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BATTLE OF BLUE SPRINGS.
► Oct, 10.
• Oct. 10.
Oct. 10, 11.
Ridge to the tunnel of the Knoxville and Chattanooga railway, not far from the Chickamanga River. While the two armies are thus confronting each other, with a space of only three or four miles between them at furthest, let us see what was going on between Burnside and Longstreet in the great Valley of East Tennessee.
We have observed how little difficulty Burnside encountered in throwing his army into the Valley of East Tennessee, and taking position at Knoxville. It was because the Confederates were then moving to re-enforce Bragg at Chattanooga. Halleck ordered Burnside to concentrate his forces in that direction, but circumstances prevented his strict obedience, so he set about the task of keeping the valley clear of armed and organized Confederates, who were threatening it at different points. In this business his forces were, for awhile, considerably diffused, and had many lively experiences. Colonel Foster encounteredo a considerable force near Bristol,
• Sept. 21, on the eastern border of the State ; and a little later there was a smart but desultory engagement during two days at Blue Springs, not far from Bull's Gap. To that point the Confederates had pressed down. Burnside then had a cavalry brigade at Bull's Gap, supported by a small force of infantry at Morristown. He dispatched a body of horsemen, by way of Rogersville, to intercept the retreat of the Confederates, and advanced with infantry and artillery to Bull's Gap. Cavalry were then thrown forward to Blue Springs,' where the Confederates, under General Sam. Jones, were in considerable force. After a desultory fight for about twenty-four hours," the Confederates broke and fled, leaving their dead on the field. They were pursued and struck from time to time by General Shackleford and his cavalry, and driven out of the State. The latter captured a fort at Zollicoffer, burned the long bridge at that place and five other bridges, destroyed a large amount of rolling stock on the railway, and did not halt until he had penetrated Virginia ten miles beyond Bristol. In THE BATTLE OF BLUE Springs, and the pursuit, the Nationals lost about one hundred men in killed and wounded. The loss of the Confederates was a little greater.
When Shackleford returned from the chase, he took post at Jonesboro' with a part of his command, while another portion, under Wilcox, encamped at Greenville, and two regiments and a battery under Colonel Garrard of the Seventh Ohio Cavalry, were posted at Rogersville. There, at daybreak on the 6th of November, Garrard was attacked by a portion of Sam. Jones's troops, under General W. E. Jones, almost two thousand strong.
It was a surprise. The Nationals were routed, with a loss of seven hundred and fifty men, four guns, and thirty-six wagons. This disaster created great alarm at Jonesboro' and Greenville, and Shackleford's troops at those places fled back in great haste to Bull's Gap. At the same time, Jones's troops, not doubting Shackleford's horsemen would be after them in heavy force, were flying as swiftly toward the Virginia line, in the opposite direction. In a short space of time there was a wide space of country between the belligerents.
While Burnside was thus engaged in spreading his army so as to cover many points southward of the Holston and Tennessee rivers, Longstreet was ordered to make his way up the line of the East Tennessee and Georgia railway, to seize Knoxville, and drive the Nationals out of East Tennessee.
LONGSTREET CROSSES TIIE TENNESSEE RIVER.
He advanced swiftly and secretly, and on the 20th of October he struck a startling blow at the outpost of Philadelphia, on the railway southwest from Loudon, then in command of Colonel Wolford with about two thousand horsemen, consisting of the First, Eleventh, and Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry, and Forty-fifth Ohio Mounted Infantry. Wolford had just weakened his force at that point, by sending two regiments to protect his trains moving to his right, which, it was reported, were in danger; and, while in that condition, he was assailed on front and flank by about seven thousand Confederates. He fought this overwhelming force gallantly for several hours, hoping the sound of cannon would bring him aid from Loudon. But none came, and he cut his way out with a desperate struggle, losing his battery and over thirty wagons. He lost very few men, and took with him over fifty of the Confederates as prisoners. The detachment he had sent out (First and Eleventh Kentucky), under Major Graham, to protect his trains four miles distant, found them in possession of Longstreet's vanguard. Graham instantly recaptured them, drove the Confederates some distance, and made a number of them prisoners. He was, in turn, attacked by a greatly superior force, and, in a running fight toward Loudon, to which Wolford fled, lost heavily.'
When Burnside heard of the disaster southward of Loudon, he hastened to Lenoir Station, on the railway, where the Ninth Army Corps was encamped, and took command of the troops in person, having received from General Grant a notice of Longstreet's approach, and an order for him to fall back, lure the Confederates toward Knoxville, intrench there, and hold the place to the last extremity. Grant saw with satisfaction the blunder of Bragg, in detaching Longstreet to fight Burnside, and he resolved to assail the Confederates on the Missionaries' Ridge immediately, and in the event of success, to send a sufficient force to assist the troops at Knoxville, and possibly to capture Longstreet and his command. With this view he had bidden Burnside to hold on to Knoxville with a firm grasp, as long as possible, until he should receive succor in some form.
Longstreet, meanwhile, was pressing rapidly forward. By a forced march he struck the Tennessee River at Hough's Ferry, a few miles below Loudon, crossed it on a pontoon bridge there, and pressed on toward the right flank of Burnside, at Lenoir Station. At the same time Wheeler and Forrest were dispatched, with cavalry, by way of Marysville, across Little River, to seize the heights on the south side of the Holston, which commanded Knoxville, the grand objective of Longstreet—the key to East Tennessee. Perceiving the danger threatened by this flank movement, and in obedience to his instructions, Burnside sent out a force on the Loudon road, under General Ferrero, to watch and check the foe, and secure the National trains, and, at the same time, ordered the whole force to fall back as rapidly as possible to Knoxville. A portion of the Ninth Corps, under General Hartranft, was
. advanced to Campbellville Station, at the junction of the Lenoir and Kingston roads, about sixteen miles from Knoxville, and there the whole force was rapidly concentrated. And there it was so closely pressed, that Burn
i Wolford lost of his command that day 824 men, with six guns; and he took 111 prisoners. About 100 men were killed on each side. Longstreet captured in all, before he reached the Tennessee at London, 650 Union troops.
LONGSTREET INVESTS KNOXVILLE.
. Nov. 6,
side found it necessary to abandon his trains or fight. He chose the latter
Taking advantage of this check, Burnside moved on to the shelter of his
> 1863. of November. The main body of the Confederates were then near, and, on the morning of the 18th, Longstreet opened some guns on the National works, sharply attacked Sanders's advanced right, composed of four regiments, who offered determined resistance, drove them from the ridge they occupied, and making his head-quarters at the fine mansion of R. H. Armstrong, near the bank of the Holston, less than a mile from Fort Sanders, planted batteries a little in advance of it. In the attack on Sanders's right, that leader was killed, and the National loss,
i Among the slain was Lieutenant P. M. Holmes, son of Professor Oliver Wendell Holmes, of Charlestown, Massachusetts. On his breast he wore the badge of the Bunker's Hill Club, on which was engraved the line from Horace, quoted by General Warren, just before his death on Bunker's Hill—" Dulce et decorum est, pro patriâ mori."—" It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country.”
? Knoxville is on the northern bank of the Holston River, one of the main streams that form the Tennessee River, and a large portion of it stands on a table-land, 150 feet above the river, about a mile square in area. On the northeast is a small creek, running through a deep ravine, beyond which is Temperance Hill. Still farther to the east is Mayberry Hill. On the northwest the table-land slopes down to a broad valley, along which lies the railway. On the southwest boundary of the town is another creek, flowing through a ravine, beyond which is College Hill. Farther to the southwest is a high ridge, running nearly parallel with the road that enters Knoxville from below, on which, at the time we are considering, was an unfinished work, afterward known as Fort Sanders, so named in honor of General Sanders, who lost his life near. College Hill was fortified with a strong work carrying a piece of siege artillery. On the height near the Summit House was another work. There were two forts on Temperance Hill, and on each of two other eminences near was a battery. On the principal height, south of the Holston, was a fort, and in the town, near the street leading to the railway station, was a considerable work. Extending around the town, from river to river, was a line of rife-pits and breastworks. The fortifications for the defense of Knoxville were constructed under the skillful direction of Captain Poe, of Burnside's engineers.“ Under Poe's hands,” said a participant, “ rifle-pits appear as if by magic, and every hill-top of the vast semicircle around Knoxville, from Temperance Hill to College Hill, is frowning with cannon and bristling with bayonets.”
3 The One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois, Forty-fifth Ohio, Third Michigan, and Twelfth Kentucky.
• General Sanders was killed in a field, a short distance from the residence of Mr. Armstrong, on the left of the road leading to the town. The bullet that killed him was from a sharp-shooter (supposed to have been young
SHERMAN'S TROOPS MOVING EASTWARD.
beside, was about one hundred.' Longstreet now nearly invested Knoxville, and began a close siege. Wheeler, Forrest, and Pegram were sent to cut off Burnside's supplies and line of retreat.
While Longstreet was pressing the siege of Knoxville, stirring events occurred in the vicinity of Chattanooga, which had an important bearing upon the Confederate cause in East Tennessee. Grant, as we have observed, intended to attack Bragg immediately after Longstreet left him, so as to relieve Burnside, but such was the condition of his army-not yet supplied with food and munitions of war, his artillery horses mostly broken down, and few others remaining fit for active cavalry service—that he was constrained to wait for the arrival of Sherman with the most of the Fifteenth Army Corps, then on the line of the Memphis and Charleston railway, eastward of Corinth, repairing the road as they moved toward Stevenson. They were there in obedience to an order of General Grant, on the 22d of September, then at Vicksburg, to proceed immediately to the help of Rosecrans at Chattanooga. Sherman's corps was then lying in camp along the line of the Big Black River. He was first directed to send only one division; and on the same afternoon Osterhaus was moving to Vicksburg, there to embark
for Memphis. On the following day. Sherman was ordered by . Sept. 22,
Grant to the same destination, with the remainder of his corps.
Tuttle's division was left behind, with orders to report to General McPherson ; and a division of the corps of the latter, under General J. E. Smith, already on the way to Memphis, was placed under Sherman's command.
The water was low in the Mississippi, and the vessels bearing the last of Sherman's troops did not reach Memphis until the 3d of October. There he received instructions from Halleck to conduct his troops eastward, substantially along the line of the Memphis and Charleston railway, to Athens, in Alabama, and then report by letter to General Rosecrans, at Chattanooga.
The troops were moved forward, and on Sunday, the 11th, Sher
man left Memphis for Corinth, in the cars, with a battalion of the Thirteenth Regulars as an escort. When, at noon, he reached the Colliersville Station, he found a lively time there. About three thousand Confederate cavalry, with eight guns, under General Chalmers, had just attacked the Sixty-sixth Indiana (Colonel D. C. Anthony), stationed there. Osterhaus had already pushed on to the front of Corinth, and had aroused to activity the Confederates in that region. This attack was one of the first fruits. With his escort Sherman helped beat off the assailants, and then, moving on, reached Corinth that night.
Gist, mentioned in the next note), sent from a window in the tower of Armstrong's house. He was taken to the Lamar House, in Knoxville, and died the next day (Nov. 19), in the bridal chamher of that hotel.
His body was buried at midnight, in the Presbyterian churchyard at Knoxville, after the celebration of the impressive funeral service of the Protestant Episcopal Church, by the Rev. Mr. Hume.
1 In this engagement Mr. Armstrong's house was considerably injured, it being filled with sharp-shooters, upon whom volleys of bullets were poured. These passed through windows and doors. When the writer visited and sketched the house, in the spring of 1866, he saw a bullet lodged in the back of a piano, and the bloodstains upon the stairs leading down from the tower, made by the ebbing of the life-current of a young amateur sharp-shooter, a nephew of Judge Gist, of Charleston, South Carolina, who had been amusing himself by firing from a window in the tower. He was shot between the eyes, the ball passing through his head and into the wall behind him. He died while his comrades were carrying him to a bedroom below.
? The Fifteenth (Sherman's) Corps was composed of four divisions, commanded respectively by Generals B J. Osterhaus, M, L, Smith, J. M. Tuttle, and Hugh Ewing.
SHERMAN'S TROOPS NEAR CHATTANOOGA.
* October 27,
Sherman's troops engaged in repairing the road were continually annoyed by Confederate cavalry under General S. D. Lee, whose force, about five thousand strong, was composed of the brigades of Roddy and Ferguson. With these, Osterhaus's division, supported by M. L. Smith's (J. E. Smith's covering the working parties), was constantly skirmishing. Finally, Lee attempted, near Tuscumbia, to dispute the further advance of the Nationals, when General Frank Blair took the advance divisions and soon swept away the opposing force. On that day Sherman received a dispatch from Grant, then at Chattanooga, who, fearing the Confederates, reported to be gathering in force at Cleveland on his left, might break through his lines and make a dash on Nashville, ordered Sherman to drop all work on the railway and move with his entire force to Stevenson. He assured Sherman that in the event of the Confederates moving on Nashville, his forces were “the only ones at command that could beat them there." I
Fortunately, Sherman's forethought had caused a supply of means, at this critical moment, for his army to cross the Tennessee River, a movement which the general had expected to be very difficult, with the Confederates in strong force hovering around him. He had requested Admiral Porter to send up gun-boats from Cairo, to assist him in that perilous task. He did so, and on the day when, in obedience to Grant's call, Sherman marched to Eastport, on the river, he found two gun-boats there. Three other vessels soon arrived, and on the 1st of November he crossed and pushed on eastward, Blair covering his rear. He went by way of Fayetteville, Winchester, and Decherd, in Tennessee, and then down to Stevenson and Bridgeport, arriving at the latter place on the 14th. On the following day he reported to Grant at Chattanooga, in person.
Grant had been somewhat anxious about Burnside's situation, for he could not send him aid when Longstreet advanced, though strongly importuned to do so, especially by Halleck, who deplored the danger of losing Knoxville, and with it East Tennessee. But Grant had plans for relief, which he could not communicate to the General-in-Chief, but which were perfectly satisfactory to Mr. Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War, then at head-quarters in Chattanooga. If, as Grant believed he could, Burnside should hold out at Knoxville until Sherman's approaching re-enforcements should arrive, he felt certain that a double victory might be obtained, for he could then scatter the forces of Bragg on the Missionaries' Ridge, and by such blow possibly so demoralize and weaken Longstreet's force as to compel him to raise the siege of Knoxville. He sent Colonel Wilson, of his staff, accompanied by Mr. Dana, to Knoxville, to communicate his plans to Burnside, and immediately after Sherman's arrival he proceeded to put them into execution. The two leaders proceeded, together with General Smith, in a personal reconnoissance of Bragg's position, and a plan of attack was speedily perfected.
Grant's first movement was to deceive Bragg into the belief that he was to be attacked in heavy force on his left. For this purpose Sherman's troops were put in motion at Bridgeport. Ewing's division moved to Shell
1 Grant's dispatch was dated the 24th of October. It had been conveyed by a messenger who floated down the Tennessee River in a boat to Florence, and made his way to Tuscumbia, when Blair sent the message to Sherman, at luka.