Today, the army moved to Charleston, General Howard approaching so rapidly that the enemy evacuated with haste, leaving the bridge but partially damaged, and five car-loads of flour and provisions on the north bank of the Hiawassee.
This was to have been the limit of our operations. Officers and men have no baggage or provisions, and the weather is bitter cold. I had already reached the town of Charleston, when General Wilson arrived with a letter from General Grant, at Chattanooga, informing me that the latest authentic accounts from Knoxville were to the 27th, at which time General Burnside was completely invested, and had provisions only to include the 3d of December. General Granger has left Chattanooga for Knoxville, by the river-road, with a steamboat following him in the river. Grant fears that General Granger can not reach Knoxville in time, and has ordered me to take command of all troops moving for the relief of Knoxville, and hasten to General Burnside.
Seven days ago, we left our camps on the other side of the Tennessee with two days’ rations, without a change of clothing, stripped for the fight, with but a single blanket or coat per man, from myself to the private included.
Of course, we have no provisions save what we gathered by the road, and are ill supplied for such a march. But we learn that twelve thousand of our fellow-soldiers are beleaguered in the mountain town of Knoxville, eighty-four miles distant; that they needed relief, and must have it in three days. This is enough and it has to be done.