beyond Ringgold, and he wanted me to come forward to turn the position.
He was not aware at the time that Howard, by moving through Parker's Gap toward Red Clay, had already turned it, so I rode forward to Ringgold and found the enemy had already fallen back of Tunnel Hill. He was already out of the Valley of the Chickamauga and on ground whence the waters flow to the Coosa. He was out of Tennessee.
I found General Grant at Ringgold, and, after some explanation as to breaking up the railroad from Ringgold back to the State line, as soon as some cars loaded with wounded could be pushed back to Chickamauga Depot, I was ordered to move slowly and leisurely back to Chattanooga.
On the following day the Fifteenth Corps destroyed absolutely and effectually the railroad from a point half way between Graysville and Ringgold back to the State line, and General Grant, coming to Graysville, consented that, instead of returning to Chattanooga, I might send back all my artillery, wagons, and impediments, and make a circuit by the north as far as the Hiwassee.
Accordingly, on the morning of November 29, General Howard moved from Parker's Gap to Cleveland, General Davis by way of McDaniel's Gap, and General Blair, with two divisions of the Fifteenth Corps, by way of Julien's Gap, all meeting at Cleveland that night. Here another good break was made in the Dalton and Cleveland road. On the 30th, the army moved to Charleston, General Howard approaching so rapidly that the enemy evacuated with haste, leaving the bridge but partially damaged, and 5 car loads of flour and provisions on the north bank off the Hiwassee. This was to have been the limit of our journey. Officers and men had brought no baggage or provisions, and the weather was bitter cold.
I had hardly reached the town of Charleston when General Willson arrived with a letter from General Grant at Chattanooga, informing me that the latest authentic accounts from Knoxville were to the 27th, at which time General Burnside was completely invested, and had provisions only to include the 3rd of December; that General Granger had left Chattanooga for Knoxville by the river road, with a steam-boat following him in the river, but the general feared Granger could not reach Knoxville in time, and ordered me to take command of all troops moving for the relief of Knoxville, and hasten to General Burnside. Seven days before we had left our camps on the other side of the Tennessee, with two days' rations, without a change of clothing, stripped for the fight, with but a single blanket or coat per man, from myself to the privates included. Of course, we then had no provisions save what we gathered by the road, and were ill-supplied for such a march. But we learned that 12,000 of our fellow soldiers were beleaguered in the mountain town of Knoxville, 84 miles distant; that they needed relief, and must have it in three days. This was enough, and it had to be done.
General Howard that night repaired and planked the railroad bridge, and at daylight the army passed the Hiwassee and marched to Athens, 15 miles. I had supposed, rightfully, that General Granger was about the mouth of Hiwassee, and sent him notice of my orders; that the general had sent me a copy of his written instructions, which were full and complete, and that he must push for Kingston, near which we would make a junction. But by the time I reached Athens I had had time to study the geography, and sent
37 R R-VOL XXXI, PT II