in the morning, and had not given back an inch. [Footnote: Colonel O. M. Poe, in “Century War Book,” vol. iii. p. 737.]

Knoxville was so situated that its outline was a sort of parallelogram of high ground, averaging a hundred and fifty feet or more above the river which ran along the town on the south. Two creeks ran through the town in little valleys, and in the northern suburbs where the land was much lower than the town it had been practicable, by damming these streams to make inundations which covered a considerable part of the northern front and added very materially to the defences. At the four corners of the parallelogram, enclosed works had been planned for use by a small garrison, and these had been partly constructed. Captain Poe, the chief engineer, had staked out infantry lines connecting these forts, with epaulements for artillery at intervals, and work had been hastened during the days from the 13th of November, as soon as Burnside’s plan of holding the city had been approved. When the troops approached the city on the morning of the 17th, the position for every brigade and every battery had been assigned, and officers were in waiting to lead each to its place. All the infantry was put in line except Reilly’s brigade of the Twenty-third Corps, which was placed in reserve in the streets of the town. [Footnote: Poe’s Report, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 295.]

The most important of the forts was at the northwest angle of the works, upon a commanding hill. It was afterward called Fort Sanders in honor of the cavalry commander who lost his life in front of its western face. This work was planned as approximately a square with sides of about a hundred yards and bastions at the corners. The eastern front had not been completed, and was now left entirely open, as the northern face connected with the infantry trench. The ditch was twelve feet wide and about eight deep, and the parapet was about twelve feet high, making its crest about twenty feet above the bottom of the ditch. The berme usually left between the bottom of the parapet slope and the ditch was cut away so as to leave no level standing-place at the top of the scarp. This was the work which Longstreet afterward assaulted. Its chief defect was due to the situation and the contour of the ground around, which made its position so prominent a salient in the lines that the flanking fire was necessarily imperfect, leaving a considerable sector without fire beyond the angle of the northwest bastion. The point of the bastion was truncated, and a single gun put in the _pan coupé_. The three other forts were less elaborate but of similar profile.

As soon as the infantry took position, the men were set industriously to work to strengthen the defences. The first infantry trench between the forts had been a mere rifle-pit two and one half feet deep with the earth heaped in front as it was thrown out, to raise a parapet. Every hour made the line stronger, and work on it was continued till nearly every part of it was a good cover against artillery fire. The critical time was during the 18th of November, when as yet there was practically no cover between the forts. The cavalry was ordered to oppose the most determined resistance to the establishment of close investing lines by the enemy, and Sanders set his men a most inspiring example. He was a classmate of Captain Poe at West Point, and on the night of the 17th he shared Poe’s blanket. Before dawn he went to the front, and passed from one to another of the little barricades held by his dismounted troopers. The Confederates increased the vigor of their attacks, and if any of our men were driven back by the hot fire, Sanders would walk deliberately up to the rail-pile and stand erect and exposed till his men rallied to him. For hours he did this, and his life seemed to be charmed, but about the middle of the afternoon he was mortally wounded, and the screen he had so resolutely interposed between the enemy and our infantry digging in the trenches was rolled aside. [Footnote: Paper by General Poe in “Century War Book,” vol. iii. p. 737.] The time thus gained had been precious, though it was bought at so high a price. The lines were already safe against a _coup de main_. [Footnote: Poe’s Report, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 296.]

Longstreet’s principal lines were north of Knoxville beyond the railway and the station buildings. He also occupied a line of hills, but pushed forward strong skirmish lines and detachments to cover the making of intrenchments closer to the town. There were frequent bickering combats, but no general engagement. The enemy made efforts to destroy the pontoon bridge by sending down logs and rafts from above. These were met by an iron cable boom stretched across the river above the bridge, borne on wooden floats to keep it at the surface. [Footnote: Century War Book, vol. iii. p. 739.] Several efforts were made to drive Burnside’s men from the hills covering the town on the south side of the river, but they were defeated, and communication was kept up with the valley of the French Broad River, and supplies enough were brought in to make it certain that Burnside could not be starved out, although the rations were reduced to the smallest quantity and the fewest elements which would support life.

A week passed thus, Burnside being shut off from all communication with the outer world. The 25th of November came with the almost miraculous storming of Missionary Ridge by the army under Grant at Chattanooga. Bragg retreated southward and Longstreet had no longer a possibility of rejoining him. Yet Burnside knew nothing of it, and did not dream of the more than complete justification his slow defensive campaign was having, in the tout and demoralization of the Confederate army in Georgia in Longstreet’s absence. The latter was now forced to attack the fortifications or to raise the siege of Knoxville. He knew, at least by rumor, what Burnside was ignorant of,–not only the defeat of Bragg, but that a force was already moving from Grant’s army to the relief of Knoxville. Bragg had also sent to him a staff officer with exhortations to prompt action. For a day or two Longstreet tried to attract Burnside’s attention to the south of the river and to other parts of the lines, and then on the 28th prepared a desperate assault upon the great salient of Fort Sanders.

The artillery in the fort was under the command of Lieutenant Samuel N. Benjamin, Second U. S. Artillery, whose battery of twenty-pounder Parrotts had done good service at South Mountain and Antietam. The infantry was of Ferrero’s division of the Ninth Corps. There was a slight abatis in front of the fort, and on the suggestion of Mr. Hoxie, an officer of the railway, some old telegraph wire left at the depot was used by Captain Poe to make an entanglement by fastening it between small stumps of a grove which had been felled along the slope northwest of the bastion at the salient. Longstreet’s plan of assault was to attack the northwest angle of the fort with two columns of regiments, consisting of Wofford’s and Humphrey’s brigades of McLaws’s division. Anderson’s brigade was to attack the infantry trench a little east of the fort. Longstreet’s instructions were to make the assault at break of day on the 29th. The columns were to move silently and swiftly without firing and endeavor to carry the parapet by the bayonet. [Footnote: Longstreet’s Report, Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 461.] The determined advance of the enemy’s rifle pits by his skirmishers in the night of the 28th gave warning of what was to be expected. The morning of the 29th was damp and foggy, but the watchful pickets detected the formation of the enemy’s columns. About six o’clock the Confederate batteries opened a heavy fire on the fort, which did not reply, ammunition being too precious to be wasted. In about twenty minutes the cannonade ceased and the columns moved to the assault. The fire of our lines was concentrated upon them, and they lost heavily; but they kept on, somewhat disordered by the entanglement as well as by their losses, and came to the ditch. No doubt its depth and the high face of the parapet surprised them, for they had no scaling ladders. They jumped into the ditch and tried to scramble up the slope of the earthwork. Some got to the top, only to be shot down or captured. The guns flanking the ditch raked it with double charges of canister. Shells were lighted and thrown as hand-grenades into the practically helpless crowd below. Those who had not entered the ditch soon wavered and fell back, at first sullenly and slowly, then in despair running for life to cover. Those who remained and could walk surrendered and were marched to the southwest angle of the fort, where they were brought within the lines.

The remnants of the broken columns were rallied behind their outer lines, but no effort was made to renew the assault. They had done all that was possible for flesh and blood. The casualties in the assault had been about 1000, whilst within the fortifications only 13 killed and wounded were reported. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. pp. 277, 278, 344, 461, 487, 490, 519, 520.] Buckner’s division had joined Longstreet a day or two before the assault, but took no active part in it. Their absence from Missionary Ridge still further reduced Bragg’s army, whilst it did not give to Longstreet any practical benefit. The division of the Confederate forces had thus proved to be a great military mistake. Its only chance had been in a swift attack upon Burnside and a prompt return, and this chance had vanished with the delays in the railroad transportation of Longstreet’s men to Sweetwater. Prudence dictated that the expedition should be abandoned on the 13th of November; but the fear of seeming vacillating, a weakness of second-rate minds as great as vacillation itself, had made Bragg order the column forward. Burnside’s well-conducted retreat, on the other hand, had lured Longstreet forward, and the patient endurance of a siege had kept the enemy in front of Knoxville, and even led to the further depletion of Bragg by the detachment of Buckner, giving to Grant the very opportunity he desired. The good fortune of the National commander culminated at Missionary Ridge. Soldiers believe in good luck quite as much as in genius, and follow a leader whose star is in the ascendant with a confidence which is the guaranty of victory. Great opportunities, however, come to all. The difference between a great soldier and an inferior one is that the great man uses his opportunities to the full, and so fortune seems to be in league with him. When Grant had driven Bragg back on Dalton, the latter could realize what he had lost by his errors. It was now impossible for Longstreet to rejoin him. It was even doubtful if Wheeler’s cavalry could do so. The whole National army was between the widely separated Confederate wings, and nothing was left to Longstreet but a humiliating march back to Lee by way of the upper Holston and the headwaters of the James River. Pride delayed it, and the depth of winter favored the delay; but it was a foregone conclusion from the hour that Wood’s and Sheridan’s divisions crowned Missionary Ridge.

For two weeks there had been no communication between Burnside and the outer world. Lincoln had been full of anxiety, but had found some comfort in the reports from Cumberland Gap that cannonading was still heard in the direction of Knoxville. It proved that Burnside held out, and gave additional earnestness to the President’s exhortation to hurry a column to his relief immediately after Grant’s victory. Grant needed no urging. A report had reached him that Burnside still was confident on the 23d, and had supplies for ten or twelve days on the scale of short rations he was issuing. On the very evening of his success he wrote to Sherman, “The next thing now will be to relieve Burnside.” He directed Thomas to detach Granger’s Corps, and this with part of the Army of the Tennessee would make a column of 20,000 men to march at once for Knoxville under Granger’s command. Three days passed, and Grant, being dissatisfied that the relieving column was not already far on its way, directed Sherman on the 29th to take command in person and push it energetically toward Burnside. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. ii. pp. 45, 49; Sherman’s Memoirs, vol. i. pp. 366, 368.] Sherman immediately went forward, and on the 1st of December he was over the Hiwassee River, approaching Loudon. He telegraphed Grant that he would let Burnside hear his guns on the 3d or 4th at farthest; but he added what throws much light on the feeling of military men in regard to campaigning in East Tennessee. In his frank and familiar style he said, “Recollect that East Tennessee is my horror. That any military man should send a force into East Tennessee puzzles me. Burnside is there and must be relieved; but when relieved, I want to get out and he should come out too.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. iii. p. 297.] From a strictly military point of view this was sound; but Burnside had been sent there more from political than from military reasons, and it was now too late to think of letting the loyal mountaineers return under Confederate rule.

Meanwhile at Knoxville Burnside was closely watching the evidences of Longstreet’s purposes and eagerly listening for news from Chattanooga. On the 1st of December wagon trains began to move eastward from the besiegers’ camp, and on the 3d and 4th more of them, so that it became probable that Longstreet was about to raise the siege. In the night of the 3d Captain Audenried, Sherman’s aide-de-camp, came into Knoxville from the south, having made a long circuit with a small body of cavalry, from Sherman’s camp, which on the night of the 2d was forty miles from the city by the direct road. Colonel Long, commanding Sherman’s cavalry, had selected part of his best mounted men for the expedition, and Audenried had accompanied him. The good news of Sherman’s approach was thus made certain, and it was evident that Longstreet’s information was earlier than Burnside’s. The Confederate camps were evacuated on the night of the 4th, and on the 5th Burnside, sending a detachment to follow up Longstreet’s retreat toward the east, sent one of his staff with an escort in the other direction to meet Sherman. The messenger from Burnside met the head of the relieving column at Marysville, a day’s march for infantry. Sherman halted his little army, and wrote Burnside that he felt disposed to stop, “for a stern chase is a long one,” since Longstreet had retreated. He rode in to Knoxville the next day and consulted with Burnside. He was evidently dubious of any advantage from a pursuit of Longstreet, and Burnside’s disposition was to avoid urging any comrade to undertake an unpleasant task for his sake. He therefore cordially assisted Sherman in solving his doubts in favor of taking back all his troops except Granger’s Fourth Corps, and wrote a letter of warm thanks for the prompt march to his relief, adding his opinion that the Fourth Corps would make him strong enough to meet Longstreet, and that it was advisable for Sherman to rejoin Grant with the rest. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. ii. p. 36.] This was accordingly done, and Sherman was free to give his attention to a winter campaign toward the Gulf, from which he hoped important results.

Granger did not relish the prospect of a protracted absence from the Army of the Cumberland, and protested in vigorous and long dispatches to Thomas, to Grant, to Burnside, to Sherman, and later to Foster, [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. pp. 358, 365, 391-393; Sherman’s Memoirs, vol. i. p. 368.] but with no effect, except that Grant was displeased with his original reluctance to march to Burnside’s relief as well as with these protests. The result showed itself in the spring, when Granger was relieved from the command of the corps, which was conferred upon Howard.

The raising of the siege brought Burnside into communication with Cumberland Gap, and he learned that Major-General John G. Foster was at Tazewell, under orders to relieve him of the command of the department. This was in apparent accord with the wish which Burnside had expressed, [Footnote: _Ante_, vol. i. pp. 527, 528.] but as action had been postponed it was reasonable to expect that further consultation would be had before he should be relieved, and that Grant’s judgment would be asked in regard to it. After the controversies which followed the battle of Fredericksburg, Halleck was habitually unfriendly to Burnside, and we have seen how uniformly a wrong interpretation was given to the events of the current campaign. Foster’s appointment to succeed Burnside was dated the 16th of November, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. iii. p. 166.] and he had been in Kentucky or near Cumberland Gap during the siege of Knoxville. The day the order was made relieving Burnside was that on which he was battling with Longstreet at Campbell’s Station, holding him at bay in the slow retreat upon Knoxville, where he arrived on the 17th. On this morning Grant was writing him, “So far you are doing exactly what appears to me right,” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 177.] and this was written after the receipt of Dana and Wilson’s full dispatches of the 13th and 14th, as well as Burnside’s of the 13th. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 138.] Yet so strangely was the same information misread by Halleck, that on the 16th he was telegraphing Grant that Burnside was hesitating whether to fight or retreat out of East Tennessee. “I fear he will not fight,” he added, “although strongly urged to do so. Unless you can give him immediate assistance, he will surrender his position to the enemy.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 163. This dispatch of Halleck seems to have been called out by one of Dana to Stanton on the 14th in which he said, “Burnside has determined to retreat toward the Gaps.” (Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 259.) Halleck failed to interpret this in connection with one of the 13th in which Dana had stated alternate lines of retreat, “if finally compelled,” and Burnside’s judgment in favor of the line of Cumberland Gap in such last resort rather than toward Kingston. (_Ibid_.) Dana had fully conveyed, however, Burnside’s determination to hold Knoxville “as long as possible,” and his reasons for making a stubborn fight there. By failing to keep this in mind, the Secretary and General-in-Chief became unnecessarily agitated, and forgot in their conduct what was due to Grant almost as much as what was due to Burnside.] On the next day Burnside entered Knoxville, where fortifications had been hurriedly built, and the siege began. The heroic defence of Knoxville lasted three weeks, and when Longstreet withdrew toward Virginia, the successful general learned that he had been removed from command at the very moment he was completing, with Grant’s unqualified approval, the preparation for that stubborn resistance which saved East Tennessee and averted the “terrible misfortune” which Halleck feared. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. p. 145.] The importance of holding East Tennessee, now that it had been liberated, was urged upon the War Department by Burnside from the beginning. He had pointed it out when ordered to abandon it and march to Rosecrans’s assistance. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxx. pt. iii. p. 904.] So far from hesitating to fight Longstreet, Dana found him determined to “expose his whole force to capture rather than withdraw from the country.” [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 260.] It was not till Mr. Dana’s later dispatches were received that the misapprehensions were corrected at Washington. Then the story of the occupation and defence of East Tennessee was explained, and justice was done the wisdom of the general’s course as well as his patriotic and unselfish spirit. A part of the trouble had been due to the fact that after Grant reached Nashville Burnside’s correspondence was with him, and, in accord with military usage, he dropped direct correspondence with Washington, except when addressed from there.

It was too late, however, to undo what had been done. Foster was in Kentucky, carrying forward into East Tennessee such detachments as could be picked up. He reached Knoxville on the 10th of December, and the next day Burnside turned over the command to him, and started for Cincinnati by way of Jacksboro and Williamsburg. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. iii. pp. 372, 384.] The President was most hearty in his approval of Burnside’s conduct when once he understood it, and insisted that after a brief rest he should again enter into active service. Congress passed strong resolutions of thanks to him and to his troops, [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 281.] and it began to be understood that the campaign had been a creditable one.

It was in such a command that Burnside appeared at his best. The independence of his campaign gave full play to his active energy, whilst the bodies of troops were not so large as to prevent his personal leadership in their combats. In a great army he was at a disadvantage from lack of true system in handling great and complicated affairs when he was in chief command; and if his position was a subordinate one he lacked the sort of responsibility which called out his best qualities, and he was therefore liable to become the formal intermediary for the transmission of orders. In such cases, too, he was in danger of suffering from faults of subordinates whom his kind heart had permitted to retain important positions for which they were not fit. When acting immediately under his eye, he could give them energy and courage which they would lack when left to themselves. The sore spot in his experience in 1864 was the failure to make full use of the explosion of the mine at Petersburg, and the Court of Inquiry made it clear that the fault lay with inefficient subordinates. One of the most prominent of these was said to have stayed in a bomb-proof instead of leading his command. But the same officer had done the same thing in Fort Sanders at Knoxville, as had been officially reported by Captain Benjamin, the Chief of Artillery; [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. i. p. 344.] and Benjamin was an officer of such military and personal standing that a court-martial should certainly have investigated the case. A mistaken leniency brought bitter fruit.

The campaign had been a new test for General Grant also, and it is instructive to follow him in grasping the details of his enlarged responsibility. When communication with Burnside became difficult and infrequent, he gave orders to Willcox at Cumberland Gap and to subordinates of Burnside in Kentucky and Ohio. He provided for starting supplies to Knoxville by all practicable routes as soon as the siege should be raised. He cut trenchantly through pretences where he thought a lack of vigorous performance was covered up by verbosity of reports. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. p. 233.] He was quietly but easily master, and showed no symptom of being overweighted by his task or flurried by the excitements of a critical juncture in affairs. He does not impress one as brilliant in genius, but as eminently sound and sensible. His quality of greatness was that he handled great affairs as he would little ones, without betraying any consciousness that this was a great thing to do. He reminds one of Wellington in the combination of lucid and practical common-sense with aggressive bull-dog courage. Some telling lines, developing his traits as he appeared to a critical observer, are found in a dispatch of General David Hunter to the Secretary of War, giving a report of his visit to Chattanooga where he was sent to inspect the army. Hunter was one of the oldest of the regular officers in service, knew thoroughly Grant’s history and early army reputation, and his words have peculiar significance. Grant had received him with a sort of filial kindness, making him at home in his quarters, and opening his mind and his purposes to him with his characteristic modesty and simplicity of manner. Hunter says: “I saw him almost every moment, except when sleeping, of the three weeks I spent in Chattanooga…. He is a hard worker, writes his own dispatches and orders, and does his own thinking. He is modest, quiet, never swears, and seldom drinks, as he took only two drinks during the three weeks I was with him. He listens quietly to the opinions of others and then judges promptly for himself; and he is very prompt to avail himself in the field of all the errors of his enemy. He is certainly a good judge of men, and has called around him valuable counsellors.” He naively adds: “Prominent as General Grant is before the country, these remarks of mine may appear trite and uncalled for, but having been ordered to inspect his command, I thought it not improper for me to add my testimony with regard to the commander.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxi. pt. iii. p. 402.]



Administrative duties–Major McLean adjutant-general–His loyalty questioned–Ordered away–Succeeded by Captain Anderson–Robert Anderson’s family–Vallandigham canvass–Bounty-jumping–Action of U. S. Courts–of the local Probate Court–Efforts to provoke collision–Interview with the sheriff–Letter to Governor Tod–Shooting soldiers in Dayton–The October election–Great majority against Vallandigham–The soldier vote–Wish for field service–Kinglake’s Crimean War–Its lessons–Confederate plots in Canada–Attempt on military prison at Johnson’s Island–Assembling militia there–Fortifying Sandusky Bay–Inspection of the prison–Condition and treatment of the prisoners.

In the sketch I have given of the campaign in East Tennessee, I have reached the time when I joined the Twenty-third Corps in front of Knoxville, and became part of the organization with which my fortunes were to be united till the end of the war. It is necessary, however, to go back and pick up the threads of personal experience during this autumn of 1863.

The arrangement of the business of the department which I have mentioned [Footnote: _Ante_, vol. i. p. 492.] gave me some work in addition to that which properly belonged to the District of Ohio and Michigan. I did not appear officially in it, but under Burnside’s instructions to his adjutant-general on leaving Cincinnati, the questions arising in daily administration were submitted to me, and on my advice current orders were issued in Burnside’s name. This kept me in close communication with the general personally as well as officially, and made me aware of the progress of events more perfectly than I could otherwise have been. The adjutant-general in charge of the Cincinnati headquarters was Major N. H. McLean, an experienced officer of the regular army, and most systematic and able in his administrative duties. He was punctilious in his performance of duty, and was especially averse to having his military conduct seem in any way influenced by political motives. Like many other officers of the army, he made his devotion to his government as a soldier the basis of all his action, and disclaimed any interest in politics. But in the summer of 1863 politics in Ohio became too heated to allow any neutrality or even any hesitation in open declarations of principle. Vallandigham was a candidate for governor, although an exile under the judgment of the military court. Local politicians were not always discreet, and some of them demanded avowals of Major McLean, which he refused to make, not because of any sympathy with Vallandigham’s partisans, but because he thought it unbecoming his military character to submit to catechising. This was enough to condemn him in the eyes of those who literally enforced the proverb that “he that is not for us is against us,” and they sent to the War Department a highly colored statement of McLean’s conduct, accusing him of disloyalty. Mr. Stanton, in his characteristic way, condemned him first and tried him afterward. The first we knew of it, an order came sending McLean off to the Pacific coast,–to Oregon, I believe. General Burnside protested, and warmly sustained the major as a loyal man and able officer; but the mischief was done, and it was months before it could be undone. Indeed it was years before the injury done him in his professional career was fully recognized and a serious attempt was made to recompense him.

When Major McLean was thus removed, the business of his office fell into the hands of Captain William P. Anderson of the adjutant-general’s department, who issued the orders and conducted the correspondence in General Burnside’s name. The captain was a nephew of General Robert Anderson, and though the general had no sons himself, his near kinsmen gave striking evidence of the earnest and militant patriotism of a loyal Kentucky stock closely allied to a well-known Ohio family. The roster of the members of the family who saw military service is an exceptional one. [Footnote: Colonel Charles Anderson, brother of the general, was in Texas when the Civil War began, but abandoned his interests there, and coming back to Ohio was made colonel of the Ninety-third Ohio Infantry, which he led in the battle of Stone’s River, where he was wounded. He was in 1863 made the Union candidate for lieutenant-governor on the ticket with John Brough, whom he succeeded as governor when Brough died in 1865.

Colonel Latham Anderson, son of Charles, graduated at West Point in 1859 and became a captain in the Fifth U. S. Infantry and colonel of the Eighth California Volunteers. His war service was mostly in New Mexico and on the frontier.

Larz Anderson, another brother of the general, was represented in the War of the Rebellion by five sons who had honorable records: (1) Nicholas Longworth Anderson was adjutant, lieutenant-colonel, and colonel of the Sixth Ohio Infantry. He was severely wounded at Stone’s River and Chickamauga. He left the service at the close of the war as brevet-major-general.

(2) William Pope Anderson enlisted as a private in the Sixth Ohio Infantry, became sergeant-major and second lieutenant. He was then appointed assistant-adjutant-general with rank of captain. He was slightly wounded in the battle of Shiloh.

(3) Edward Lowell Anderson was first lieutenant and captain in the Fifty-second Ohio Infantry. He was wounded at Jonesboro, but continued in service to the end of the war.

(4) Frederick Pope Anderson was first lieutenant in the One Hundred and Eighty-first Ohio Infantry.

(5) Larz Anderson, Jr., was a mere lad, but served without commission as volunteer aide-de-camp on the staff of Brigadier-General N. C. McLean.

William Marshall Anderson, of Chillicothe, Ohio, another brother of the general, had two sons in the war service: (1) Thomas McArthur Anderson was captain in the Fourteenth U.S. Infantry, and after the war became its colonel, and later a general officer in the Philippines.]

Including the general himself, his brother Charles, and the nephews, ten kinsmen supported the flag of the country in the field. Such a family record is so remarkable as to be worthy of preservation.

To return to the affairs of our military administration of the department and district, the situation was complicated by the fact that Vallandigham had openly declared a purpose to return to Ohio