War of the Rebellion: Serial 051 Page 0605 Chapter XIII. THE EAST TENNESSEE CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

(of Frazer's command, which had escaped from Cumberland Gap),

and pursued it beyond Bristol. They damaged the railroad some distance on both sides of Bristol, and returned to Blountsville, 6 miles west of Zollicoffer, on the evening of the 19th.

Corse's brigade having reached Zollicoffer the day before, I determined to attack the enemy at Blountsville before daylight the next morning, and ordered up Williams, with the Forty-fifth Virginia Infantry and the dismounted battalion of Peters' regiment, to aid in the attack. They did not arrive, however, until long after sunrise on the 20th. Apprehending that they might not arrive in time to make the attack before daylight, I directed Colonel C. H. Tyler, who had reached my headquarters a day or two before, to take the Sixteenth Georgia Battalion of cavalry and two companies of the First Tennessee Cavalry that had been cut off from their regiment at Kingsport, and feel the enemy at Blountsville early in the morning and endeavor to draw them on to attack us at Zollicoffer. Corse's brigade, with a field battery, was placed in a strong position to receive them. Colonel Tyler and his men performed the duty assigned them handsomely, and drew the enemy on. Our battery opened somewhat too soon and checked the enemy. They felt Corse cautiously, and finding him strongly posted endeavored to turn his left, but the Forty-fifth and Peters' battalion had come up and were in line on the left to receive them. The skirmishing continued several hours, when the enemy fell back to Blountsville and moved off toward Carter's Depot.

In the meantime, General Burnside had been moving forward by the railroad, and there was some skirmishing at Carter's Depot on the 21st. Williams and his men were hurried back to that place, and on the 22nd General Burnside felt at Carter's Depot a part of the troops that confronted him at Zollicoffer on the 20th.

These movements of the enemy were only for the purpose of ascertaining my position. Having accomplished that purpose, I had no doubt that General Burnside designed engaging my attention at Zollicoffer with his cavalry until he could with a superior force surround and capture the troops at Carter's Depot.

On the 22nd, he addressed me a letter, which I received early in the night, requesting me to warn non-combatants to retire from the villages along the line of railroad, as, in the course of military operations, he would probably fire on the villages. He added that he would not fire on any village before 5 o'clock that evening. His letter was received at my advanced picket about 4.30 p. m., and before that time the enemy had, in an artillery duel with one of my batteries at Blountsville, fired upon and burned the best part of that village.*

My force being altogether too small to enable me to hold both Carter's Depot and Zollicoffer, I withdrew General Williams to the latter place in the night of the 22nd, bringing away all stores and property.

Instead of pressing on toward Zollicoffer, the enemy burned the bridge at Carter's and fell back toward Knoxville, leaving, however, a force superior to mine in my front. I had no doubt that this move was caused by the result of the battle of Chickamauga, news of which reached me (and I presume Burnside also) in the evening of the 22nd . As soon as the necessary transportation could be pro-


*For letter and reply see September 22, Part III, p. 786.