44 Series I Volume XVI-I Serial 22 - Morgan's First Kentucky Raid, Perryville Campaign Part I

Page 44 KY., M. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXVIII.

large force of cavalry and light infantry can be pushed across the mountains by the Dunlap and Therman roads, attack him in rear, and completely rout his whole force. I have studied the roads, and am now convinced that this is our best plan of attack.

It was afterward ascertained that the rebel forces under General Bragg actually commenced to arrive at Sparta the day after the date of this dispatch.

The reasons which made the concentration at Murfreesborough necessary and proper may now be briefly summed up:

It had been supposed that for the lack of supplies on the route the enemy would make his march across the mountains rapidly. Several days had already elapsed since, from the best information that could be obtained of his movements, it was supposed he would have arrived within striking distance, and he was still no nearer than the Sequatchie Valley.

My supplies had been cut off for twenty days, and the expectation that the force in Kentucky would reopen the railroad, on which they were dependent, was frustrated by the invasion of the State by Kirby Smith, which, as the result proved, gave more than ample occupation to the raw troops that were there. I did not even know what force of that kind could be expected, for its organization had only very recently been commenced and the State had recently been organized into a separate department not under my command. I was already reduced to about ten day's supply-a little more than that of breadstuff and some minor articles and a good deal less of meat and other articles scarcely less essential. The quantity was increased at Nashville a little by the collection of flour and meat in the country. General Thomas reported on the 28th from McMinnville that no provisions could be procured in that region, and that for forage he could get fodder, but no corn; and his statement in regard to the scarcity in the country is confirmed by testimony before the Commission. Such straits did not admit of any further delay to await an enemy who could choose his own time for the meeting and who had already been eight days behind the time at which I had reason to expect him. An immediate concentration at a point nearer the source of supply, from which I was separated 260 miles, was clearly necessary. It promised the only means of opening the railroad and still holding Nashville, the possession of which was believed to be the enemy's first object.

But the concentration at Murfreesborough was expedient on other grounds. I could not have concentrated at any point as far in advance as McMinnville more than about 31,000 men, and that force was not sufficient to attack Bragg's army united at any point. If I could have taken any position in which I could force or induce him to attack without delay it would have been well, but such was not the case. In this uncertainty as to the time he might delay and as to the route on which he would strike in force, while perhaps threatening by other routes, screened as he was by a range of mountains, with our communications with Louisville completely severed, and our supplies already reduced to a narrow margin, perhaps to be entirely exhausted when the advance of the enemy would make rapid operations necessary, it was plainly necessary to concentrate at some point nearer our base, by which means my effective force would be increased so as to be sufficient to meet the enemy whenever he should come and still have enough to open our communications.

The plan of operations presented in the evidence of another witness of rank before the Commission was to concentrate the army at Murfreesborough as soon as the rebel army commenced its advance from


Page 44 KY., M. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXVIII.

 

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