It will be readily seen that under no circumstances could we have reached even the neighborhood of General Rosecrans' forces during that battle. The troops were moved in that direction as rapidly as possible; many dispatches passed between General Halleck and myself after this, in reference to going to Rosecrans' assistance after he had established himself in Chattanooga and some misunderstandings occurred in regard to the purport of these dispatches. I was averse to doing what would in any way weaken our hold in East Tennessee, and he was anxious lest Rosecrans should not be able to hold Chattanooga. He was not disturbed at Chattanooga, and we held our ground in East Tennessee, so that what occurred in no way affected the result.
By the 30th, the whole of the Ninth Corps had arrived numbering about 6,000 men. General White's division had been sent to Loudon and Colonel Wolford's cavalry had been sent to re-enforce Colonel Byrd, with instructions to connect with General Rosecrans' cavalry. This force was all on the south side of the Holston River.
At this time our advance up the valley was at Bull's Gap, which was held by General [Colonel] Carter, with Colonel [General] Hascall in support at Morristown.
We experienced great difficulty in getting supplies across the mountains, and many of the men were suffering for clothing.
On the 5th of October, General Willcox reported to me from Cumberland Gap with four new regiments of Indiana troops, and was ordered to Morristown, and from thence to Bull's Gap.
I now determined to push our advance farther up the valley and for that purpose sent the Ninth Corps, under Brigadier General R. B. Potter, together with all the cavalry (excepting Byrd's and Wolford's brigades), under General Shackelford, in that direction; they were joined by a division of General Willcox at Bull's Gap on the 8th. Colonel Hoskins' brigade, which was at Morristown, was ordered to report to General Willcox. I left Knoxville on the morning of the 9th and overtook our forces on the same day at Bull's Gap.
On the following morning the advance was ordered and at Blue Springs, midway between Bull's Gap and Greeneville the enemy were found, posted in heavy force and a strong position, between the wagon road and railroad to Greeneville. Our cavalry occupied him with skirmishing until late in the afternoon. Colonel Foster's brigade was sent around to the rear of the enemy, with instructions to establish himself on the line over which he would be obliged to retreat, at a point near Rheatown. It was not desirable to press he enemy until Colonel Foster had time to reach this point. I directed Captain Poe (my chief engineer) to make a reconnaissance of the enemy's position, with a view to making the attack at the proper time. The ground was selected upon which the attacking force was to be formed, and at half past 3 o'clock, believing sufficient time had been given to Colonel Foster to reach the desired point, I ordered General Potter to move up his command and endeavor to break through the center of the enemy's line. By 5 p.m he had formed General Ferrero's division for the attack. When the order to advance was given, this division moved forward in the most dashing manner, driving the enemy from his first line.
During the night he retreated and we pursued early in the morning, driving him again beyond the Watauga River, beyond which point our cavalry was directed to hold him. Colonel Foster's brigade,