Jany 16th 1. P. M 1864
MAJ GEN H. W. HALLECK
GEN IN CHIEF
Longstreet is said to be moving towards Knoxville by the main Virginia road reinforced by one division from Ewells 1 Corps; another division expected.
I have advised Gen Foster to keep between Longstreet and Thomas and the latter to use every exertion to forward supplies.
The question of supplies makes it impossible to reinforce Foster where he now is and will I think defeat the enemy.
U. S. GRANT
Telegram received, DNA, RG 107, Telegrams Collected (Bound); copies, ibid., Telegrams Received in Cipher; ibid., RG 393, Military Div. of the Miss., Hd. Qrs. Correspondence; DLC-USG, V, 40, 94. O. R., I, xxxii, part 2, 109. On Jan. 18, 1864, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck wrote to USG. "Your last telegram in regard to General Foster has caused new anxiety here in regard to our position in East Tennessee. As I have before remarked, the holding of that country is regarded by the President and Secty of war of the very greatest importance, both in a political and military point of view, and no effort must be spared to accomplish that object. While we hold Chattanooga (and it supposed that place will be rendered impregnable during the winter), and the passes of the mountain range which seperates East Tennessee from Georgia and North Carolina, the enemy cannot molest Kentucky or Tennessee except by wide flank marches through Alabama or Mississippi, and by the valley of Virginia, which would give us very great strategic advantage by enabling us to move on central and interior lines. Again, if we resume the offensive, we shall have the advantage of operating from a central position against their long line of defense and of selecting our point of attack. I fully agree with you in the great importance of being able in the next campaign to select our theatre of operations and fields of battle, instead of having them forced on us by the rebels. But we cannot do this unless we have the control of East Tennessee I also fully agree with you that our greatest difficulty at present is to supply our troops in that country. Every possible effort should be made to increase the supplies at Chattanooga and to open and protect the line from that place to Knoxville. The project of General Burnside, adopted in part I understand by General Foster, to build a new rail road and to open new lines of communication with Kentucky across the mountains, does not seem to me to be feasible; at least it will not obviate the difficulty; for they roads cannot be built and opened in time to be of any use in this campaign or the next. General Thomas