KNOXVILLE, December 21, 1863-11 p.m.
Your dispatch of 11 a.m. yesterday is received. I am using every effort to collect supplies, and have ordered forward every available man in Kentucky. I applied to General Halleck for my old division of the Ninth Corps, one brigade of which is available at Newport News, Va., but have received no answer. I regret that I have no cipher in which to communicate fully with you. If you are to return to Chattanooga soon, I think it will be better to see it out before I move on the enemy.
J. G. FOSTER,
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Near Blain's Cross-Roads, Tennessee, December 21, 1863.
GENERAL: My forage trains have for the two days last past found it impossible to procure a sufficient supply, and report a great scarcity of forage in the surrounding country.
I have the honor to report this fact, and suggest that a movement, either in advance, on the flank or in retrograde, will be necessary in order that the command may be supplied with the necessary forage.
From the best information I can gather there is nothing this side of Bull's Gap, and the only forage to be obtained is on the south side of the Holston River. I would therefore suggest that my command be ordered to that side of the river, so that we may obtain the forage and subsistence to be afforded by the country to supply our men and animals. I have been induced to offer these suggestions in consideration of the importance of keeping the men and animals of the command in as good condition as possible under the circumstances.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, December 21, 1863.
Send forward all the force that can possibly be spared as fast as possible. I need them, and Kentucky can be defended here. Send only such mounted men as are already mounted and likely to be efficient. Send every man of the infantry and artillery regiments that can be marched and gotten.
You had better send them via Somerset with their own trains, containing such camp equipage as is absolutely necessary. They will also be a protection to supply trains; but not waiting for them.
Hurry forward as fast as their own baggage-wagons can be got along. Captain Dickerson will send forward all available artillery and cavalry horses at once. Please to expedite the movement of re-enforcements by all means in your power.
J. G. FOSTER,