tive to corps organization in this department be adopted and General Stoneman be assigned to command the Cavalry Corps, General Sturgis will probably be the best available officers for the command on the Big Sandy.
The supplies accumulated here will be little more than sufficient for the campaign in East Tennessee. When I commence to move toward the Hiwassee, supplies can be sent there from Chattanooga as fast as they will be required. I think it would not be wise to accumulate supplies there before that time, since it would require a langer force to guard them and might give the enemy some insight into the plan of operations. I will take care to have supplies there in time.
In considering the plan of operations and the results to be accomplished, the following facts are important, viz: The natural line of defense for East Tennessee and Kentucky is across the Holston Valey near Abingdon. The only point in rear which must be held is the French Broad Gap, and this will require but a small force. There are no other routes by which even cavalry in any considerable force can enter the Holston Valley from the east, while there are several gaps in the Cumberland Mountains through which troops can pass nearly as well as through Cumberland Gap. If the railroad can be destroyed far enough above Abingdon that line can be held with less force than any other, and give much greater security to our communications. To accomplish this the railroad should be destroyed as far as New River, including the bridge across that stream. Them the force you propose to have operate from the Big Sandy would probably be sufficient to hold the Holston, and could be supplied by rail from this place.
It will be difficult to drive the enemy as far back as New River, and may require more time and force than can be spared for the purpose. If so, the plan you propose seems to be the only one left. The road can be destroyed so far up the valley as to prevent any invasion by infantry in considerable force, and we will have to rely upon meeting cavalry raids with cavalry.
In my letter to General Grant, sent by Lieutenant Bartlett, I suggested the preservation rather than destruction of this road, with a view to its use after the rebel army shall have been driven from Virginia. But I have no doubt the General-in-Chief has considered this matter fully in fixing upon his plan of operations; hence I will make all preparations to destroy the road as completely as possible.
I shall hope, general, to see you here soon you here soon; meanwhile I will write you fully concerning all matters of importance.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. SCHOFIELD,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO,
Knoxville, Tenn., March 20, 1864.
Brigadier General T. T. GARRARD,
Commanding District of the Clinch, Cumberland Gap:
GENERAL: I have sent a cavalry force, supposed by infantry, to occupy the Holston Valley north of the river, and the Clinch Valley in advance of the road leading from Rutledge to Cumberland Gap. Colonel Garrard is in command of the cavalry. Brigadier General T. J. Wood, who commands the entire force, will have his headquarters
7 R R-VOL XXXII, PT III