TAZEWELL, December 20, 1863-9.15. a.m.
General JOHN G. FOSTER:
GENERAL: I regret to report that this command will be crippled in its movements for want of bread by the use of mills at Powell's River. The troops are barely able to subsist from day to day in this neighborhood. Command will be concentrated at Walker's Ford this afternoon. Supply trains not yet arrived at Cumberland Gap.
O. B. WILLCOX,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE OHIO,
December 20, 1863.
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2. Brigadier-General Cox having reported to the commanding officer of this department for duty, by order of the Secretary of War, is hereby assigned to the command of the Twenty-third Army Corps, and will proceed at once to report to Major General J. G. Parke, at Blain's Cross-Roads.
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By command of Major-General Foster:
JNumbers F. ANDERSON,
Major and Aide-de-camp.
WASHINGTON, December 21, 1863-6 p.m.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
I have had detailed conversations with the President, the Secretary of War, and General Halleck with respect to your project of a campaign in Alabama. It meets the full approval of them all in every respect, not only because it keeps your army active during the otherwise useless weather of the winter, but because it appears to them well conceived and as certain of producing the desired effect as any plan can be. "If it succeeds," said Secretary of War, "Bragg's army become prisoners of war without our having trouble of providing for them." You would be authorized to proceed immediately with its execution but for the anxiety which seems to exist respecting East Tennessee. If Longstreet were expelled from that country you could start for Mobile at once. I suppose General Halleck will communicate with you fully on this subject.
I judge from my conversation with him that he does not understand clearly how an army large enough to make Longstreet's dislodgment certain can be supplied while operating against Rogersville and Bristol, and accordingly I presume that, first, as soon as it is settled that he must be left in that region you will allowed to proceed south with the main body of your forces, leaving, of course, a sufficient number of troops to observe Longstreet and prevent his getting hold of Knoxville, Cumberland Gap, or any other controlling point now in our hands.