Accordingly, having seen General Burnside's forces move out of Knoxville, in pursuit of Longstreet, and General Granger's move in, I put in motion my own command to return.
General Howard was ordered to move, via Davis' Ford and Sweet Water, to Athens, with a guard forward at Charleston, to hold and repair the bridge, which the enemy had taken after our passage up. General Jef. C. Davis moved to Columbus, on the Hiwassee, via Madisonville, and the two divisions of the Fifteenth Corps moved to Tellico Plains, to cover a movement of cavalry across the mountains into Georgia to overtake a wagon train which had dodged us on our way up and had escaped by way of Murphy. Subsequently, on a report from General Howard that the enemy held Charleston, I diverted General Ewing's division to Athens, and went in person to Tellico with General Morgan L. Smith's division.
By the 9th, all our troops were in position and we held the rich country between the Little Tennessee and the Hiwassee. The cavalry under Colonel Long passed the mountain at Tellico, and proceeded about 17 miles beyond Murphy, when Colonel Long, deeming his pursuit farther of the wagon train useless, returned on the 12th to Tellico. I then ordered him and the division of General Morgan L. Smith to move to Charleston, to which point I had previously ordered the corps of General Howard.
On the 14th of December, all of my command in the field lay along the Hiwassee. Having communicated to General Grant the actual state of affairs. I received orders to leave on the line of the Hiwassee all the cavalry, and come to Chattanooga with the balance of my command. I left the brigade of cavalry, commanded by Colonel Long, re-enforced by the Fifth Ohio Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Heath, the only cavalry properly belonging to the Fifteenth Army Corps, to its new field of operations. It will thus appear that we have been constantly in motion since our departure from the Big black, in Mississippi, until the present moment. I have been unable to receive, from subordinate commanders the usual full detailed reports of events, and have therefore been compelled to make up this report from my own personal memory, but as soon as possible subordinate reports will be received and duly forwarded.
In reviewing the facts I must do justice to my command for the patience, cheerfulness, and courage which officers and men have displayed throughout in battle, on the march, and in camp. For long periods, without regular rations or supplies of any kind, they have marched through mud and over rocks, sometimes barefooted, without a murmur. Without a moment's rest, after a march of over 400 miles, without sleep for three successive nights, we crossed the Tennessee, fought our part of the battle of Chattanooga, pursued the enemy out of Tennessee, and then turned more than 120 miles north and compelled Longstreet to raise the siege of Knoxville, which gave so much anxiety to the whole country. It is hard to realize the importance of the events without recalling the memory of the general feeling which pervaded all minds at Chattanooga, prior to our arrival. I cannot speak of the Fifteenth Army Corps without a seeming vanity, but, as I am no longer its commander, I assert there is no