Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 27, 1863 (Friday): "The rout of the enemy is most complete."

U. S. Grant

Major General U. S. GRANT,
Chattanooga, Tennessee
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, November 27, 1863-1 a.m.
(Received 3.10 a.m.)
    I am just in from the front. The rout of the enemy is most complete. Abandoned wagons, caissons, and occasional pieces of artillery are everywhere to be found. I think Bragg's loss will fully reach sixty pieces of artillery. A large number of prisoners have fallen into our hands. The pursuit will continue to Red Clay in the morning, for which place I shall start in a few hours.

    U. S. GRANT,

RICHMOND, VA., November 27, 1863.
General B. BRAGG,
Ringgold, Ga.:
     Are you in communication with General Longstreet? Have the re-enforcements from General Johnston arrived? Have the local troops joined you? You have need to concentrate rapidly.


ORANGE COURT-HOUSE, November 27, 1863.
His Excellency President DAVIS,
Richmond, Va.:
     I fear the falling back to General Bragg may compromise Longstreet. Communication with him should be opened through Bristol.

    R. E. LEE.

RICHMOND, November 27, 1863.
Major-General RANSOM,
(To be forwarded.)
     If you are not in communication with General Longstreet, endeavor to open it and inform him of all matters in your front; also, that General Bragg has fallen back before superior fores at Ringgold and hopes to make a stand there, and that his co-operation is necessary and the greatest promptitude required.


RINGGOLD, GA., November 27, 1863-1 p.m.
Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,
Near Chattanooga:
    Hooker has just driven the enemy from this place, capturing three pieces of artillery and some prisoners. Sherman is near by. It is reported by citizens that Longstreet is expected to-morrow, and that the enemy will make a stand at Dalton. I do not intend to pursue farther however. I think it best not to rely on statements of citizens altogether. You will direct Granger, therefore, to start at once, marching as rapidly as possible, to the relief of Burnside. Should he obtain satisfactory evidence that Longstreet has abandoned the siege of Knoxville, he will return at once.

     U. S. GRANT,

Via Chattanooga, Tennessee, November 27, 1863-7 p.m
(Received 1.30 a.m., 28th.)
     The pursuit has continued to this point with continuous skirmishing. It is asserted by citizens that Longstreet is expected to-morrow, and that the enemy will make a stand at Dalton. I shall not take their word however, but will start Granger this evening to Burnside's relief. I am not prepared to continue pursuit farther.

      U. S. GRANT,
      Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 564:  Series I., Vol. 31, Part 2, Pages 46, 47.

The problems for the Confederates were numerous.  The salt works at Saltville were of vital importance to both the civilian and military populations.  If Wilcox continued to move toward them they would require defending.  Bragg's army was now moving South and was, as noted by Grant's account, very much routed.  Longstreet may, or may not, have known the status of Bragg's forces.  There was the distinct possibility of not only crippling Bragg but of concentrating decisive force against Longstreet.  The terrain worked against rapidity, but the Union position was very strong.  Once Burnside was relieved, possibilities would continue to open to Grant.

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