CAMP ON NORTH SIDE OF TENNESSEE RIVER,
Near Loudon, December 6, 1863.
Chief of Staff, Hdqrs. Department of the Cumberland:
GENERAL: I learn that the steam-boats that were coming up from Chattanooga have returned, finding a difficulty in getting over White's Creek Shoals, 15 to 20 miles below Kingston, where there is but 3 feet of water. Would it not be advisable, as these steam-boats are of so much importance to General Sherman's command, to have their supplies, which have been unloaded, I believe, on this side at the foot of the shoals, hauled (by pressed teams) to a point above the shoals, and the lightest-draught boats at Chattanooga to return, crossing the shoals empty, and load up with stores and proceeding up the river in which there is no further obstruction of importance? I make this suggestion not knowing but what action has been already taken in this matter.
I reached Loudon with my command last night; found no troops there, General Sherman having left at 10 p.m. Friday night, and General Granger's force on Saturday morning. Granger crossed to this side and went up to Knoxville. Sherman crossed the Little Tennessee at Davis' Ford, 8 miles above Loudon, and I presume is now in Knoxville or beyond. I understood that a portion of this force had gone toward the North Carolina mountains to catch a train of several hundred wagons. I have just received an order to push on to Knoxville, all the mounted troops being required to pursue Longstreet, who is making his way toward Virginia between Knoxville and Cumberland Gap. I shall start immediately. The rebel cavalry, reported at 1,000, that was between Loudon and Kingston night before last has all disappeared, and is now all believed to be beyond Knoxville. I have ventured to communicate these facts and suggestions to you because I have an opportunity to do so by a courier just starting, and General Sherman's communications with you are no doubt very uncertain.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
WM. J. PALMER,
HDQRS. DEPT. AND ARMY OF THE Tennessee,
Maryville, December 6, 1863
I. The Fourth Corps, Maj. General Gordon Granger commanding, will move to-morrow to Knoxville, Tennessee reporting to Major-General Burnside.
II. The Eleventh Corps, Major-General Howard commanding will march to-morrow for Athens, Tennessee via Davis' Ford and Sweet Water. General Howard will send a guard to Charleston.
III. The Fifteenth Corps, Major General F. P. Blair, jr., commanding, will march to-morrow for Tellico Plains via Morganton.
IV. The division commanded by Brigadier General Jeff. C. Davis will march to-morrow via Madisonville to Columbus, on the Hiwassee.
V. All the cavalry now with this army will report to Colonel Long, and march slowly to Tellico Plains via the ford above Tellico River.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER,