is very general among citizens living within Longstreets lines that he is making some move toward Georgia. But I have not yet been able to get the facts in a reliable shape. The most reliable reports indicate that one division of Infantry and a considerable force of cavalry have gone in that direction. The Infantry is going up the French Broad. The Cavalry was to go down this side of the mountains and attempt to destroy the rail-roadbelow Loudon, before crossing the mountains into Georgia. They have failed to get across the Little Tennessee, and have probably taken the other route." Copies (dated Feb. 18), DNA, RG 393, Military Div. of the Miss., Telegrams Received; (dated Feb. 19) DLC-John M. Schofield. Dated Feb. 18, 1:00 P. M., in O. R., I, xxxii, part 2, 422. On Feb. 19, 7:30 P. M., Schofield telegraphed to USG. "If the Division is coming from the North the best route is via Nashville It is hardly possible to bring troops here through Kentucky at this season From Nashville the best route is to Carthage by boat and thence via Montgomery and Winter Gap or they can march from Nashville by way of Sparta & Kingston. The road via Montgomery is the best There is forage enough on either route unless it has been consumed recently" Telegram received, DNA, RG 393, Dept. of the Tenn., Telegrams Received; copies, ibid., Military Div. of the Miss., Telegrams Received; DLC‐ John M. Schofield. O. R., I, xxxii, part 2, 428.
On Feb. 20, 10:00 P. M., Schofield telegraphed to USG. "I sent a cavalry division toward Strawberry Plains today. It met a force of Infantry from three thousand to five thousand strong on the East bank of Flat Creek—Nearly all Longstreets Infantry force appears to be near Strawberry Plains on either side of the river. And most of his cavalry South of the French Broad—I am at a loss to interpret his movements unless he meant to attack this place. —This he will hardly do unless, he has received reinforcements. I cannot learn of his having received any. I am prepared for him, and will try to be forwhatever he may attempt." Copies, DLC-John M. Schofield; DNA, RG 393, Military Div. of the Miss., Telegrams Received. O. R., I, xxxii, part 2, 433. On the same day, Lt. Col. Cyrus B. Comstock, Knoxville, telegraphed to USG. "Reconnoisance of thousand men just returned report three thousand Rebel infantry at Flat Creek Three miles this side Strawberry Plains at that point a Pontoon bridge across river is reported by Scouts and Citizens say Rail Road bridge is being repaired.... a Cavalry Scout across the river seeing a few men and followed them till he came upon Two brigades of Cavalry out Seiverville Road 5 Miles—It is hardly believed that Longstreet will attack Knoxville but nothing has been heard for a few days of his going through Smoky mountains" Copy, DNA, RG 393, Military Div. of the Miss., Telegrams Received.
Nashville noon 17th February 1864
MAJOR GENERAL GEO H THOMAS
Longstreet cannot afford to place his force between Knoxville and the Tennessee. If he does it will then be time to move against