it is desirable to move out as soon as and as far as practicable;" also that he could not leave then, trusting that I would "take charge of this matter." My command was compelled for want of subsistence and forage to march from Dandridge to near Sevierville, fording the Holston above Strawberry Plains and crossing on pontoon bridge at Knoxville a march of about 50 miles.
On the 20th, I received a communication from General Sturgis saying:
There is no remaining doubt as to the fact that Longstreet's forces are still in the vicinity of Morristown and no intention are entertained by him of advancing. The question then with us in one purely of forage, and every mile gained now by us in that direction by rapid marching will be so much the less to fight for. You will please, therefore, push as vigorously forward in the general direction of the French Broad as is consistent with the necessary rest and feeding of your men and animals.
On the 21st, I received reports from loyal citizens that the rebel cavalry had crossed, or were crossing, the French Broad in large force near Dandridge. In order to ascertain the truth of the report after consultation with Colonel Palmer, more familiar with all roads and fords than the residents appeared to be, two strong columns under Colonels McCook and Palmer, communicating with each other, were pushed forward in the direction of Dandridge, driving small parties of rebels from the fords and holding them, thereby securing the forage our horses so much needed. Wolford's division of the cavalry, of the Army of the Ohio, was ordered by me to Fair Garden, at the junction of the Dandridge and Sevierville road, with the Newport and Sevierville road.
I ordered Garrard's division of cavalry. Army of the Ohio, to move on the Newport road, leaving one brigade at Little Pigeon, and to guard the two fords near mouth of Boyd's Creek. The foregoing disposition of the troops was made with a view to holding the fords, securing the supplies in the rich Dutch and Irish bottoms of the French Broad and Chucky Rivers-in the vicinity of which two forage trains of the rebels were captured-and if too hard pressed by the enemy's infantry, should he succeed in crossing the river, to fall back in the direction of Maryville, the road to Knoxville being very bad and that place being scarce of subsistence and destitute of forage.
On the 22nd, at Fair Garden, I received from General Sturgis' headquarters a communication stating the general commanding hardly expected the troops to be as far advanced as they are at present, considering the very bad condition of the roads.
On the 22nd, by Special Orders, Numbers 21, Extract 21, headquarters Department of the Ohio, January 21, 1864, at my request I was relieved from duty in the Department of the Ohio and ordered to report to the major-general commanding the Department of the Cumberland.
Leaving Fair Garden on the 23rd, I had the honor to report at headquarters of department on the 28th January.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. ELLIOTT,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Vols., and Chief of Cavalry.
Brigadier General W. D. WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff.