HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH CORPS,
March 14, 1864.
Commanding Battery G, Fourth U. S. Artillery:
LIEUTENANT: The general commanding regrets exceedingly that the exigencies of the service should occasion the detaching fromtnis corps of your battery. During the time you have served with us your battery has given complete satisfaction both in camp and in action. I have endeavored to express my gratitude due to Lieutenant Wilkeson, who fell at Gettysburg. I renew the same to yourself and the officers and soldiers under your command. Whenever you are permitted to return to the corps it will afford me sincere pleasure.
O. O. HOWARD,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE OHIO,
Morristown, Tenn., March 15, 1864.
GENERAL: I find the enemy still in force on Lick Creek and at Bull's Gap. A division of cavalry, probably about 3,000 strong, has been information which I deem reliable that several batteries of artillery and a large numbe rof wagons have been sent to the rea ron the cars. The animals were all retained at Greeneveille, and the enemy have been unusually active in impressing all the animals in the country and collecting them at Greeneville, where McLaws' division has been for several days. It is currently reported among the rebel soldiers that McLaws' division is to be mounted and is to make a rid into Kentucky. My interpretation of these facts is that McLaws is going into Georgia, that he has sent his artillery and wagons by rail, and intends to march his men and animals by the French Broad road. Possibly the popular interpretation may be the true one, but I think not. He cannot possibly undertgake such an expedition for several weeks to come if it be contemplated. If McLaws' division goes to Georgia, Longstreet's command will be reduced to about an equality with mine. But the removal of the Ninth Corps again leaves me with an inferior force and prevents my taking advantage of the enemy's weakness. If, on the contrary, McLaws' division does not leave, I will be exposed, as soon as the removal of the Ninth Corps is discovered to being driven back across the HOlston. Another very large part of my present command, General Granger's corps, is in much the same condition as the Ninth has been; that is, liable to be called away from me at any moment. The troops know and feel this, and hence do not act with the same feeling as if they were properly a part of this army. Under such circumstances I am able to do almost nothing. If I advance to-day I may be compelled to fall back to-morrow, though able when I started to beat the enemy in my front. I hope I may be given a permanent force which I can rely upon keeping long enough to carry out the campaign which is before me.
In this connection I desire to refer to another matter. Now that the Ninth Corps is taken away, the Twenty-third Corps is the only one properly belonging to this department. I have only one division of