DECEMBER 12, 1863-7 p.m.
(Received 6.40 p.m., 14th.)
I have the honor to report that I arrived here on the 10th. General Burnside turned over the command to me yesterday, and left for Lexington by the Jacksborough and Somerset road this morning.
J. G. FOSTER,
KNOXVILLE, December 12, 1863-7 p.m.
(Received Washington, 7.40 p.m., 14th.)
Washington, D. C.,and
Longstreet is moving leisurely up the valley, foraging as he goes.
There are no certain indications that he will stand a fight if we follow him in force. Our cavalry is constantly harassing his rear, supported by the infantry under General Parke which is now at Rutledge. The infantry is not in physical condition to follow rapidly, the supplies, which are mainly obtained by foraging, being very scanty. The roads, which are bad, are fast becoming impassable for trains by reason of the rain now falling. These obstacles interfere very much with my desire to move up in force and engage Longstreet, wherever he may halt, and may render it impossible in a short time. In that case I will establish a line of intrenched infantry posts from Bull's Gap to Mulberry Gap, and with the cavalry holding the country to the Holston River, wait for a favorable occasion for making a dash at Saltville with the whole mounted force. Please notify me if this meets your approval.
J. G. FOSTER,
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Knoxville, Tennessee, December 12, 1863
Major General G. H. THOMAS,
Commanding Department of the Cumberland:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that,in accordance with orders from Major-General Sherman, I have moved my troops to this point, and am encamped on the south side of the river, about 1 1/2 miles distant.
The relief of Knoxville being the object of the expedition, of which my troops formed a part, having been accomplished, and the enemy being in full retreat, with no possibility of returning, I most respectfully, but most earnestly, request that I be allowed to return to Chattanooga. As is well known, we left the place with scarcely any transportation or supplies. The exigency was urgent, and we came cheerfully to the relief of our suffering and beleaguered brethren in Knoxville. We came directly after fighting a hard battle of three days' duration. We came content to do our duty with cheerfulness and alacrity. I do not care to enlarge upon our privations or trumpet the gallantry of the brave men under my command