Reports of General Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Tennessee.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF TENNESSEE,
Chattanooga, September 4, 1863.
SIR: The advance of Burnside with a heavy force from Kentucky upon East Tennessee at the same time that Rosecrans moved upon Bridgeport induced General Buckner to draw his forces (except those at Cumberland Gap) to Loudon. At that time it was utterly impossible for me to assist him from here. Before the arrival of the re-enforcements from Mississippi (not all up yet) he was threatened in front, while a move was made to cut his connections in this direction. Unable to sustain him with a sufficient force, I ordered his command to fall back to the Hiwassee, where it is in supporting distance. These dispositions were not made without great regret and reluctance, but the force disposable rendered it impossible to hold a line extending so many hundred miles, assailable at any point, without the certainty almost of being cut up in detail. With our present dispositions we are prepared to meet the enemy at any point he may assail, either with a portion or with the whole of t=his forces, and should he present us an opportunity we shall not fail to strike him. My position is to some extent embarrassing in regard to offensive movements. In a country so utterly destitute we cannot for a moment abandon our line of communications, and unable to detach a sufficient force to guard it, we must necessarily maneuver between the enemy and our supplies. The approach of his right column (the heaviest, it will be observed) is directly on our left flank and seriously threatens our railroad. No effort will be spared to bring him to an engagement whenever the chances shall favor us.*
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General S. COOPER,
SEPTEMBER 12, 1863.
Read and returned.
The case demands great activity, with which it is hoped the enemy's purpose may be defeated by fighting his two columns separately. If the weakest can be beaten first the strongest will be attacked afterward, with the advantage which success and re-enforcements will give. In the meantime, it seems feasible to operate effectively on Rosecrans' line of communication by sending out cavalry expeditions.
FIFTEEN MILES SOUTH OF CHATTANOOGA,
September 9, 1863.
The order to General Jones is just what I desired, and renders the evacuation unnecessary at present.+ Burnside's force is not less than
*See Seddon to Bragg, September 12, Part IV, p. 639.
+See Seddon to Bragg, September 7, Part IV, p. 623.