Buell finally decided to move his entire force up to Kentucky, except for a division holding Nashville. With Bragg threatening a junction with Kirby Smith in Kentucky, the only hope of holding Nashville was to defeat them up north. Basically,l practically all the forces in the western theater were headed for a confrontation in Kentucky. Stay tuned.
BOWLING GREEN, KY., September 14, 1862.
Via Evansville, Ind., September 19.
Major-General HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
It has been apparent to me for some time that, on purely military grounds, the force in Middle Tennessee should fall back on its base. The political effect, however, of such a move occurred to me so serious that I have hesitated to execute it, still hoping that the force in Kentucky would be able to open my communications. As that was not done it became absolutely necessary to fall back, with a portion of the force at least, to act against the enemy in Kentucky. I commenced that move Sunday last with five divisions, but its execution was delayed a couple of days by the reported movements of the enemy. I had expected that Bragg would detach a portion of his force to re-enforce Kirby Smith, while he, with the balance, would await the period of our starving out in Tennessee. It now appears that he is moving his whole force into Kentucky, and it is now concentrated, or nearly so, at Glasgow. I have therefore ordered up all but one division from Nashville . They will arrive here on the 17th. I arrived here to-day with two divisions of the first force and shall commence to move against Bragg’s force on the 16th. You will not fail to observe that he is virtually between me and Louisville, and all communications by telegraph and railroad are cut off. I am not insensible to the difficulty and embarrassment of the position, but it must be so for him also, and I hope it may result in his discomfiture and not ours. The danger is that he may form a junction with Smith. I apprehend that the latter may be moving for that object now. I am retaining only a nominal hold on Nashville and at the risk of losing the force (about 5,000 men) that I have there; but I trust to the belief that there is not for the present any organized force to come against it unless Price pauses longer, and I deem it better to do so than to undergo the political effect of entirely abandoning the place. I would like your instructions or views about it. It may still be possible to withdraw the remainder of the force. I did not place implicit confidence on T—-,—-, [Thatcher], but he has given me correct information.
D. C. BUELL,
Meanwhile, the situation was beyond urgent. Bragg was actually at Glasgow, 30 miles east of Bowling Green, and Kirby Smith’s troops were in battle with Union troops at Munfordville, about 40 miles northeast of Bowling Green and basically between Bowling Green and Louisville. The feared junction was imminent.
LOUISVILLE, KY., September 14, 1862-1.15 p. m.
Major-General WRIGHT, Cincinnati:
Bragg is at Glasgow and Cave City in force; others are marching to join him. Sent in flag of truce demanding surrender of Colonel Wilder at Munfordville, who relied they must fight and take them. Buell’s army are not up. You will have to send forces here. It is all a feint before Cincinnati to draw off forces from here.
J. T. BOYLE.
Louisville, Ky., September 14, 1862.
Major-General WRIGHT, Cincinnati:
Colonel Scott, First Louisiana Cavalry, has summoned Colonel Wilder to surrender, and this morning Colonel Dunham reports from Bacon Creek, 8 miles north, that a fight is going on at Munfordville. Colonel McCook, who knows Colonel Wilder, says Scott cannot take him unless it is an attack in very strong force; if so, the enemy will probably close on Buell, who must be at Bowling Green, or Buell will attack. I look for a battle not far from Bowling Green or Glasgow.
[Copy of the telegram from Colonel Wilder.]
Colonel Scott, First Louisiana Cavalry, has just summoned me to surrender unconditionally. I peremptorily refused. He claims to have me cut off and surrounded. I shall fight anything that comes. Scott claims to be the advance of Kirby Smith’s division. Rebel forces have been coming from the direction of Lebanon to-day.
C. C. GILBERT.