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General James Longstreet, CSA
General James Longstreet
In a continuing effort to chronicle battles the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry took part in, here I present a description of the Seige of Knoxville. After the Gettysburg debacle, the Army of Northern Virginia returned to Southern soil, south of the Rapidan River. Resting and recuperating was the order of the day, but in September of 1863...General Longstreet received orders to take Generals Hood's and McLaw's divisions (11,000 strong), south to the aide of General Braxton Bragg in Georgia.

As part of General Longstreet's I Corps, General McLaw's Division, Army of Northern Virginia...the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry prepared for the return to Georgian soil.


SIEGE OF KNOXVILLE
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On September 9, 1863...General Longstreet placed his I Corps in motion. Moving troops of Generals Hood and McLaws divisions to Petersburg. There the troops were to be placed on rail cars and transported to the area of Chatanooga, Ga. The route would take them through Wilmington, N.C.; Augusta, and finally Atlanta, Ga. A long and somewhat treturous route, as the enemy Federal troops would often raid the East Tennessee Line, destroying tracks, burning bridges and disrupting operations.

The last of the Corps left Petersburg on September 17, 1863 and arrived in the Chickamagua area around September 27th. After some time, General Braxton Bragg decided to send General Longstreet's Corp against the Union troops (12,000 strong) under General Ambrose Burnside, located at Knoxville, Tn.

On November 4, 1863, General Longstreet's I Corps marched to Tyner's Station...again to be embarked on rail cars to be taken to Sweetwater. The number of Confederate troops overwhelmed the small rail station and it took until the 11th of Novemeber to move all the troops. Reconnoissance was needed to scout the position of the enemy, just across the Tennessee River at Loudon, Tn.

The night of 13 November, the river crossing was started at Huff's Ferry. Union picketts were alerted and took the news of the Confederate troop movements to General Burnside. On the morning of the 14th of November, Union troops made a reconnoissance of their own and made contact with General Longstreet's men, just as the remnant of the Corps was making the final crossing.

Troops of Hampton's Legion, supported by Parker's battery, pushed the Union troops back. From this point, it was General Longstreet's wish that he could defeat General Burnsides before the federals were able to pull back to Knoxville. However, after a three day running battle over thirty miles, the 17th of November found the Union troops safely in Knoxville.

General Wade Hampton, CSA
General Wade Hampton
Preparations were made to assult the town, which had been partially fortified by Confederate troops a year before and was a strong defensive position, with few weaknesses. The most likely point of attack was that of Fort Sanders, beginning its history as a Confederate fort known as Fort Loudon.

This fort was located atop a hill and provided a clear shot at the oncoming Confederate troops. All thirty-four Confederate artillery pieces were brought to bear against the enemy position in the fort, as well as to bring enfilading fire on the enemy troops A ferry was used to bring Parker's rifled cannon to athe southern side of the river at a higher elevation, to also bring enfilading fire against the fort.

After much work at positioning both troops and supporting batteries, the order was given to step off the attack on the 25th of November. General Longstreet had ordered the artillery to open on the enemy positions, followed by sharp-shooters assigned to capture the enemy rifle pits which were occupied by Union picketts. The sharp-shooters were to then keep up a quick rate of fire on the parapets and embrasures of Fort Sanders.

General Danville Leadbetter, CSA
General Danville Leadbetter
However, General Leadbetter (Engineer of General Bragg's command) arrived and advised General Longstreet of the strength of the fortifications he was about to assult. General Leadbetter had been stationed at Knoxville and was familiar with strenghts and faults of the fort. General Longstreet postponed the attack and on the 25th of November reconnnoitered the enemy positions, accompanied by General Leadbetter.

The decision was made to begin the assult at Mabry's Hill. General Longstreet had General Wheeler's cavalry reconnoiter this approach and a brief engagement with enemy pickets ensued. This check of the enemy strength proved that an assault here was nearly impossible. It was decided to return to the original plan, to make an assault against Fort Sanders.

Even that was changed, rather than the artillery making every effort to suppress the Union forces while the sharp-shooters made way against their lines, General Longstreet decided to make a "surprise" attack with Infantry against the enemy's strong position. General Leadbetter was still making suggestions that would directly effect the outcome of the battle.

Before midnight, on Saturday the 27th of November, the enemy pickets were driven back and the sharp-shooters moved into the pits only 150 yards in front of the fort. The infantry was brought forward and made ready to begin the assault. Troops from Humphrey's Mississippi brigade, as well as Bryan's and Wofford's Georgia brigades (Wofford's brigade, including the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry who were being commanded by Colonel S. Z. Ruff), all of General McLaws division, were to make the frontal assault. They were to be supported on the left flank by General Anderson's Georgia Brigade, of General Jenkins (Hooker's) division.

Note:General Wofford had returned home to bury a daughter he and his wife lost to diphtheria, and Ruff assumed command of the entire Brigade consisting of 16th, 18th, and 21st Georgia Infantry Regiments, Cobb's Legion, Phillips Legion and the 1st Georgia Sharpshooters; and was entrusted by Longstreet to lead the ill-fated, early dawn assault on Fort Sanders at Knoxville on a cold, misty wintry day (November 29, 1863).

At dawn, three signal guns were fired from different positions. The Confederate troops, who had been lying on their arms through the cold night without fires, sprang to their feet and immediately fell into line for the attack. While a dozen artillery pieces fired into the enemy lines behind the fort, the throng of infantry rushed forward in the dark, to the line of rifle pits.

Colonel S.Z. Ruff
Colonel S. Z. Ruff
They formed and rushed for the fort, immediately finding themselves entangled in telegraph wire that had been strung from stump to stump, tree to tree to slow their progress. Quickly, this obstacle was removed and they continued forward. The ditch surrounding the fort was the next obstacle and it proved to be a place of slight protection from the volley fire being rained down on them from the fort's defenders. Cannister fire too was brought down on the advancing troops and it was near impossible to maintain rank and file rushing in the darkness, through these obstacles and harassed by the enemy fire.

The three brigades reached the ditch, along the north-west bastion. The western face of the ditch was about four and a half feet deep. Its face frozen and slippery, causing it to be difficult to climb. Besides, General Burnside's engineers had cut a way the berme of the ditch and had deepend the ditch to levels up to ten feet to the right and left of the bastion.

Fort Sanders, Knoxville Defenses
Fort Sanders, Knoxville Defenses
The Confederate troops, unable to rise out of the ditch due to its treachorous sides and the direct fire being sent down on them from the parapet above, returned fire as best they could. They moved back and forth through the ditch looking for a way to continue the attack.

Author D.G. Seymour would later write "The rapid advance in almost complete darkness over terrain filled with obstacles and converging furrows brought the attacking force together into a packed mass whose officers could no longer distinguish their own men. Hesitating only momentarily, the men swarmed into the ditch they had been told was no more than four feet deep. They expected to get a toehold on the berme and scale the parapet with one leap. But as they surged into the ditch they discovered to their horror that in places it was more than eleven feet deep, the embankment was slippery and icy, the berme had been cut away, and the parapet had been built up very high with cotton bales."

Fort Sanders, Knoxville Defenses
Fort Sanders, Knoxville Defenses
The brave Mississippi and Georgia troops tried valiantly to scale the walls. Individuals were sometimes successful, but were immediately shot down from within the fort, as soon as they were atop the parapet. Confederate color bearers were able to place their battle-flags on the exterior crest and the troops waited in the ditch. Unable to advance and unwilling to retreat.

Death of Colonel S. Z. Ruff
Death of Colonel S. Z. Ruff
Painted by Kurz & Allison in Chicago 1891
Eye witness accounts show that "Colonel S.Z. Ruff, commanding Wofford's Brigade, seeing that the men could not pass the ditch, tried to get them to climb out and attack the breastworks leading off from the fort 'which we could easily have done if it had been understood by our men. As Colonel Ruff climbed to the western edge of the ditch to make himself heard, he was cut down immediately by a bullet from the fort."

The Union troops made handgrenades of their artillery shells and were able to heave them into the ditch and among the Confederate attackers. Generla Longstreet, seeing the flashes of the grenades mistakenly thought it was friendly fire falling short of its target. He orderded the few southern guns that were firing to cease.

Finally, as the dark of night passed into the light of day, and seeing that their task was impossible...the Confederate troops began to withdraw. As the men of General McLaws division withdrew, General Anderson's troops not wishing to see the attack fail....lunged forward. After losing nearly two hundred of their number in this futile attack, they too withdrew.

The Confederates were not through. They reformed behind the line of rifle pits, still occupied by the sharp-shooters who had wrangled them from the Union pickets the night before. They made ready to thrust again, awaiting the orders of their officers, anxious to go again.

General Jenkins asked for permission to make a fresh assault. It was about this time that General Longstreet received official intelligence of General Bragg's defeat at Chattanooga and was ordered to cut off the attack at Knoxville and return to the aide of General Bragg. As night fell, preparations were made to move under the protection of darkness.

The assault failed with a tremendous loss of life, including 26-year old Colonel S. Z. Ruff whom Longstreet described as a "young officer with great promise and courage". He was also described in the official records as "commanding in appearance, a fine tactician and strict disciplinarian."

Word was received that General Sherman and a large Union force was being readied to intercept General Longstreet's Corp and it was decided to remain and threaten Knoxville. This would draw General Sherman's troops away from the defeated General Bragg and then General Longstreet was to withdraw to Eastern Tennessee. His Confederates remained at Knoxville's front until the night of December 4th, 1863.

A sad countenance of the battle was written later by a member of the Union Cavlary in reserve behind Fort Saunders: "Almost fifty years have passed since the battle of Knoxville, Tenn. I may have forgotten some little events that happened at this time, but I am certain of what I am going to say here. The assault on Ft. Saunders was on Sunday morning, about November 29, 1863.

"My company, B. McLauglin's squadron, Ohio cavalry, was on duty at General Hartsrauft's headquarters, commanding the 23rd Army Corps, Army of the Ohio. We were camped just in the rear of Fort Saunders, everything was excitement the night before the attack, every man in his saddle, regiments in line and battery in position."

"After the battle, which was short but fearful in the loss of life, was over, three or four of us asked permission to visit Fort Saunders which was granted. By this time, General Burnside, commander-in-chief, sent a dispatch with a flag of truce to General Longstreet to come and bury his dead. We took a stroll over the ground which was covered with dead and dying. During this stroll, my attention was attracted to a man dead, his hat had fallen from his head, his coat was unbuttoned and his countenance showed sadness. I looked at the corpse a moment, then caught the corners of his coat and threw it over his body. In doing this his pocketbook slipped from his pocket. I picked it up, af first not knowing just what to do with it, but after reading the papers, which made mention of his sickness and at once answered for his saddened countenance, then, too, I knew he soon would be hauled away to be buried with the unknown, and that he was a man held in great esteem by his superior officers as the order from General McLaws will carry out, I concluded to keep the pocketbook and papers, thinking that perhaps some day I might be able to find some one, a wife, son, daughter or brother or sister, who would receive it as a keep-sake to a dear one's memory."


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LONGSTREET'S ARMY CORPS
Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet

McLAWS' DIVISION

Kershaw's Brigade

2d South Carolina, Col. John D. Kennedy

3d South Carolina, Col. James D. Nance

7th South Carolina, Col. D. Wyatt Aiken

8th South Carolina, Col. John W. Henagan

15th South Carolina, Col. Joseph F. Gist

3d South Carolina Battalion, Lieut. Col. William G. Rice

Humphreys' Brigade

13th Mississippi, Col. Kennon McElroy

17th Mississippi, Col. William D. Holder

18th Mississippi, Col. Thomas N. Griffin

21st Mississippi, Col. William L. Brandon

Wofford's Brigade

16th Georgia, Col. Robert P. Thomas

18th Georgia, Col. S. Z. Ruff

24th Georgia, Col. Robert McMillan

Cobb's Legion, Lieut. Col. Luther J. Glenn

Phillips Legion, Lieut. Col. E.S. Barclay

3d Georgia Battalion Sharpshooters, Lieut. Col. N. L. Hutchins, Jr.

Bryan's Brigade

10th Georgia, Col. John B. Weems

50th Georgia, Col. Peter McGlashan

51st Georgia, Col. Edward Ball

53d Georgia, Col. James P. Simms

HOOD'S DIVISION
Jenkins' Brigade

1st South Carolina, Col. Franklin W. Kilpatrick

2d South Carolina Rifles, Col. Thomas Thomson

5th South Carolina, Col. A. Coward

6th South Carolina, Col. John Bratton

Hampton Legion, Col. Martin W. Gary

Palmetto Sharpshooters, Col. Joseph Walker

Law's Brigade

4th Alabama, Col. Pinckney D. Bowles

15th Alabama, Col. William C. Oates

44th Alabama, Col. William F. Perry

47th Alabama, Col. Michael J. Bulger

48th Alabama, Col. James L. Sheffield

Robertson's Brigade

3d Arkansas, Col. Van H. Manning

1st Texas, Col. A.T. Rainey

4th Texas, Col. J.C.G. Key

5th Texas, Col. R.M. Powell

Anderson's Brigade

7th Georgia, Col. W.W. White

8th Georgia, Col. John R. Towers

9th Georgia, Col. Benjamin Rock

11th Georgia, Col. F.H. Little

59th Georgia, Col. Jack Brown


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General James Longstreet
General James Longstreet

GENERAL LONGSTREETS HEADQUARTERS
Russellville, East Tenn.,
January 1, 1864
GENERAL: About November 1, a camp rumor reached me to the effect that I was to be ordered into East Tennessee, to operate against the enemy's forces at and near Knoxville. Such a move had not occurred to me previously as practicable. I therefore set to work to fix upon some plan by which it might be executed. After two days' reflection I concluded the move might be made with safety by withdrawing our army behind the Chickamauga to some strong position, at the same time withdrawing our forces then at Sweetwater, so as to give out the impression that we were concentrating behind the Chickamauga, but at the same time to make a rapid movement by the most retired route into East Tennessee with a force of 20,000, and to strike the enemy so suddenly and so severely that his force should be crushed before he could know anything of our purposes; then to retire to meet the enemy at Chattanooga, or, better, to operate rapidly against his rear and flank. The reason for retiring behind the Chickamauga with our main force was, that our extended line being so near the enemy would enable him to concentrate and march against any point of it in twenty minutes after leaving his works.

The day after arriving at this conclusion (November 3) I was called to council by the commanding general, with Lieutenant-General Hardee and Major-General Breckinridge. The subject of the movements of our army being called, campaigns were proposed and discussed, and pronounced by those familiar with the country as impracticable, owing to the scarcity of supplies in the country. The campaign in East Tennessee was then discussed, and I proposed the plan that I have already mentioned.

A campaign was settled upon. Two divisions (McLaws' and Hood's), under my command, were spoken of as the force from Chattanooga to execute it. I repeated my apprehensions about our lines thus weakened remaining so near the enemy's works, but failed to make any impression upon the minds of the other officers, and endeavored to explain that the force that I would have would be too weak to operate with that promptness which the occasion seemed to require. At the end of the consultation I was ordered verbally to begin my preparations for the campaign.

After reaching my headquarters I gave orders for the withdrawal of Alexander's battalion of artillery at once, and ordered General McLaws to withdraw his division after night; these commands to march the following day to Tyner's Station, to take the cars for Sweet Water. Leyden's artillery was withdrawn the next day, and Hood's division the following night. Leyden's artillery and Hood's division were ordered to meet the cars at the tunnel through Missionary Ridge. I applied at general headquarters for maps and information about the country that I was to operate in; also for a quartermaster and commissary of subsistence who knew the resources of the country, and an engineer officer who had been serving on Major-General Buckner's staff at Knoxville. None of the staff officers asked for were sent me, nor were any of the maps, except one of the country between the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers. Major-General Buckner was kind enough to give me some inaccurate maps of the country along the Holston - all that he had. The best one a map of roads and rivers only.

There was much delay in getting the troops up to Sweet Water by rail. As I had no control over this transportation I could apply no remedy further than to make details from my command to assist wherever aid was needed. Letters from the commanding general's headquarters seemed to urge upon me the importance of prompt movements in a spirit which appeared to intimate that the delays which had occurred were due to some neglect of mine, or some want of appreciation on my part, of the importance of prompt and energetic action. As I had urged from the moment the campaign was proposed the importance of such action, I thought that I ought not to have been urged on in such a tone, particularly as all of the delays that had occurred were upon the railroad over which I had no control. Hence my letter of the 11th, in answer to Lieutenant Ellis' of the 9th. I mention this not as an excuse for the letter, but in palliation of it.

Major-General Stevenson, who had been in command of our forces at Sweet Water, told me with entire confidence in his information that the enemy's forces were 23,000. This information he had also sent to General Bragg. This I now believe to be a correct statement of the enemy's force under General Burnside upon his entrance into East Tennessee. He also informed me that he had not been advised of my move, and so far from being ordered to have rations or supplies for us, he was ordered to send everything of the kind to the army of Chattanooga.

As my orders were to drive the enemy out of East Tennessee, or, if possible, capture him, I determined that the only possible chance of succeeding in either or both was to move and act as though I had a sufficient force to do either. I endeavored, therefore, to do as I should have done had the 20,000 men that I asked for been given me. Had the means been at hand for making the proper moves I should have marched for the rear of Knoxville via Morganton and Maryville, and gained possession of the heights there by forced marches. My transportation was so limited, however, that I could not spare a wagon to haul the pontoons for our bridge. The only move that I could make under the circumstances was by crossing the river where the cars delivered the bridge - Loudon.

On the night of November 13, Major-General Wheeler was detached with three of his brigades of cavalry, with orders to surprise a cavalry force of the enemy at Maryville (reported to be a brigade). capture it, and move on to the rear of Knoxville and endeavor to get possession of some of the heights on the south side, and to hold them until our arrival, or failing in this, to threaten the enemy at Knoxville, so as to prevent his concentrating his forces against us before we reached Knoxville. He surprised the force at Maryville (only about 400 strong), captured a part, and dispersed the balance of it. He moved on to Knoxville and failed to get possession of any of the heights which commanded the town, but created the diversion in my favor.

His other brigade, under Colonel Hart, was sent down to Kingston as soon as we crossed the river, with orders to break up any force that the enemy might have there, and to leave a regiment there on picket. The balance of the brigade was ordered to return to our column and advance to Campbell's station, in front of General McLaws' division. After making the diversion at Knoxville, General Wheeler was ordered to retire and rejoin us by crossing the Holston on our right flank.

Colonel Alexander, chief of artillery, and Major Clarke, chief engineer, were sent to select a point where we could make a crossing in front of the enemy, that being the only place to which we could transport, the bridge. Fortunately a very good point was found near Loudon at Huff's Ferry the day before the troops got up. Most of the troops being up on the 10th, the order to advance on the 13th at daylight was issued. The troops then in rear came up during the night of the 12th, and these moved forward to join us as soon as they could cook their rations. The head of the column was halted near Loudon beyond the enemy's view during the day, and the cars with the pontoons were stopped out of sight till after night. A select detail was made to throw across the river in advance, and details were made to roll the cars up to the nearest point of the river as soon as dark came on. At dark the cars were pushed up and the boats were taken down to the river as quietly as possible, with the hope that we might surprise and capture the enemy's pickets on the opposite bank. The information that we got from our cavalry pickets not being accurate, we failed in the effort. The picket escaped and gave the alarm, but the enemy did not attempt to molest us.

The night of the 13th and 14th was occupied in laying the bridge and in crossing.

In the afternoon of the 14th a considerable infantry force advanced and skirmished with us for some time, driving in our line of sharpshooters and deploying along our front as if to give battle.

Upon moving out on the morning of the 15th the enemy was found to be retiring. The sharpshooters of Hood's division, under Lieutenant-Colonel Logan, after a brisk skirmish drove in the enemy's rear in some confusion, he taking up his line of retreat along the road which follows the railroad. Not having a map of the topography of the country, I was of necessity dependent upon such information as I could get from the guides and from my own observation. I found that the enemy in retiring to his line of retreat had crossed a considerable ridge, which runs parallel with the railroad, and is impassable to vehicles except at certain gaps. Putting a small force at the pass over which the enemy retired, I advanced along the west side of the ridge on a road framing parallel with the ridge and to the road by which the enemy must retire.

Arriving opposite Lenoir's Station I found a picket guard of the enemy at a gap in the ridge. After a little examination I found the enemy at Lenoir's in considerable force and taken completely by surprise, thinking that our force immediately in his rear was the only force that was advancing. With confident hope of reaping the full benefit of this surprise I moved down upon him. The ground was so muddy and the hills so high (almost mountains) that we were not able to get one division up and in position till after night. Some of the troops were sent under guides after night to get possession of the roads in the enemy's rear, and about midnight General Jenkins advanced his brigade and got possession of the only ground that the enemy could expect to occupy to give battle.

When daylight came it was found that the guides had failed to put the troops upon the right road, and that the enemy had during the night abandoned part of his wagon train and made a hurried retreat. Hood's division was put in pursuit, and McLaws' division, being on the road to Campbell's Station, was ordered to move forward as rapidly as possible and endeavor to intercept the enemy (in full retreat) at Campbell's Station. Jenkins' sharpshooters pursued rapidly, skirmishing nearly all of the time and making every effort to force the enemy to make a stand, but did not succeed in doing so until after he had passed Campbell's Station. He escaped General McLaws also and took a strong position east of Campbell's Station. As soon as General McLaws got up he was ordered to deploy three of his brigades in front of the enemy, and to put his other brigade upon a ridge on our left, so as to threaten the enemy's right.

At the same time Colonel Alexander put his artillery in position, and General Jenkins was ordered with Hood's division around the enemy's left, and upon arriving opposite the enemy's position to make an attack upon that flank, while General McLaws was advancing against the enemy's front to follow Jenkins' attack. The flank movement and fire of our batteries caused the enemy to retreat in some haste. McLaws' division advanced promptly and brought the enemy to a stand about a mile farther toward his rear in a more commanding position. If General Jenkins could have made his attack during this movement, or if he could have made it after the enemy had taken his second position, we must have destroyed this force, recovered East Tennessee, and in all probability captured the greater portion of the enemy's forces. He attributes his failure to do so to some mismanagement of General Law. Before I could get a staff officer to him to ascertain the occasion of the delay night came on and our efforts ceased. The enemy drew off as soon as it was dark and retired to Knoxville.

We advanced again at daylight, but only came up with the enemy's rear guard of cavalry. There was more or less skirmishing with this force until our line of skirmishers and our advanced battery came under the fire from the enemy's fort at the northwest angle of his lines at Knoxville. His line of skirmishers was about 1,000 yards in front of his works. General McLaws' skirmishers engaging them. Hart's brigade of cavalry was ordered over to the Clinton road to drive in the skirmishers of the enemy, and as soon as Hood's division came up it was ordered over to that road, and Hart's cavalry was sent on to the Tazewell road, so as to prevent as far as possible the escape of the enemy. I rode over to the Clinton road to make an examination of the country and select some position for Hood's division before night.

The next day, on riding to General McLaws' front, I found that the enemy's pickets occupied the same ground that they held the day before, and that his line had been strengthened during the night by making a defense of rails. Colonel Alexander was ordered to use his guns against this defense, and succeeded once or twice in driving the enemy off from some points of it: but our skirmishers did not move up to occupy it, and the enemy returned to it. I finally ordered General McLaws to order his troops up to take the position. Part of the troops moved up handsomely and got partial possession: others faltered and sought shelter under a rise of the ground, when Captain Winthrop, of Colonel Alexander's staff, appreciating the danger of delay at such a moment, mounted his horse and dashing up to the front of our line led the troops over the work. He had the misfortune to receive a severe wound in this affair. Our force was not strong enough to risk an assault from so great a distance from the enemy's works. He had as many as we in a strong position fortified. We went to work, therefore, to make our way forward by gradual and less hazardous measures, at the same time making examinations of the enemy's entire positions.

General Wheeler retired from Knoxville and crossed the Holston near Louisville and joined us on the 18th. His three brigades were stationed on the Tazewell road, and Hart's brigade was sent back to Kingston, where a brigade of the enemy's cavalry was reported to be. Our transportation being limited we had brought no tools for intrenching or other work, except those that our small pioneer parties had. We were so fortunate, however, as to capture a large number of picks and spades in the abandoned wagons of the enemy at Lenoir's Station; also a pontoon bridge in the river near that place. We had the tools brought up by our cavalry upon their horses, and set to work to strengthen our position and make advances by throwing our picket lines forward at night. The enemy's line along General Jenkins' front seemed very weak and his entire line yet long.

Upon an examination of his line on the 20th, on the Clinton road, General Jenkins thought that he might push in his skirmishers and find the means of breaking the enemy's line. He was ordered to advance his skirmishers a little before night, and to have his command ready, and if the opportunity proved favorable to throw his entire force upon the enemy and break his line. A little after dark he reported the matter impracticable. Our line was then about 700 yards from the enemy's. After careful examination I became convinced that the true key to the enemy's position was by the heights on the south side of the Holston, and crossed a small force. (Law's and Robertson's brigades) in flat-boats and obtained possession of one of the heights near and opposite the lower end of the enemy's line. This position gave us command of the fort and line in front of General McLaws, but the range from the hill to the fort was too great for our limited supply of ammunition. With a view to operations on a more extensive scale on the south side, the pontoon bridge that we had captured was ordered up. Our first effort was to get it up by the river, but that was reported impracticable, as there were rapids that the boats could not be hauled over. We were, therefore, obliged to send wagons to haul the bridge.

On the 22d, General McLaws seemed to think his line near enough for an assault, and he was ordered to make it at dark on that night. General Jenkins was ordered to be prepared to co-operate. After night General McLaws reported against the assault, saying that his officers would prefer to attack by daylight.

On the 23d instant [?], Major-General Wheeler, in conformity with instructions, moved upon Kingston with three brigades of cavalry.

A portion of the next day was passed in skirmishing with the enemy at that place, General Wheeler finally desisting and withdrawing a short distance on account of the strong position occupied by the enemy, and the superior numbers which he reports him to have had. Colonel Hart, who was left at Kingston with a brigade of cavalry, reported that the enemy's force in front of General Wheeler there consisted of but three regiments of cavalry and a battery of artillery.

On the 24th, General Wheeler received orders from General Bragg to rejoin him in person, and in accordance with those orders the command of the cavalry was turned over to Major-General Martin. The official report of General Wheeler will explain fully his operations before Kingston. The cavalry, with the exception of one brigade, returned from Kingston on the 26th, and resumed its operations about Knoxville.

On the 23d, I received a telegram from the commanding general informing me that the enemy had moved out and attacked him at Chattanooga. Later on the same day I received another dispatch announcing that the enemy was still in front of him, but the firing had ceased. On the night of the same day his letter of the 22d was received.

On the 25th, I received a telegram from Brig. Gen. B. R. Johnson at Loudon, informing me that the enemy's cavalry was advancing upon Charleston. As I had received nothing from the commanding general on the 24th, I concluded that the enemy had moved out on the 23d for the purpose of threatening him, while he passed his cavalry out for the purpose of making a raid on Charleston and thus cut off the re-enforcements then on their way to me.

On the night of the 25th, General Leadbetter joined me. We made a hasty reconnaissance of the enemy's entire position on the 26th. From the heights on the south side he pronounced the enemy's fort in front of General McLaws assailable. After riding around the enemy's lines, however, he expressed his preference for an attack against Mabry's Hill, at the northeast of the position.

On the 27th, a more careful examination of Mabry's Hill was made by Generals Leadbetter, Jenkins, Colonel Alexander, and myself. The opinion of all on this day was that the ground over which the troops would have to pass was too much exposed and the distance to be overcome under fire was too great. General Leadbetter was urgent that something should be done quickly, but admitted that the way to the enemy's position was by the heights on the south side.

On the 27th, Colonel Giltner's brigade of cavalry, of Major-General Ransom's command, arrived near Knoxville for co-operation with me, and on the 28th Brig. Gen. W. E. Jones reported with his brigade of cavalry of the same command.

On the 26th and 27th, we had various rumors of a battle having been fought at Chattanooga, the most authentic being from telegraph operators. There seemed to be so many reports leading to the same conclusion that I determined that I must attack, and, if possible, get possession of Knoxville.

The attack upon the fort was ordered for the 28th, but in order to, get our troops nearer the works the assault was postponed until daylight of the 29th. The line of sharpshooters along our entire front was ordered to be advanced at dark to within good rifle-range of the enemy's lines, and to sink rifle-pits during the night in its advanced position, so that the sharpshooters along our whole line might engage the enemy upon an equal footing, while our columns made the assault upon the fort.

Our advance at night was very successful, capturing 60 or 70 prisoners without any loss. The assault was ordered to be made by three of General McLaws' brigades, his fourth being held in readiness for further operations. General Jenkins was ordered to advance a brigade a little later than the assaulting columns and to pass the enemy's lines east of the fort, and to continue the attack along the enemy's rear and flank. Two brigades of Major-General Buckner's division, under Brig. Gen. B. R. Johnson, having arrived the day before, were ordered to move in rear of General McLaws, and at a convenient distance, to be thrown in as circumstances might require.

On the night of the 28th, General McLaws' letter of that date was received. General McLaws' letter was shown to General Leadbetter, and my answer was read to him. General Leadbetter then suggested the postscript which I added to the answer. The assault was made at the appointed time by Generals Wofford's, Humphreys', and Bryan's brigades. The troops were not formed as well to the front as they should have been. Their lines should have been formed close up on our line of rifle-pits, which would have given them but about 200 yards to advance under fire. Instead of this the lines were formed several hundred yards in rear of the pits.

My orders were that the advance should be made quietly until they entered the-works, which was to be announced by a shout. The troops moved up in gallant style and formed handsomely at the outside of the ditch. As I approached the troops seemed to be in good order at the edge of the ditch, and some of the colors appeared to be on the works. When within about 500 yards of the fort I saw some of the men straggling back, and heard that the troops could not pass the ditch for want of ladders or other means. Almost at the same moment I saw that the men were beginning to retire in considerable numbers, and very soon the column broke up entirely and fell back in confusion. I ordered Buckner's brigade halted and retired, and sent the order for Anderson's brigade, of Hood's division, to be halted and retired, but the troops of the latter brigade had become excited and rushed up to the same point from which the others had been repulsed, and were soon driven back. Officers were set to work to rally the men, and good order was soon restored.

About half an hour after the repulse Major Branch, of Major-General Ransom's staff, arrived with a telegram from the President through General Ransom, informing me that General Bragg had retired before superior numbers, and directing that I should proceed to co-operate with him. Orders were issued at once for our trains to move back to Loudon in order that we might follow as soon as possible to rejoin General Bragg.

On the afternoon of the same day I received a note from General Wheeler, by General Bragg's authority, directing that I should rejoin him at Ringgold, if practicable. Reports began to come in at the same time that the enemy were in force at Cleveland. As the note of General Wheeler seemed to indicate that it was doubtful whether I could effect a junction with General Bragg, I ordered my trains to return to me at Knoxville. It appeared to me that the best thing for us was to hold the enemy at Knoxville until the army at Chattanooga should be obliged to make heavy detachments to succor the garrison at Knoxville, and that in that way we would be able to relieve General Bragg's army, and give him time to rally and to receive re-enforcements. The principal officers of the command were called to advise, and the general opinion expressed was, that it would be imprudent to attempt to rejoin General Bragg with the lights then before us. About this time two messengers came from General Bragg to state that he had retired to Dalton, and that I must depend on “my own resources.” Upon this I determined to remain at Knoxville until seriously threatened by a succoring army from Chattanooga, and wrote to General Ransom, then at Rogersville, to move down and join me and aid me in reducing the enemy, or to aid me in the event that a small succoring force should attempt to relieve Knoxville.

On December 1, Colonel Giltner, commanding one of General Ransom's brigades of cavalry, reported to me that he had received orders from General Ransom that he (Colonel Giltner), with his brigade, should rejoin General Ransom.

On the same day a courier from General Grant was captured, bearing an autograph letter to General Burnside with the information that three columns were advancing to his relief--one by the south side, under General Sherman: one by Decherd, under General Elliott, and one by Cumberland Gap, under General Foster. The enemy were then reported as pressing our forces below Loudon with superior numbers. General Vaughn, in command at Loudon, had been ordered to move all stores that he could haul to the north side of the river, and to be prepared, in case the enemy marched against him with superior forces, to destroy such property as he could not remove, and to cross the river with his troops and join me at Knoxville. General Leadbetter, who was at Loudon before this, had been requested by me to order General Vaughn to rejoin General Bragg's army by passing through the mountains, if he thought it practicable.

Major-General Wheeler wrote about the same time for the cavalry of General Bragg's army serving with me to be returned to that army. As I was cut off from all communication and entirely dependent upon the surrounding country for supplies, and threatened from all sides, I did not think it prudent to dispense with the cavalry and declined to send it. As General Vaughn was not sent to General Bragg, as suggested, and was seriously threatened by the enemy in his rear (the enemy's force at Kingston also being reported as increasing), he was ordered to destroy everything that he could not remove that would be of value to the enemy, and to proceed to join me at Knoxville. As our position at Knoxville was somewhat complicated, I determined to abandon the siege and to draw off in the direction of Virginia, with an idea that we might find an opportunity to strike that column of the enemy's forces reported to be advancing by Cumberland Gap.

The orders to move, in accordance with this view, were issued on December 2.

Our trains were put in motion on the 3d to cross the Holston at Strawberry Plains, escorted by Generals Law's and Robertson's brigades, of Hood's division, and one of Alexander's batteries.

On the night of the 4th, the troops were withdrawn from the west side of Knoxville and marched around to the east side, when they took up a line of march along the north bank of the Holston River. General Martin, with his own and General Ransom's cavalry, was left at Knoxville to cover the movement. As our march was not interrupted by the enemy, we were enabled to reach Blain's CrossRoads on the afternoon of the 5th, where we met General Ransom with the infantry and artillery of his command.

On the 6th, we marched to Rutledge, where we remained until the 8th. As there was no indication of a force moving from Cumberland Gap, I did not feel that I should keep General Bragg's cavalry any longer: and as the enemy's cavalry had moved out, and seemed disposed to annoy us - I could not remain so near him and depend upon our small cavalry force to protect our foraging trains - I concluded to retire to Rogersville and to order General Bragg's cavalry back to Georgia.

We accordingly marched for Rogersville on the 8th, ordering all of our cavalry except Giltner's brigade across the Holston, near Bean's Station. Martin's cavalry, belonging to General Bragg's army, was ordered to return to that army through the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia, and Jones' brigade, of General Ransom's command, to cover the movements of our troops and trains on the south side of the Holston.

The column reached Rogersville on the 9th. The accounts that we got of the resources of the country were favorable, and we halted and put our trains out getting provisions, &c. As there were not enough mills to grind more than flour to feed the command from day to day, we were obliged to reduce the bread ration one-half in order to accumulate a few days' rations.

On the 10th. I received a telegram from the President which seemed to give me discretionary power with regard to the troops and their movement. The order for General Martin's cavalry to return to General Bragg was countermanded at once, and it was held in position between our main force and the enemy.

On the 12th, I received information that I thought reliable that a part of the enemy's re-enforcements from Chattanooga had returned to that place, and that the enemy had a force consisting of three brigades of cavalry and one of infantry at Bean's Station, his main force being between Rutledge and Blain's Cross-Roads.

Orders were issued for the troops to be in readiness to march on the 14th, with the hope of being able to surprise and capture the enemy's force at Bean's Station, our main force to move directly down from Rogersville to Bean's Station. General Martin, with four brigades of cavalry, was to move down on the south side and cross the Holston opposite Bean's Station, or below, and General W. E. Jones, with two brigades of cavalry, was to pass down on the north side of Clinch Mountain and prevent the enemy's escape by Bean's Station Gap.

On the 13th and that night we had heavy rains, which retarded our march and made a slight rise in the Holston. The infantry column, however, reached Bean's Station in good time and surprised the enemy completely. General W. E. Jones also got his position in good time and captured a number of the enemy's wagons. His information with regard to our movements, however, was not correct, and he retired from the gap after securing his captured wagons. General Martin was not heard at his crossing till about night. He then only crossed a part of his command, and afterward withdrew it. As our column was composed of infantry and artillery only, we could only drive the enemy back. Brig. Gen. B. R. Johnson, commanding Buckner's division, advanced directly against the enemy and drove him steadily to the buildings at Bean's Station, where he met with a strong resistance.

General Kershaw, at the head of General McLaws' division, was ordered in upon the right of Johnson to push forward and cut off the force that was occupying the gap, and then to pass down upon the left flank of the force in the valley. General Kershaw executed his orders literally and most promptly: but we could not catch the enemy's cavalry. The night was dark and General Kershaw halted after no had executed his orders. Our cavalry was not up, and the enemy escaped to a strong position 3 miles from us. During the night he strengthened his position by rail defenses and some re-enforcements. He was found in this position in the morning.

Upon ordering Major-General McLaws to send a part of his command up in the gap on the morning of the 15th to capture the force that had been cut off there, he informed me that his troops had had no bread rations for two days. I directed him to send a brigade up, and to hurry his rations up and have them issued and cooked at once.

General Jenkins, commanding Hood's division, was ordered to pursue at daylight, which he did, and found the enemy in the position above mentioned, 3 miles below Bean's Station. Upon a casual examination the force appeared to be the cavalry that we had engaged the day before. I directed General Jenkins to examine the force and position, and to attack if he found an opportunity. I rode back to secure the force in the gap, reported by the citizens at the station to be stronger than I had supposed. Humphreys' brigade had been ordered into the gap, and upon reaching it he found that the enemy had abandoned everything except his arms, and escaped during the night bypassing along the top of the mountain.

Brigadier-General Law, with his own and Brigadier-General Robertson's brigade, had been on detached service guarding our trains, and was some 8 miles behind his division on the night of the 14th. He had been ordered to join it on the 13th, but did not succeed in doing so.

On the night of the 14th, he was ordered to march early on the following day and join the division as soon as he possibly could. He reported to General Jenkins, the division commander, between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. If he started at the hour that he should have done (6 o'clock) he must have been about 11 hours marching as many miles. General Jenkins reports that the enemy re-enforced with infantry before General Law joined him.

A little before sunset General Jenkins reported that he thought the enemy was preparing to advance against him. I ordered General McLaws to send him one of his brigades to re-enforce him.

General McLaws sent me in reply that his men had not yet had any bread rations. He, however, sent the brigade ordered up. The enemy's move, which created the impression of his advance, was probably caused by the appearance of General Martin's cavalry on his flank.

A little after night the enemy retreated and our skirmishers occupied their defenses. The pursuit was ordered by daylight by Hood's division of infantry and Martin's cavalry. As I rode to the front General Law preferred a complaint of hardships, &c. General McLaws was not yet fed, and there seemed so strong a desire for rest rather than to destroy the enemy, that I was obliged to abandon the pursuit, although the enemy were greatly demoralized and in some confusion. This was the second time during the campaign when the enemy was completely in our power, and we allowed him to escape us. General Martin was ordered to pursue with his cavalry.

General Armstrong, who followed immediately behind the enemy, reported his retreat so rapid that he could not bring him to a stand until he reached Blain's Cross-Roads. There he made a successful stand against our cavalry. After exhausting the supply of forage between Blain's Cross-Roads and Rogersville, the command was moved to its present position on the south side of the Holston and ordered to make shelters for the winter.

As we did not succeed in bringing the enemy to battle, there was but little opportunity for personal distinction on the part of subordinate officers. I should mention, however, Brig. Gen. B. R. Johnson for his fine march from Cloud's Creek to Bean's Station (about 16 miles over very bad roads), and for his handsome attack upon the enemy's cavalry, driving him steadily back. Brigadier-General Gracie (who was severely wounded) and Brigadier-General Kershaw for their very creditable parts in the same affair. Brigadier-General Jenkins for his vigorous pursuit from Lenoir's Station. Brigadier-Generals Anderson, Humphreys, and Bryan for their gallant assault on the enemy's fort at Knoxville on November 29.

Colonel Ruff, of the Eighteenth Georgia Regiment, had command of Wofford's brigade in the same assault. He was killed at the ditch. He was a very promising officer, and is a great loss to the service and his country.

In this assault Colonel McElroy, Thirteenth Mississippi Volunteers, and Colonel Thomas, Sixteenth Georgia Volunteers, also full. Their bodies were afterward found in the ditch of the fort foremost in the attack.

Lieutenant-Colonel Fiser, Seventeenth Mississippi, lost an arm after having mounted the parapet.

Lieutenant Cumming, adjutant of the Sixteenth Georgia Volunteers, with great gallantry rushed up to the fort with 10 or 12 of his men, and made his way through an embrasure to the interior, where the party was finally captured.

The conduct of Captain Foster, of Jenkins' brigade, who had charge of the select party thrown across the Tennessee on the night of November 13, was highly creditable, both as to the coolness of the officer and the skill with which his party was handled.

Lieutenant-Colonel Logan had at various times through the campaign control of the line of skirmishers of Hood's division, and always managed it with courage and skill.

The conduct of Captain Winthrop has already been noticed. The gallantry of this officer on the occasion referred to was most conspicuous, and had the happiest effect in leading the troops over the enemy's cover, at which they had faltered.

Colonel Alexander, chief of artillery, is entitled to great credit for his untiring efforts and zeal throughout the campaign and during the siege.

I desire to express my obligations to the officers of my staff - Lieutenant-Colonel Sorrel, Major Latrobe, Major Fairfax. Major Walton, Lieutenant Goree, Lieutenant Dunn, Lieutenant-Colonel Manning, and Captain Manning (signal officer) - for their usual assistance and attention.

My aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Dunn, was severely wounded in the leg during the siege of Knoxville.

In the absence of Lieutenant-Colonel Manning, chief of ordnance, during the greater portion of the campaign, the affairs of his department were well conducted by his assistant, Lieutenant Dawson.

Major Moses, chief commissary; Major Taylor, chief quartermaster; Captain Potts, assistant quartermaster, and Surgeons Cullen and Barksdale displayed their usual intelligence and energy in the administration of their respective departments.

I refer to the reports of the chief commissary of subsistence and chief quartermaster for information in regard to the condition, of their departments upon our arrival at Sweet Water; also to the accompanying copies of letters in explanation of our affairs at the beginning and during the progress of the campaign.

As the case of Brigadier-General Robertson has more or less important bearing upon the campaign, it should be mentioned in this report. As his division commander had made several complaints of his incompetency, it was suggested to me by higher authority that I should ask for a board of officers to examine and report upon his case. It was suggested at the same time that when he was relieved to attend the board another brigadier could be sent to the brigade. The board of officers was asked for by me and ordered by the commanding general; but the brigadier was left in command of the brigade. He seemed to exercise an injurious influence over the troops, and I was induced again to ask that he be relieved. An order was issued relieving the officer at my request. When the troops were started upon the campaign I found to my surprise that Brigadier-General Robertson had been ordered back to the command of his brigade. The letters and orders in the case are a part of this report. Brigadier-General Robertson is now in arrest under charges of a serious character.

Respectfully submitted.

JAMES LONGSTREET,

Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General.