December 4, 1863: Burnside holding out well

Ambrose Burnside

General Foster congratulates Burnside on his defense of Knoxville.

Official Records:

TAZEWELL, Tennessee, December 4, 1863-10.15 a. m.

(Received 3.30 p. m.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,


The enemy’s cavalry retired yesterday toward Knoxville, closely followed by our cavalry. Our scouts went 7 miles beyond Maynardville. Heavy firing was heard all day yesterday at Knoxville. I have ordered a detachment of cavalry to blockade the valley road from Spring House to Bean’s Station.



(Same to General Grant.)

TAZEWELL, December 4, 1863.

MY DEAR BURNSIDE: I arrived here three days since with the force of General Willcox, with the object of being as near you as possible, so as to harass Longstreet’s flanks when he commences to retreat, as he must, for Sherman’s force above is more than a match for him. General Grant telegraphs me that Sherman will be at Knoxville to-day or to-morrow. Three divisions of Wheeler’s cavalry and Jones’ division came out and drove Graham’s brigade back from Maynardville to Walker’s Ford on the Clinch River. There the infantry and artillery supports drove them back with loss. Yesterday it all retired to Knoxville closely followed by Colonel Graham, who is now near Maynardville. I have ordered the road from Spring House to Bean’s Station to be blockaded. All the cavalry of the division is also to be on the road near Maynardville to act according to circumstances. I have sent couriers to General Granger, informing him of my position, and the favorable point for striking the flank of the retreating enemy. Ransom with his division passed down past Bean’s Station yesterday morning just after daybreak, en route for Knoxville. The scouts report heavy firing at Knoxville yesterday. I hope you have given Longstreet a sound thrashing, similar to the one of Sunday morning; that was a very handsome affair. Couriers frequently arrive from Knoxville. Yesterday a party of 125 officers and men arrived. They report everything favorable and that you are confident of holding out against every attack Longstreet can make. If there is anything I can do for you more than I have done, please let me know. A thousand congratulations on your brilliant defense which has so long monopolized the attention of the country. Give my love to Parke.

Ever yours, most truly,


Major-General of Volunteers.

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