CHARLESTON, ON THE HIWASSEE, December 1, 1863-7 a.m.
General Wilson and Mr. Dana arrived last night and brought me yours of November 29. I have already crossed the Hiwassee, and am marching for Loudon and Knoxville. I have sent a messenger down to mouth of Hiwassee to communicate with Granger, but I think I can beat him in moving fast. I will have, if possible, Burnside hear my guns on the 3rd or 4th at furthest.
Recollect that East Tennessee is my horror. That any military man should send a force into East Tennessee puzzles me. Burnside is there and must be relieved, but when relieved I want to get out, and he should come out too.
I think, of course, its railroad should be absolutely destroyed, its provisions eaten up or carried away, and all troops brought out. Cumberland Gap should be held simply as an outpost of Kentucky, but Burnside must be relieved first and these other things after.
CUMBERLAND GAP, December 1, 1863.
General Willcox has just received from Colonel Graham, commanding his advance cavalry force near Maynardville, a dispatch stating that it is reported in that neighborhood that Burnside had a successful fight with the enemy on the morning of the 29th, in which he inflicted severe loss upon them. It is also reported that Buckner had joined Longstreet. I give the reports for what they are worth.
A brigade of General Willcox's cavalry moved within 8 miles of Knoxville yesterday, but met the enemy in too strong a force to risk an engagement. All the available infantry have moved from this point. I shall be in Tazewell to-night.
J. G. FOSTER,
CHATTANOOGA, December 1, 1863.
Maj. General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding East Tennessee Expedition:
When you start upon your return to this place, after it is known that East Tennessee is cleaned of all formidable bodies of the enemy, if you deem it at all feasible, start a cavalry expedition to strike through into South Carolina to destroy their east and west roads.
A force going in this way should move without transportation, and live entirely on the country. They ought to do all the harm to the roads they can, burn stores accumulated along them, and take all the good horses they find.
If they should succeed in what they go for, it would make but little difference where, within our lines, they should return.
The cavalry for such an expedition can be taken from either Foster or Thomas, or a part of each. I think 1,200 or 1,500 men will be enough. They do not go to fight, but to avoid fighting if possible.