Government to protect it. Arms were sent to different portions of the State, with guards to protect them until they were distributed, a portion of which have had to be withdrawn in accordance with the order.
If we move down on the north side of the river with a force sufficient to do Rosecrans any good, this country will certainly again fall into the hands of the enemy. If I can be allowed to move down the south side of the river, keeping a force between the enemy and our depots here, leaving in the extreme eastern part of the state the minimum force necessary to hold the enemy in check, I feel quite sure we can do Rosecrans some good, either in the way of absolute help or diversions. By looking on the map you will discover the difficulties under which we have been laboring.
In order to satisfy you of our disposition to aid General Rosecrans, if you desire the evacuation of East Tennessee, we can do it at once, but I must say that I think the move would be very unwise. Direct telegraphic communication is this moment opened, and I shall anxiously await a reply, and in any event no time will be lost in the movement of the troops. The enemy's cavalry are close upon us as both ends of our line. Could I be informed more definitely of the details of General Rosecrans' position I could act more understandingly. Our own information from scouts and persons direct from the camp of the enemy indicates that they look upon it as a drawn battle.
A. E. BURNSIDE,
September 27, 1863-6.45 p.m.
Your dispatch just received. My order to you meant simply that you should save Rosecrans from being crushed out, believing if he lost his position you could not hold East Tennessee in any event; and that if he held his position, East Tennessee was substantially safe in any event. This dispatch is in no sense an order. General Halleck will answer you fully.
September 27, 1863-8 p.m.
It was suggested to you, not ordered, that you should move to Rosecrans on the north side of the river, because it was believed the enemy would not permit you to join him if you should move on the south side. Hold your present positions, and send Rosecrans what you can spare in the quickest and safest way. In the mean time hold the remainder as nearly in readiness to go to him as you can consistent with the duty it is to perform while it remains. East Tennessee can be no more than temporarily lost so long as Chattanooga is firmly held.