Cross-Roads to Strawbery Plains, where I received orders o encamp the command, with the exception of one brigade, which was ordered to take position on the south bank of the river Holston. I accordingly ordered the Second Brigade, First Division, commanded by Colonel Peirce, of the Twenty-Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, to take position on the south bank of the river Holston, posting two regiments on College Hill to the right of the railroad bridge, and the balance of his brigade, consisting of three regiments, to a position on the left of the bridge, with instructions to picked all roads leading to the railroad bridge.
On the evening of the 20th, a detachment of the enemy made a dash on our pickets on the Dandridge road, but were promptly met and repulsed. During the evening I received instructions to march the command across the bridge and leave a strong picket force to protect the men engaged in destroying the bridge. The command crossed at 9 p. m., and the bridge was destroyed during the night. The pickets were withdrawn at 10 o'clock the next morning, crossing the river on a flat without molestation.
On the morning of the 21st, I ordered Colonel Morrison, commanding First Brigade, to relieve troops of the Twenty-third Cops stationed to cover the bridge. The Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers garrisoned the block-house, and Lieutenant Gitting's battery was placed in a position commanding the opposite approaches to the bridge, supported by the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers. The Twentieth Michigan Volunteers was placed on the road leading to Blain's Cross-Roads, picketing the river to the left. Colonel Peirce's brigade was stationed 2 miles below, guarding the fords to the right. Colonel Collins' brigade (Second Division) was held in reserve.
At about 11 a. m. the enemy made their appearance in force on the south bank of the river, placing 6 guns in position and opening a severe fire on my forces, evidently determined to dislodge them for the purpose of saving the bridge, which was in flames at the time. I ordered Lieutenant Gittings to open fire on the enemy, which he did vigorously, and was replied to by the enemy's batteries, but without any material damage to my command. This artillery duel was kept up for nearly four hours without cessation, when the enemy were compelled to abandon their position and retreat out of sight.
The bridge being completely destroyed, I received instructions to move my command during the night of the 21st toward Knoxville.
The command moved at 3 a. m. of the 22nd, Colonel Morrison bringing up the rear whit his brigade. Two pieces of artillery having been left without transportation (belonging to another corps), and not wishing to leave or destroy them, I appealed to the men of my command, and they cheerfully manned the ropes and dragged the guns and limbers to within 7 miles of Knoxville, when horses were obtained to take them the remainder of the distance.
At 12m. on the 22nd, I halted the command on the road within 7 miles of Knoxville, when Colonel Morrison reported to me the enemy's cavalry following in his rear in force. I received instructions to take a position on the right of the road connecting whit General Manson. Remaining in said position for some time, and the enemy showing no disposition to attack us, I received instructions to continue my march toward Knoxville. I marched the command to within 3 1\2 miles of the city; again formed line of battle awaiting the attack of the enemy. They advanced their skirmishers quite boldly, and occupied a commanding crest a very short distance in front of