Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 13, 1863 (Wednesday): An Army At Large

Major General Grenville Dodge

Maj. Gen. W. T. SHERMAN,
On Road from Winchester to Bridgeport:
    I sent you full reports by messenger yesterday. I have not my troops on railroad, and am holding it from Lynnville to Athens. Will move south as fast as any one relieves me. If I leave any portion of the railroad unguarded it will be entirely destroyed. I have sent trains for provisions. Shall live mostly off of the country. Have all mills running. When you get my letter please say if my disposition of troops meets your order. There appears to be no movement toward repairing railroad by any on except me. I have my men to work all along the line, and will soon have them up. A great deal of works is to be done yet between Nashville and Columbia. Duck River bridge is down. I will soon have telegraph up to here. I have placed my command so as to feed and forage it with as little transportation as possible. Am obliged to get rations before I can move much farther south. On the 8th General Lee, with his entire cavalry force, was at Courtland.

      G. M. DODGE,

BRIDGEPORT, November 13, 1863.
General G. M. DODGE,
Pulaski,-via Columbia:
    Anything you do as to road will be all right. I will telegraph General Grant about the bridge at Columbia. I understand it is contracted for, the timbers to come from the North, but I will advise you at length in a day or so. It will take me two days to collect my forces here. The mountain roads have scattered us. I am this minute arrived at Bridgeport.

     W. T. SHERMAN,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 141.

Sherman and Dodge were in south central Tennessee. Dodge was off the hook, subsisting off the countryside.  The Confederates lacked sufficient force to concentrate against these invaders, and the chief limiting factor to their operations was subsistence.  Dodge was doing what Sherman would do more extensively the next year, subsist off the land unencumbered by formal supply lines. Bridgeport was a central point on the Memphis to Charleston railroad.

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