hold Longstreet in check until he gets up, or by skirmishing and falling back can avoid serious loss to yourself, and gain time, I will be able to force the enemy back from here and place a force between Longstreet and Bragg that must inevitably make the former take to the mountain passes by every available road to get back to his supplies. Sherman would have been here before this but for the high water in Elk River driving him some 30 miles up that river to cross.
U. S. GRANT,
CHATTANOOGA, November 14, 1863-10.30 p.m.
Colonel Wilson's dispatch is just coming. Cannot be deciphered before morning. I will answer in full as soon as received. It is of the most vital importance that East Tennessee should be held. Take immediate steps to that end. Evacuate Kingston if you think best. As I said in a previous dispatch, I think seven days more will enable us to make such movements here as to make the whole valley secure if you hold on that time.
U. S. GRANT,
KNOXVILLE, November 14, 1863.
The enemy threw two bridges across the Tennessee near Loudon last night under cover of a strong position on the opposite side, and is making preparations to cross his force. Burnside has ordered Ninth Corps, and White's division, of the Twenty-third, to fall back from Lenoir's, detaining the enemy as much as possible and destroying cotton factory at Lenoir's.
Burnside has decided to collect his force here, and if pushed too hard to move toward the gaps, though he feels greatly relieved to cross his whole force to the east side of the Holston, where he can get supplies and endeavor to battle the enemy in his attempt to dislodge him. It seems to me his division to fall back up the valley is the best step now left open for doing so. He can save at least his cavalry and artillery, but may be compelled to destroy his wagons. At all events he can hold the enemy so strongly as to allow himself six days between here and the mountain passes, and meanwhile something may be done near Chattanooga to call Longstreet back. If Longstreet's forces is three divisions of infantry and all Wheeler's cavalry, this is the best step left open for this army. I shall start back this morning via Lenoir's, and hope to cross the Clinch somewhere between Kingston and Clinton. Shall telegraph to you from Lenoir's if wires are undisturbed when I arrive there.
J. H. WILSON,