I shall endeavor to operate here in such a way as to draw as much of the force from General Bragg's front as possible, and shall keep the enemy as close in the lines of Knoxville as may be. This will, I presume, have the effect to draw forces from Chattanooga for the relief of the forces at Knoxville. In that way I may at least give General Bragg time to recover from any inconvenience he may now feel, and get re-enforcements enough to sustain himself. I may be able to do as much for him here as by joining him at this late day, and possibly may divert the enemy from his purpose more than I should by going to Dalton.
The enemy, no doubt, intends that I should be forced back to Dalton, that I may take my chance of being greatly discomfited. It is not a bad rule to adopt any other than the course which the enemy wishes.
HEADQUARTERS, Near Knoxville, November 29, 1863.
I have just received a dispatch from the President, through General Ransom, directing that I rejoin your army, without delay. I shall proceed to do so to-morrow night or the next day-morning.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. S.-Please communicate with me as to the route that I should take, most likely to be unmolested by the enemy.
HEADQUARTERS, November 29, 1863.
If the enemy is anywhere in your rear, start, at once, to join me here. Have all of the public property hauled off with you. If your rear is exposed for want of cavalry, you can move up and join us, leaving what cavalry you have as picket guard at the river. Let your cavalry put itself in communication with Colonel Hart at Kingston, if you come on to join us. Let Colonel Hart give orders to this picket, and keep us advised of the enemy's movements. If your information of the enemy's movements in your rear is such as to warrant your coming up to us, destroy all public property, such as bridges, that you cannot bring off. Any surplus of provisions give to the citizens.