February 8, 1864: Yankees worried about East Tennessee

John Sedgwick

The Richmond Daily Dispatch is happy to see the Northern papers worried about Longstreet in East Tennessee. They’ve sent Sedgwick’s 6th corps to Knoxville, must be trouble.

Position of Affairs in Tennessee.

That the Yankee Administration is seriously alarmed by the aspect of affairs in East Tennessee is shown by the statement, which has been allowed to be made public through a Boston paper, that the 6th corps, from the Army of the Potomac, under Gen. Sedgwick, has been sent post haste to Knoxville. The New York World says:

The recent withdrawal of the rebels from Dalton, if, indeed, that story is true, will account for the reinforcements which have been spoken of as having reached Longstreet’s army. The commander at Chattanooga seems to have been the roughly deceived by the movements of the rebels in his front, and it was by mere accident that the retreat of Johnston’s army was discovered. If, as we fear, the rebels have been quietly concentrating the bulk of their forces under Longstreet, it is not impossible the next news we may hear will be the capture of Knoxville, and perhaps the taking of Cumberland Gap. Should the rebels accomplish both these feats, and be able to send a large force of cavalry into Kentucky, it would put General Grant to his mettle to preserve his communications between Louisville, Nashville, and Chattanooga. His flank at Chattanooga at least would be turned. The recent movement of Forrest upon Columbia would now appear to be a feint to distract the attention of the Federal commanders and employ their cavalry at a point where they could not be of use to resist the advance of a large rebel cavalry force into Eastern Kentucky.

The rebels have chosen a good time for their purpose to strike an ugly blow at the Union armies. A great number of the western regiments are now on furlough, and the process of reorganization with the new recruits is rapidly going on. Our army is not in good condition to resist the impetuous onset of a well disciplined force. General foster, also, is now lying sick in Knoxville, and his military ability will not be available to defeat that city.

While there is much to fear, however, we still have a well grounded hope that the possibility of a campaign of this kind has been foreseen and guarded against by General Grant. The sending of another army corps from Virginia looks, however, as if matters in Eastern Tennessee were a very serious aspect in the eyes of our military authorities.

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