Chattanooga November 15th 1863.
MAJOR GENERAL. A. E. BURNSIDE
I do not know how to impress on you the necessity of holding on to East Tennessee, in strong enough terms. According to the dispatches of Mr. Dana and Col. Wilson it would seem that you should if pressed to do it hold on to Knoxville and that portion of the valley which you will necessarily possess holding to that point. Should Longstreet move his whole force across the Little Tennessee, an effort should be made to cut his pontoons on that stream even if it sacrificed half the cavalry of the Ohio Army. By holding on and placing Longstreet between the Little Tennessee and Knoxville he should not be allowed to escape with an army capable of doing any thing this winter. I can hardly conceive the necessity of retreating from East Tennessee. If I did so at all it would be after losing most of the Army, and then necessity would suggest the route. I will not attempt to lay out a line of retreat. Kingston, looking at the map, I thought of more importance than any other point in East Tennessee. But my attention being more closely called to it, I can see that might be passed by and Knoxville and the rich valley around it possessed, ignoring that place entirely. I should not think it advisable to concentrate a force near Little Tennessee, to resist the crossing of it would be in danger of capture, but I would harass and embarrass progress in every way possible reflecting on the fact that the army of the Ohio is not the only army to resist the onward progress of the enemy.
U. S. GRANT