them together; but I believe that we may supply ourselves for the winter, and if we can do [no] more we may drive the enemy out for want or provisions, or force him to come out and fight us. Our position here is, I think, a good one, and important, provided our services are not essential elsewhere. I hope that the Quartermaster-General will send us a good supply of shoes at once; about one-half of our troops are without them.
I remain, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS, Near Rogersville, December 9, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
I am at this point collecting provisions for the troops. There seems to be a great abundance of subsistence stores and forage for immediate wants in this part of the State, and I presume that the enemy must depend upon these in a measure if he continues to occupy Knoxville. I am apprehensive that we cannot remain here without railroad communication, owing to insufficient transportation for our supplies. If the troops are not wanted immediately elsewhere, they had probably better remain here and get out such supplies as may not be consumed by us.
On the night of the 28th ultimo we drove in the enemy's pickets at Knoxville to within 200 yards of his fortifications, and during the night sunk our rifle-pits along his lines at 200 yards from there.
At daylight on the 29th part of McLaws' division and one brigade of Hood's were massed in front of the Loudon fort and made an assault upon it, our line of sharpshooters from the rifle-pits engaging the enemy at the same time along his lines of defenses. The troops marched up to the front very handsomely, and some few went in, but owing to the want of proper precaution to prepare to cross the ditch or proper directions to move around to a point where there were no serious obstructions, the troops halted at the ditch, and after firing over the parapets some half hour they were repulsed with a loss of some 700.
On that day I received a dispatch from the President to hasten to rejoin General Bragg. My orders were given for this move, but as we were starting back I received a dispatch from General Bragg ordering me to join him if practicable.
At the same time the commanding officer at Charleston telegraphed me that the enemy was at Cleveland, which is directly on my road to General Bragg's army. It was hardly possible for me to join General Bragg with the enemy in this position - not possible if the enemy should attempt to prevent it. While I was collecting information about a route through the mountains two messengers came to me from General Bragg, stating that General Bragg, stating that General Bragg was at Dalton and could not aid me should I attempt to join him, and that I was thrown upon my own resources.
About the same time we began to receive rumors that the enemy were advancing upon us to relieve the garrison at Knoxville. It was natural that the enemy should make an effort to succor that garrison, and that the effort would be make in such strength as insured