Numbers 3. Reports of Major General John G. Foster, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the Ohio, of operations January 1 to February 9.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO,
Knoxville, Tenn., January 29, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this army during the past month:
After the engagement at Mossy Creek on the 29th ultimo, the cavalry and one brigade of infantry occupied that position and the region in front for several miles, subsisting as much as possible on the country, until the 12th instant, when it moved toward Dandridge.
The Fourth, Ninth, and Twenty-third Corps remained in their positions near Blain's Cross-Roads.
As soon as the bridge at Strawberry Plains was completed, the Twenty-third and Fourth Corps crossed and marched toward Dandridge. The Ninth Corps remained at Strawberry Plains.
The necessity for this move arose from the entire exhaustion of all grain and forage for a circuit of 20 miles around the position of the army.
The orders for the infantry were to march to Dandridge, where the cavalry had already arrived, there cross to the south side of the French Broad River by means of the fords (a bridge to be made of wagons and such boats as could be found), and then to occupy the country to the south of the river for the purpose of obtaining the corn and forage with were reported as abundant.
This force, under General Parke, arrived at Dandridge on the 15th, and Harker's brigade, Fourth Corps, commenced to build the bridge of wagons.
On the 16th the cavalry became hotly engaged with the enemy toward Kimbrough's Cross-Roads, and were driven back toward the town.
The enemy pressed hard on the following day, driving the cavalry close to the town and engaging some of the infantry. In the mean time the wagon bridge had been thrown across to what was supposed to be the south bank, and the brigade crossed over, but it was at length ascertained that they were on an island, and that another channel of the river remained to be bridged. As this would occupy six more hours, and as the coming rain would soon make it impossible to get up supplies, which were greatly needed, and as the whole of Longstreet's force was supposed to be in the immediate front, General Parke decided to fall back to Strawberry Plains.
This movement was commenced on the night of the 17th and completed during the two following days.
I immediately moved the whole Cavalry Corps through Knoxville to Sevierville to obtain forage, and gave orders that all stores should be sent down from Strawberry Plains, and that such parts of the bridge should be removed as would permit its being used immediately by the enemy; then to retire on this place preparatory to following our cavalry toward Sevierville.
Owing to the state of the roads the artillery could not be drawn by the animals in their weakened condition and had to be sent down by the railroad. This caused the loss of five caissons, which were