Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 6, 1863 (Saturday): Longstreet Retreats

General James Longsteet

TAZEWELL, Tennessee, December 6, 1863-6 p..m.
(Received 2.15 a.m., 7th.)
Major-General HALLECK,
     There seems no doubt that Longstreet is in full retreat. A deserter who came in to-day reports that he came out with the column from Knoxville on the 4th. The infantry and transportation moving up the valley on the other side of the Holston, and the cavalry from this side to cover from my attack. The talk among the soldiers was that they were going to Virginia or North Carolina. Foster's cavalry division was 4 miles this side of Maynardville at 2 p.m., when the courier left, preparing to attack the enemy's cavalry.

      J. G. FOSTER

      (Same to General Grant.)

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 344.

Longstreet was headed for winter quarters at Rogersville, Tennessee, roughly 65 miles northeast of Knoxville.  A scratch force of infantry and cavalry followed in pursuit, but not aggressively.  If Longstreet had entertained thoughts of advancement in the west, they were not to come to pass.  When Davis accepted Bragg's resignation (much to Bragg's surprise) there appears to have been no thought given to Longstreet as a replacement.  Although he won plaudits for his performance at Chickamauga he was part of the cabal which plotted against Bragg, botched an attack on an exposed element of the Union forces at Chattanooga, missed an opportunity at Campbell's Station, and dawdled before Knoxville, finally failing badly in an attack on Fort Sanders.

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