here by spring. We now have three steamers running, and will have two more in a few days. Still two others are in progress of construction. By the means of these boats and such portions of the railroad as can be used, I will endeavor to accumulate supplies in East Tennessee to enable me to fight a battle there with a large army if the spring movements of the enemy should make it necessary.
If Longstreet is not driven from the valley entirely and the road destroyed east of Abingdon, I do not think it unlikely that the last great battle of the war will be fought in East Tennessee. Reports of deserters and citizens show the army of Bragg to be too much demoralized and reduced by desertion to do anything this winter. I will get everything in order here in a few days and go to Nashville and Louisville, and, if there is still a chance of doing anything against Longstreet, to the scene of operations there. I feel deeply interested in moving the enemy beyond Saltville this winter, so as to be able to select my own campaign in the spring instead of having the enemy dictate it for me.
I am, general, &c..,
U. S. GRANT,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Chattanooga, December 17, 1863.
Colonel ELI LONG,
Commanding Second Brigade, Second Cavalry Division:
Orders have been forwarded to Brigadier-General Elliott, commanding First Cavalry Division, to relieve you as soon as practicable. The moment, therefore, that you are so relieved you will move with your whole command toward Chattanooga, reporting in advance to Major-General Thomas the fact of your being relieved, and for further orders, always keeping your command in readiness to move in any direction that may be indicated to you.
In the mean time you will employ yourself in collecting for the use of the army all the quartermaster and commissary stores you can find in your vicinity, leaving to each family enough to subsist them, and giving certificates of the quantity of property so taken.
When relieved you will please transmit to General Elliott these instructions for his guidance.
Small commissary stores will be sent from this place for your command as soon as practicable.
By order of Major General U. S. Grant:
ELY S. PARKER,
CHATTANOOGA, December 17, 1863.
Admiral D. D. PORTER,
Mound City, Illinois:
Can you send two or three light-draught gun-boats over the shoals, if the water gets up sufficiently high to do so, to be used in the Upper Tennessee; they will be of immense service here.
U. S. GRANT,