move half the force on the north side of the river, leaving the other half on the south side as garrisons to be crushed in detail, as will be the case if we attempt to hold East Tennessee with this movement.
Second: To move down along the line of the railroad as an independent force, leaving a body of troops at Cumberland Gap, another body at Bull's Gap and Rogersville to cover Cumberland Gap and watch the enemy in that part of the State, and small garrisons at Knoxville and Loudon, and to attack the right wing of the enemy about Cleveland, with, say, 15,000 men, acting in concert with Rosecrans and according to his advice.
Third: To move on the south side of the Tennessee through Athens, Columbus, and Benton, past the right flank of the enemy, sending a body of cavalry along the railroad or on its west side, to threaten the enemy's flank and cover the movements of the main body, which, consisting of 7,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry, will move rapidly down the line of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad to Dalton, destroying the enemy's communications; sending a cavalry force to Rome to destroy the machinery, works, and powder-mills at that place, the main body moving rapidly on the direct road to Atlanta, the railroad center, thus entirely destroying the enemy's communications, and breaking up his depots at once; thence moving to such point on the coast where cover can be obtained as shall be agreed upon with you. It is proposed to take no trains, but live upon the country and the supplies at the enemy's depots, destroying what we do not use. If followed by the enemy, as we undoubtedly shall be, Rosecrans will be relieved and enabled to advance and from superior celerity of movement and destroying bridges, &c., in our rear, the chances of occupying [sic] and injury from pursuit are in our favor. Our chief losses would probably be in stragglers.
I have received so little information of the position and force of Rosecrans that it is proper that you should decide which of these plans would be best, and therefore refer to you for decision. I am in favor of the third. All the information we can derive from deserters and citizens from within their lines shows that the enemy suffered very heavy loss and consider it a drawn battle. If Rosecrans is in such position that he can hold his own until he receives help from other quarters. I am satisfied we can hold this country and do the enemy material harm by operating in the direction of the salt-works and Lynchburg, which we were doing with fair chances of success when the President's order arrived. A heavy force of the enemy's infantry, artillery, and cavalry is pressing our forces down the railroad, and now occupy Jonesborough and Greeneville. We will try to stop them at Bull's Gap. Inasmuch as we are ready to move, the earliest possible answer is desirable.
A. E. BURNSIDE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE OHIO,
September 30, 1863-4 p.m.
Your dispatch received. Did you know all the circumstances you would not be surprised at my not having moved to your assistance. The dispatch of General Crittenden-sent by your direction-that the enemy was in retreat and your right rested on Rome, gave me full assurance that you had no need of my assistance, and