Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 18, 1863 (Friday): Longstreet Closes In On Knoxville

Bullet in Oak Log From Battle of Campbell's Station (

HEADQUARTERS, Four Miles from Knoxville, November 18, 1863.
General B. BRAGG:
    Your note of the 14th is received. I am very much occupied at present with our affairs with the enemy. I will furnish the copy you desire as soon as I have a little time, provided the paper has not been misplaced.
    May I ask that you will send me 1 or 2 telegraph operators. We have driven the enemy into his fortifications around Knoxville and he now confines himself closely to the town, the only road from is that is not guarded being the road across the river by his pontoon bridge.
     We have captured 100 wagons, many of them injured by cutting the spokes and some partially burned; 400 or 500 prisoners have been taken; four or five stand of colors, and a considerable amount of ammunition and other property and baggage. We got greatly the advantage of the enemy in our moves after crossing the river, but were an hour or two too late on one day in reaching him, and he retreated hastily during the night. The next day we failed to get to our points by about fifteen minutes, so that he got his position behind the point where I had proposed to intercept him-Campbell's Station. Then, after getting his position, we were unable to make our plan and arrangements for attack, but he escaped and got into another position a little before night. It was then too late to make other plans and arrangements, night coming on.
     General Leadbetter promised to send up engineer companies to rebuild the railroad bridge at Loudon. May I ask that you will have this attended to for us as soon as possible, as I have no means myself of having the bridge rebuilt.
      We have been occupied to-day in driving the enemy from his advance line of defenses, only succeeding a little before night. Though we had no general battle, we have been skirmishing every day since we crossed the river and have sustained considerable loss. Various rumors here state that the enemy expects relief from the army at Chattanooga.
     I remain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

     Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 707.

On the 16th Longstreet had confronted two Union divisions and Sander's cavalry covering Burnside's withdrawal into Knoxville.  Hartranft's division beat McLaw's in a race to secure the crossroads.  This enabled Burnside to get his trains by safely, while other troops formed a line for Hartranft to withdraw to.  In the skirmishing the Union forces lost 318 men and the Confederates 174.  Had Longstreet's troops gotten there first, the outcome of the Knoxville campaign would likely have been much different.

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