December 2, 1863: Longstreet repulsed

Ambrose E. Burnside

While Sherman is hurrying up from Chattanooga with reinforcements for Burnside, it appears that Burnside is actually not in much danger. He’s entrenched, and Longstreet’s attack on his lines was unsuccessful.

Official Records:

TAZEWELL, December 2, 1863-7.30 a. m.
(Received 1.40 p. m.)
General GRANT:

A courier came in from the front last night with the report that heavy firing was heard at Knoxville from 3 o’clock p. m. yesterday to the time he left. Can this be Granger attacking Longstreet’s rear?

I am posting my small force on the Clinch River in good positions for defense or offense.



CHATTANOOGA, December 2, 1863-8 p. m.

Major-General FOSTER, Tazewell, Tennessee:

Sherman will reach Knoxville to-morrow or the day following. His force is large, and Longstreet must retreat before it without
much fighting. I do not see how his route can be any other than up the valley. You will no doubt be able to inflict a heavy blow upon his retreating column.



TAZEWELL, Tennessee, December 2, 1863-12 noon.
(Received 5.05 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,

A party of 8,1 of whom is an officer, have arrived; left Knoxville on Monday night. They report that General Burnside was strongly intrenched, sufficiently supplied, and confident of holding out any reasonable length of time. Midnight on Saturday Longstreet made a desperate assault on Fort Sanders with a picked command. The engagement lasted all night until 7 o’clock next morning. The rebels were completely repulsed with a loss of 1,000 men, of whom 250 were killed. General Burnside lost 45 killed and wounded. Some of the prisoners reported that Buckner’s forces had joined Longstreet, whole entire force is estimated at 38,000 men. One of the party brought dispatches to you, which I have not yet seen, giving full report of operations up to time of writing. The general impression I received from the officer who gives this information is that General Burnside and his men are in excellent spirits, and confident of their ability to defeat the efforts of the enemy.

(Same to General Grant.)

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