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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 29, Part 2 (Bristoe, Mine Run)
Page 726 OPERATIONS IN N.C., VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLI.

I have been disappointed by the retreat of General Bragg from Chattanooga, which I saw defeated the purpose for which Longstreet's corps has been sent by way of Atlanta. Could this have been foreseen, it would no doubt have been better to have carried out the original design, and sent him by way of Bristol, to attack Burnside from the east. The information communicated by General Jones is confirmatory of the inexplicable surrender of Cumberland Gap. This opens to the enemy approaches into Southwest Virginia and gives them the command of that portion of East Tennessee which otherwise General Jones is confirmatory of the inexplicable surrender of Cumberland Gap. This opens to the enemy approaches into Southwest Virginia and gives them the command of that portion of East Tennessee which otherwise General Jones would have been able to defend against such force as the enemy could under existing circumstances detach. The disaffected population in East Tennessee and Northwest North Carolina will materially aid the enemy and embarrass our future operaions.

General Bragg, after leaving Chattanooga, moved toward the mountains in a southwest direction, and reports that he was unable to bring the enemy to battle. I had previously telegraphed to him that from his reports I inferred the plan of Rosecrans to be to cause him to evacuate Chattanooga, and then to make a junction with Burnside, and urged upon him, as had been previously done, the importance of prompt action and the advantage of attacking the enemy while his columns were separated. I conversed freely with General Longstreet, and he seemed to concur with me in the propriety of the most active operations, both by attack upon the enemy and expeditions against his lines of communication. It is most unfortunate that Burnside should have been permitted to get possession of that portion of Tennessee which alone could have enabled him to continue his operations independently of the base on which he had relied for supplies. I can but hope, however, that with the large army which General Bragg commands he will recover by force the country out of which he seems to have been maneuvered by the enemy, and this reasonable hope is sustained by the dispatch which has just come in from Lafayette, bearing date 15th instant:

The enemy has retired before us at all points. We shall now turn on him in the direction of Chattanooga.

Thus, you see, is to be fulfilled my apprehension as communicated to him that, if Rosecrans could induce him to evacuate Chattanooga, by demonstrations upon his line of communication, he would then reverse his movement to make a junction with Burnside at Chattanooga, and there we shall probably have to fight the whole force of the enemy in an intrenched position, unless it may be possible so to confine him as to compel him to march out for the want of subsistence. The numerical superiority of the enemy, and their vast means of transportaiton, offer serious objections to any attempt on our part to besiege him. The opportunity has been lost which was presented in the earlier stages of the campaign, and the question now is, what is the best which it remains for us to do? On this point, if you should have the necessary leisure, I would be glad to have your views.

The demonstrations of the enemy in your front have very probably resulted from the knowledge that Longstreet's corps had been detached. I cannot imagine how the information was acquired at so early a date as that which you mention. I have despaired in the present condition of Richmond of being able to keep secret any movement which is to be made from or through this place. When


Page 726 OPERATIONS IN N.C., VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 29, Part 2 (Bristoe, Mine Run)
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