Tuscumbia, I ordered General Ewing, with the Fourth Division, to cross the Tennessee by means of the gunboats and the scow as rapidly as possible at Eastport, and push forward to Florence, which he did, and that same day a messenger from General Grant floated down the Tennessee, over the Muscle Shoals, landed at Tuscumbia, and was sent to me at Iuka. He bore a short message from the general to the effect; Drop all work on the railroad east of Bear Creek; push your command toward Bridgeport till you meet orders, &c. Instantly the order was executed, and the order of march was reversed and all columns directed to Eastport, the only place where I could cross the Tennessee.
At first I only had the gunboats and coal barge, but the ferry-boat and two transports arrived on the 31st of October, and the work of crossing pushed to the head of column at Florence on the 1st of November, leaving the rear divisions to be conducted by General Blair, and marched to Rogersville and the Elk River. This was found impassable. To ferry would have consumed too much time, and to build a bridge still more, so there was no alternative but to turn up Elk River by way of Gilbertsborough, Elkton, &c., to the stone bridge at Fayetteville; there we crossed Elk and proceeded to Winchester and Decherd.
At Fayetteville I received orders from General Grant to come to Bridgeport with the Fifteenth Army Corps, and leave General Dodge's command at Pulaski and along the railroad from Columbia to Decatur.
I instructed General Blair to follow with the Second and First Divisions by way of New Market, Larkinsville, and Bellefonte, while I conducted the other two divisions by Decherd, the Fourth Division crossing the mountains to Stevenson, and the Third by University Place and Sweeden's Cover.
In person I proceeded by Sweeden's Cover and Battle Creek, reaching Bridgeport at night of November 13.
I immediately telegraphed to the commanding general my arrival and the position of my several divisions, and was summoned to Chattanooga. I took the first boat during the night of the 14th for Kelley's, and rode into Chattanooga on the 15th. I then learned the part assigned me in the coming drama, was supplied with the necessary maps and information, and rode during the 16th, in company with Generals Grant, thomas, William F. Smith, Brannan, and others to a position on the west bank of the Tennessee, from which could be seen the camps of the enemy compassing Chattanooga and the line of Missionary Hills, with its terminus on Chickamauga Creek, the point that I was expected to take, hold, and fortify.
Pontoons, with a full supply of balks and cheeses, had been prepared for the bridge over the Tennessee, and all things prearranged with a foresight that elicited my admiration. From the hills we looked down on the amphitheater of Chattanooga as on a map, and nothing remained but for me to put my troops in the desired position.
The plan contemplated that, in addition to crossing the Tennessee and making a lodgment on the terminus of Missionary Ridge, I should demonstrate against Lookout Mountain, near Trenton, with a part of my command. All in Chattanooga were impatient for action, rendered almost acute by the natural apprehension felt for the safety of General Burnside in East Tennessee. My command