HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Camp Burnside, Ky., February 8, 1864.
[Brigadier General E. E. POTTER,
Chief of Staff:]
GENERAL: I have the honor to state that my command reached here several days since, and is now detained on account of scarcity of rations and forage at the post. I expected on my arrival here to replenish my trains with the necessary forage and rations, but finding none of either here was compelled to send back to Hall's Gap for them. The train has not yet returned. As soon as it returns I will move directly on unless otherwise ordered.
I deem it proper to state that I have examined the roads for some distance beyond this toward Knoxville and find them in a most dreadful condition; indeed, I may say impassable for loaded trains. I am satisfied it will take me nearly one week to get my train to the top of the mountain from this place, only 8 miles. The most of my teams are young and unbroken mules, and many of them have already given out and been sent back to Camp Nelson.
I have seen and conversed with General Carter and others, and all express the opinion that I cannot possibly get through with my train.
I learn also that all horses and mules have been ordered back to Kentucky on account of the scarcity of forage in the region of the army. This being true, I was at some loss to know whether the general commanding desired me to bring with me any cavalry. I have with me the Tenth Michigan Cavalry, and was compelled when I sent my train back to Hall's Gap to send that with it in order to procure forage until the train returned.
If the general desires, under all the circumstances, for my command to remain here until the roads are in a better condition, I can use them to a great advantage in repairing the roads. There are but few hands at work on them near the point where the work is greatly needed, and their progress is necessarily slow. I can subsist my men here now, as the boats are beginning to arrive, two reaching here this morning. Several others will be up as soon as they can be lighted so as to enable them to get over the shoals some 40 miles below.
I make this suggestion, believing from what I have seen and from what I have heard from others who have just passed over the road that it will be utterly impossible for me to get through with my train. I will do, however, as I am directed.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SPEED S. FRY,
Washington, D. C., February 8, 1864.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
DEAR GENERAL: The following is a copy of a telegram sent to your address this day:
General Thomas has directed Colonel Easton to call upon Colonel Donaldson for 3,000 more wagons and harness, 4,000 more horses, 23,000 more mules: first cost, $4,250,000: monthly addition to wages and forage, not less than $500,000. Can so much be necessary, and when?