January 24, 1864: Grant wants Longstreet out of Tennessee

James Longstreet
James Longstreet

Gen. J. G. Foster
J. G. Foster


My impression is that Grant wasn’t really convinced by Halleck’s concerns over sending troops out of Tennessee, but he took it seriously enough to want to get rid of Longstreet permanently. He orders troops to East Tennessee to try to drive Longstreet out entirely.

Official Records:

CHATTANOOGA, January 24, 1864 – 3 p. m.
Major-General FOSTER:

Can you not now organize a cavalry force to work its way past Longstreet south of him, to get into his rear and destroy railroad and transportation, or cannot Willcox do this from the north? Either this should be done or battle given where Longstreet now is. Let me know what you think about this.



January 24, 1864 – 7.30 p. m.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Facilities will be given you for getting supplies, either by transferring boats to your quartermaster or having them used for your benefit. Move forward and attack Longstreet as soon as you can, and if more troops are required send to me for them.

Do you think it practicable to collect Willcox’s forces and move them by Jonesville to Abingdon? If they could destroy the road from Abingdon to Saltville it would be worth taking a great risk.

Major-General Volunteers.
CHATTANOOGA, January 24, 1864.


Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Should the advance of Longstreet upon Knoxville make re-enforcements to Foster necessary, send the remainder of the Fourth Corps, except artillery. I do not deem more artillery necessary under any circumstances, unless you should deem it advisable as safeguard whilst on the march. Should the exigencies of Foster’s position make more re-enforcements necessary send such of the troops as you can spare.

In case you are called on for troops to go into East Tennessee I wish you to take the command in person, and on arrival at Knoxville to take command of all the forces.

The condition Foster is now in makes it impossible for him to take the field. In justice to himself, and as I want Longstreet routed and pursued beyond the limits of the State of Tennessee, it is necessary to have a commander physically able for the task.

Troops started from Chattanooga with three days’ rations in haversacks will be able to make the trip to Loudon, drawing the balance of their supplies from the country. Receipts should be given in all cases where supplies are taken from loyal persons to enable them to get their pay in accordance with existing orders.

I wish it impress this fact: If further re-enforcements are sent from here to East Tennessee, Longstreet is to be driven beyond the reach of doing further harm in this State. Troops enough should beset to secure this result.

Should taking such a force weaken Chattanooga dangerously, I will order such force from Logan’s command to their place as will secure it.

In drawing troops from Chattanooga it would not be necessary to wait the arrival of their substitutes. The fact of their being on the way would be sufficient. I would advise that immediate attention be given to preparations for moving troops, so that they may be got off, if required, on the shortest possible notice.


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