December 6, 1863: Longstreet retreating

James Longstreet

Sherman’s troops have arrived in the Knoxville area, and all the signs indicate that Longstreet is retreating.

TAZEWELL, Tennessee, December 6, 1863-9.20 a.m.

(Received 8 p.m.)

Major Gen. H. W. HALLECK,


After the repulse of the enemy’s cavalry at the Clinch River on the 2nd, their whole force continued to hover around, endeavoring to turn our flanks and to force some of the fords. In all these efforts they were foiled and driven back in several small encounters. In addition we succeeded in blockading a portion of the valley road near Ruttledge in the front of Ransom’s column.

Yesterday the whole cavalry force withdrew in the direction of Knoxville. Graham’s brigade followed a short distance.

To-day I unite Garrad’s brigade with it and send the whole forward under Colonel Foster to hover on the enemy’s rear.

It is reported that the roads in front are blockaded, and that the enemy have burned the railroad bridges at Strawberry Plains and Mossy Creek. If this be so, it indicates that Longstreet is, or soon will be, retreating. Scouts report cannonading yesterday in the direction of Clinton.



TAZEWELL, Tennessee, December 6, 1863-noon.

(Received 8.15 p.m.)

Maj. General H. W. HALLECK,


The cavalry scouts just returned from the vicinity of Blain’s Cross-Roads report a rebel column passing all last night from Knoxville to Blain’s Cross-Roads. They heard the men say that they were going to Virginia; that the Yankees had them surrounded., but that they were going to fight their way out. My scouts on the top of Clinch Mountain say large camp-fires were seen last night on the road from Blain’s Cross-Roads to Rutledge. I have no doubt that Longstreet is retreating. My division of cavalry is moving on his rear through Maynardville and Blain’s Cross-Roads.



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