Another small column had marched from Kentucky directly on Cumberland Gap, and by a rapid flank march from Knoxville upon that place General Burnside cut off the retreat of the garrison and forced it to surrender on the 9th of September, capturing 14 pieces of artillery and 2,000 prisoners. His infantry made this forced march of 60 miles in fifty-two hours. A column of cavalry at the same time ascended the valley to Bristol, driving the enemy across the Virginia line, and destroying the railroad bridges over the Holston and Watauga Rivers, to prevent the enemy's return into Tennessee. The main body of Burnside's army was now ordered to concentrate on the Tennessee River from Loudon westward, as as to connect with General Rosecrans' army which reached Chattanooga on the 9th. Paint Rock Pass into North Carolina was also occupied by a small force. The restoration of East Tennessee to the Union was thus effected by skillful combinations, with scarcely any loss on our part.
It was now hoped that there would be no further delay in effecting a junction between the two armies of Burnside and Rosecrans, and had been previously ordered; but the country between Dalton, and the Little Tennessee being still open to the enemy, General Burnside was cautioned to move down by the north bank of the river, so as to secure its fords and cover his own and Rosecrans' communications from rebel raids. With our forces concentrated near Chattanooga, the enemy would be compelled to either attack us in position or to retreat farther south into Georgia, for should he attempt a flank movement on Cleveland, his own communications would be cut off and his army destroyed. Though repeatedly urged to effect this junction with the Army of the Cumberland, General Burnside retained most of his forces in the upper valley, which was still threatened, near the Virginia line, by a small rebel force under General Sam. Jones.
On the 21st of September, Colonel Foster had a skirmish with the enemy near Bristol, on the Virginia line, and on the 10th and 11th of October another sharp engagement took place at Blue Springs. The enemy was defeated with a heavy loss in killed and wounded and 150 prisoners. Our loss was about 100.
After the battle of Chickamauga, when General Rosecrans had fallen back to Chattanooga the enemy pushed forward a column into East Tennessee to threaten Burnside's position at Loudon, and to cover a cavalry raid upon Rosecrans' communications. Unfortunately, General Burnside had occupied Philadelphia and other points on the south side of the river with small garrisons. The enemy surprised some of these forces, and captured 6 guns, 50 wagons, and some 600 or 700 prisoners. The remainder retreated to Loudon, and succeeded in holding the crossing of the river. In the meantime, Jones had moved down on the north side of the Holston River to Rogersville, with some 3,500 cavalry, and surprised our garrison at that place, capturing 4 pieces of artillery, 36 wagons, and 650 men.
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All of which is respectfully submitted.
H. W. HALLECK,
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.