would take advantage of it; but in the mean time I want the line of the Hiwassee held. See that Charleston is gained and the bridge held.
Provisions will be sent us to Cotton Port. Send me word promptly of any news that calls for action on my part. You know what I am about here.
You can use the cavalry I send you, but send me back word promptly of the situation of things along the Hiwassee, and any news from Chattanooga.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Tellico, December 9, 1863.
Yours is received. I have ordered General Ewing's division to move on Athens and will also direct Jeff. Davis the same. Secure as quick as possible the Charleston bridge. I don't believe the extent of the report you send, but I know Hooker was only ordered to stay at Ringgold four days and then return to Chattanooga. It may be that the enemy will feel up this way, and we must secure the line of the Hiwassee at once.
If you near of Jeff. Davis, who is marching from Madisonville to Columbus, you may order him to join you at Athens. We will concentrate there, and you may dispose accordingly. Please send a messenger to Davis, especially if the facts developed to-day indicate that the enemy is coming up the valley. If so Grant will be on his heels sure.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH CORPS,
Athens, December 9, 1863
Commanding Department of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have received your order regarding General Davis. All information goes to show that only cavalry has appeared on the line of the Hiwassee. An attempt was made to destroy the bridge at Charleston, but it can be repaired in one day. I have sent my prisoners to do it. I think you would not wish to bring Davis up here as things now look; nevertheless, your order is so explicit that I sent Davis a copy, with instructions to comply with it, but intimating that you might countermand the order before he had marched many miles. I have just heard from him at Columbus; that he has nearly completed a bridge at that place; that the cavalry of the enemy, not more than 1,500 strong, moved back toward Benton. Their object seems to have been to get forage and to ascertain what we might do to Longstreet.