Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20, 1863 (Tuesday): Thomas Describes Roads In Kentucky

Kentucky and Tennessee (

Murfreesborough, April 20, 1863.
Commanding Department of the Ohio, Lexington, Ky.:
    GENERAL: Having made a study of the routes from Kentucky to Eastern Tennessee, I have thought that I might be able to assist you somewhat, and therefore write you this note.
   The best route is from Lebanon to Columbia, thence to Creelsborough, on the Cumberland, thence to Albany, thence to Livingston, thence to Crossville, thence to Kingston. This road is generally smooth, except the hills in the vicinity of Wolf and Obie's Rivers.
     The next best road is the same as the former as far as Albany, thence to Jamestown, 26 miles over a very rough road, from Jamestown to Montgomery, and from Montgomery to Kingston. On this road a considerable quantity of forage can be procured. The people are generally loyal, and there are more natural obstacles for an enemy to overcome on your right flank than on the route through Livingston. You can also make use of Lebanon, Nicholasville, and Lexington as depots, and transport supplies to the Cumberland at Jamestown and at Waitsborough, first, by a route from Lebanon, leading up the Rolling Fork, good in summer and fall; by Bradfordsville to Liberty, at which place you branch off to either Jamestown or Somerset; second, from Lebanon and Nicholasville, by way of Danville, to Somerset, through Hustonville Middleburgh, or Coffee's Mill and Doughtry's Store, or through Stanford and by still another through Lancaster and Crab Orchard; third from Lexington to Somerset,through Richmond and Crab Orchard average road or through Richmond, Lancaster, and Stanford, a very excellent road. From Somerset you can get into the road from Albany to Kingston, by Waitsborough, Monticello, and Jamestown. There is also another excellent road from Somerset to Montgomery, going up the east side of the South Fork of the Cumberland to Huntsville from Huntsville to Montgomery, and from Montgomery to Kingston or Knoxville. The great advantage of this route is that your right will be entirely protected by the South Fork as far as Huntsville, and the road from the Cumberland to Huntsville will be good at all seasons. Also on this route you can take the left fork of the road at Chitwood's, about 12 miles north of Huntsville which will take you to either Clinton, over a passable road, or to Grantsborough and on to Knoxville.
     I suppose you have studied carefully the advantages and difficulties of the route from Lexington to Knoxville, by way of London, Barboursville, and Cumberland Gap; therefore, it will not be necessary for me to mention it. I will, however, say that the only advantage in the Cumberland Gap route consists in its passage through a barren region, which, if the Gap or Cumberland Ford were strongly held by our forces, would be inaccessible to the rebels. There is another route to Knoxville from London, by way of Williamsburg and Jacksborough, which I should select in preference to the Cumberland Gap route, as it passes over a more practicable country, and is more conveniently situated for obtaining forage.
Several persons living in Lexington and Nicholasville are engaged in the transportation business, and would gladly enter into an arrangement to haul supplies. Among them I can recommend Mr. H. B. Crow, of Nicholasville, both as a business man and a man of the strictest integrity.
     Respectfully, &c.,

    Major-General U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 2, Page 262.

Burnside was sent West after Fredericksburg and given command of the Army of the Ohio.  At this point he is engaged in recruiting to fill it's ranks before moving to the task he had been given, which was a move on Knoxville.  Here, Thomas, one of the constants for the Union in the West gives Burnside a detailed explanation of how to move east an what were the best roads for the purpose.

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