Colonel Gilbert's brigade, reaching there on the 9th day of September, after a march of 60 miles in fifty-two hours. Dispositions were made to assault the place, but before moving I demanded from Colonel Frazer, who was in command of the garrison, the surrender of his forces. The demand was complied with, and the garrison of nearly 2,500 men, with its materiel and armament, fell into our hands.*
We were now in possession of all the important points in East Tennessee, and in the midst of friends. WE found the people generally loyal and disposed to do all in their power for our comfort and welfare. Nothing could be better than the conduct of the officers and men of the Twenty-third Corps. From the time it left Kentucky, their labors were most arduous and difficult, but were performed with the greatest accuracy and efficiency.
After the surrender of Cumberland Gap, I directed General Shackelford's and Colonel Gilbert's brigades to return to Knoxville, and left Colonel De Courcy's division (then under command of Colonel Lemert) as a garrison to the place.
Before leaving the gap, I received the following dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-FIRST ARMY CORPS,
CHATTANOOGA, September 10, 1863.-2 a.m.
Major General AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE,
Commanding Department of the Ohio, Tennessee River:
SIR: I am directed by the general commanding the Department of the Cumberland to inform you that I am in full possession of this place, having entered it yesterday at 12m., without resistance.
The enemy has retreated in the direction of Rome, Ga., the last of his force, cavalry, having left a few hours before my arrival. At daylight I made a rapid pursuit with my corps, and hope that he will be intercepted by the center and right, the latter of which was at Rome.
The general commanding department requests that you will move down your cavalry and occupy the country recently covered by Colonel Minty, who will report particulars to you, and who has been ordered to cross the river.
T. L. CRITTENDEN,
This information relieved me from any apprehension in reference to General Rosecrans, and decided me in the determination to occupy all the important points above Knoxville, and, if possible, reach the salt-works beyond Abingdon. Sufficient forces were left at Kingston and Loudon, and Colonel Byrd, who was stationed at Kingston, was ordered to communicate with the cavalry of General Rosecrans in the manner indicated in the above dispatch.
While at Knoxville, I received from General Halleck a dispatch# with the following directions:
Hold the gaps of the North Carolina mountains, the line of the Holston River, or some point, if there be one, to prevent access from Virginia, and connect with General Rosecrans, at least with you cavalry.
As before mentioned, I had already given orders to Colonel Byrd to occupy Athens, and, if possible, Cleveland, thus connecting with the cavalry forces of General Rosecrans.
This order of General Halleck's required me to hold a line of near 200 miles in length, and I proceeded to obey it. A heavy force of the enemy, under the rebel General Jones, was in the Upper Tennessee
*For correspondence relating to the surrender, see p. 615.
#See Halleck to Burnside, September 11. Halleck' report, Part I, p. 34.