CHATTANOOGA, December 17, 1863-9.30 a.m.
Brigadier General W. S. SMITH,
Chief of Cavalry, Mil. Div. of the Mississippi, Nashville:
The following dispatch is just received from General Dodge:
One of the scouts has just come in from Jackson Tennessee, He went with Forrest from Mississippi up there, and says General Forrest with, 3,500 to 4,000 men is now there and collecting what force he can, and thinks he will go into Kentucky, and also says he will try and cross Tennessee River. Scout left Jackson on Thursday.
G. M. DODGE,
In your move try and rake this force clean before going farther south. Dodge will probably be in Nashville to-morrow. Learn from him all the particulars you can. To make your force what it should be call on Bowers to order up all the available cavalry from Kentucky to such point as you determine to cross the Tennessee River at. If you can get force enough, and can get on the enemy once, never drop him while there is a chance of taking one. From the country that supports this class of the enemy take all that you want in the shape of horseflesh, provisions, and all that goes to support war. Leave no formidable enemy in Tennessee when you go into Mississippi.
U. S. GRANT,
NASHVILLE, December 17, 1863-12.40 p.m.
Chief of Staff:
Have the orders been given for the concentration of General Crook's division?
W. S. SMITH,
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS.,
Chattanooga, Tennessee, December 17, 1863.
I. Major General George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, will move that portion of his command now encamped in Lookout Valley, except such as may be necessary to protect and guard the railroad, and distribute the troops along the Tennessee River between the Suck and Bridgeport at such points as he may determine.
II. Major General W. T. Sherman, commanding Department of the Tennessee, will immediately take that portion of his command now in the field and proceed to some convenient point on the Tennessee River west of Bridgeport, and there encamp until the railroad from Nashville to Decatur has been completed. Upon the completion of the road or on receipt of orders all the forces will be moved to Decatur, or as near there as may be convenient, excepting only such troops as may be employed in guarding lines of communication, and there remain until further orders.