Supplies are the chief trouble; but if the worst comes to the worst, we can live on beef and salt, with such bread as our road ought to carry for us to Ringgold.
Of course there remains now in East Tennessee no rebel force that can come down on our flank that could seriously endanger us moving forward from Chattanooga; but I wish you to dispose your command to guard against that chance. Destroy a considerable section of the railroad above Bull's Gap, bending and twisting the rails or carrying them to Knoxville.
Leave Knoxville and Loudon well guarded, and assemble your effective force near Charleston, on the Hiwassee, prepared by Major 1, if possible, to move in concert with Thomas down by way of Varnell's Station on Dalton.
Order Stoneman to move by the best route available to him so as to report to you. If Johnston refuses us battle, this cavalry will be sent by way of Spring Place, or it may be higher up by the copper mines, to threaten the enemy's right rear.
Order all your forces in Kentucky to be most active, even to feel out through Pound Gap into the valley beyond. I have no apprehension of the enemy interfering with our lines of communication in Kentucky, because we have here in Nashville the essential supplies for six months. Those in the western part of Kentucky ought to watch well the lines, and to arrest all suspicious men hanging about who have no honest employment. Precaution may save us temporary annoyance. Such men are not prisoners of war, but simply men held by us rather than incur the risks of their mischievous acts.
It is useless for us to expect the new cavalry from Indiana. We cannot mount even the veteran cavalry, which should, of course, have precedence. I will be at Chattanooga about May 1.
W. T. SHERMAN,
KNOXVILLE, TENN., April 24, 1864.
Brigadier-General COX, Bull's Gap:
General Sherman directs me to destroy the railroad above Bull's Gap immediately and proceed to carry out his plans. Order General Manson to destroy at once all the bridges above Greeneville and break up and destroy the rails as far as possible, working back this way from the bridges. Let the cavalry push on and destroy the Watauga and Holston bridges, if possible. Commence yourself to-morrow to destroy the road from Lick Creek toward Greeneville. I will send up tools to-night. I have ordered General Hascall's brigade to Bull's Gap to support you. Let the work be pushed forward as rapidly as possible; time is important.
J. M. SCHOFIELD,