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the ditch. Our own men in the fort had been carefully drilled for their part. Each man had his proper post, ate and slept at it, so as to be ready at the instant of alarm. At night, one man in four was always awake. On the reception of an alarm from the outer picket, every man on watch immediately awakened his three comrades, who silently and at once took their assigned positions at the parapet.* The result justified these extraordinary precautions, and was an honorable testimony to the fidelity of the officer in command.

The enemy's forces in this action consisted of "three brigades of McLaw's division; that of General Wolford, the 16th, 18th and 24th Georgia regiments and Cobb's and Phillips's Georgia Legions; that of General Humphrey, the 13th, 17th, 21st, 22d and 23d Mississippi regiments; and a brigade composed of Generals Anderson's and Bryant's brigades, embracing, among others, the Palmetto State Guard, the 15th South Carolina regiment, and the 51st, 53d and 59th Georgia regiments." Our own troops were reënforced by five companies of the 29th Massachusetts, two 'companies of the 20th Michigan regiments, and a brigade of General Hascall's division of the twenty-third corps.

*Lieutenant Benjamin's Report.

† Pollard's History, "Third Year of the War,” pp. 161, 162.




HE attack on Fort Sanders was the last important event of the siege of Knoxville. General Grant, on the 28th, ordered General Sherman to march, with a force of twenty-five thousand men, to proceed with all possible despatch to the relief of General Burnside. General Sherman marched upon the south side of the Tennessee river, to take General Longstreet in the rear. General Thomas, on the 26th, directed General Elliot, with his cavalry division, to proceed from Alexandria to Knoxville to aid in the relief of that place. These welcome reënforcements were within two or three marches of Knoxville on the 4th of December. On the morning of the 5th, our pickets reported that the enemy had retired, and that the siege of Knoxville was raised. On the same day, General Sherman, with his own corps and that of General Granger and a part of General Howard's, arrived at Marysville and despatched an aide-de-camp with the following hearty message: "I am here, and can bring twenty-five thousand men into Knoxville to-morrow; but Longstreet having retreated, I feel disposed to stop, for a stern chase is a long one. But I will do all that is possible. Without you specify that you want troops, I will let mine rest to-morrow and ride in to see you. Send my aide, Captain Audenried, out with your letters to-night. We are all hearty but tired. Accept my congratulations at your successful defence and your patient endurance."

General Sherman arrived at Knoxville on the 6th, and had a personal conference with General Burnside in regard to the situation. General Burnside was of the opinion that General


Granger's command was sufficient for all necessary operations. On the 7th, General Burnside wrote to General Sherman, acknowledging in the most grateful terms, the great services of his brother officer in relieving the besieged forces at Knoxville. "I desire," he said, "to express to you and your command my most hearty thanks and gratitude for your promptness in coming to our relief during the siege of Knoxville, and I am satisfied that your approach served to raise the siege. The emergency having passed, I do not deem, for the present, any other portion of your command than the corps of General Granger necessary for operations in this section; and, inasmuch as General Grant has weakened the forces immediately with him in order to relieve us, thereby rendering portions of General Thomas's less secure, I think it advisable that all the troops now here, except those commanded by General Granger, should return at once to within supporting distance of the forces operating against General Bragg's army. In behalf of my command, I again desire to thank you and your command for the kindness you have done us."

General Longstreet slowly retreated up the north bank of the Holston like a lion at bay. General Sherman was too far in the rear. General Burnside had no men or animals available for rapid pursuit, with the exception of a few cavalry for observation. A portion of the troops, however, marched out as far as Rutledge, but the enemy was in too strong force to warrant an attack. The only force which could in an effective manner impede the retreating foe, was a small body of troops from the neighborhood of Tazewell and Cumberland Gap, under General Foster. This force, outnumbered as it doubtless was by two or three to one, could do little more than threaten the enemy's line of retreat. Still our troops were full of daring, and marched up boldly against the retiring foe. They attacked him at Blain's Cross Roads, at Bean's Station, and in the passes of the Clinch Mountains, and succeeded in inflicting upon him some injury. General Longstreet, however, did not leave East Tennessee entirely until the following spring, when he rejoined

General Lee in season to take part in the memorable campaign of 1864.

General Willcox, to whom had been entrusted the charge of the operations in the upper valley and its neighborhood during the siege, had done excellent service in holding Cumberland Gap and in preventing a junction between General Longstreet and the enemy's forces advancing from Virginia. Previous to the interruption of communication with Knoxville, orders had been transmitted to General Willcox that, in the event of such a contingency, he was to gather up his garrisons and trains and withdraw to Cumberland Gap. His command at that time consisted of the Indiana regiments and the batteries already mentioned, with a skeleton regiment of recruits from North Carolina, and two brigades of cavalry under Colonels Graham and Garrard. With these, General Willcox was holding the passes of the Bull Mountains, and scouting towards Greeneville and Newport. At Morristown, he had the 32d Kentucky infantry, the 11th Michigan battery and a battalion of mounted Tennesseeans. At Mossy creek was a battalion of Tennessee recruits under Colonel Patten. He had an immense wagon train to carry in safety with these troops to Cumberland Gap, a distance of fifty-two miles. He conducted the movement with great skill. On the morning of the 18th, he sent out his cavalry to demonstrate against the enemy at Kingsport, and under cover of this feigned movement, quietly withdrew his infantry and trains. The roads were crowded with refugees and their property, and the march was slow. During the night of the 18th, he collected all his troops and trains without accident of any kind at Bean's Station. On the afternoon of the 19th, he put his command on the march, with his cavalry well out in front, on his flanks and in his rear, reached Tazewell safely on that night, and Cumberland Gap in the evening of the 20th. One of his cavalry parties, scouting towards Jonesville, surprised and broke up the camp of the 64th Virginia regiment, scattered the troops and drove them two or three miles, cap

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turing and destroying a large portion of their arms and camp equipage.

General Willcox remained at Cumberland Gap during the remainder of the month, employing his men in scouting, gathering subsistence and forage, and obtaining what information was accessible. At one time he communicated with Knoxville by means of a courier, who bravely and cunningly made his way through the enemy's lines. Major Behr, with a battalion of Illinois cavalry, made a dash upon the enemy at Jonesville and drove him across the Powell river with considerable loss. General Willcox also organized an expedition against Abingdon and the salt works in that neighborhood, but owing to various circumstances, the party did not get off. On the 30th, General John G. Foster arrived at the Gap, and on the 1st of December, the entire command, with the exception of a small garrison left at Cumberland Gap to hold the post, started towards Knoxville to coöperate with the other columns moving up from Chattanooga. On the next day, Colonel Graham's cavalry, with two regiments of infantry and Captain Patterson's 21st Ohio battery, had a smart engagement with the enemy's cavalry under General Martin, near Walker's ford, and succeeded in punishing them quite severely. Our loss was about fifty in killed and wounded. The enemy's loss was considerably greater, and our cavalry captured one hundred and fifty prisoners.


With the successful termination of the siege of Knoxville closed the active services of General Burnside in East TennesBefore General Longstreet's withdrawal, the command of the Department of Ohio was transferred by the Secretary of War to General Foster. But General Foster did not succeed in reaching Knoxville until nearly the middle of December. On the 11th of that month, General Burnside formally committed the Department into the hands of his successor. The general orders, both of General Burnside and of General Foster, are expressive of such sincere and appreciative friendship as to deserve a place in these annals. General Burnside's order was

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