General Howard last night repaired and planked the railroad-bridge. I issued the following orders:
SPECIAL ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE Tennessee
No. 16. Athens, Tennessee, December 1, 1863
I. The several divisions composing this army in the field will march at dawn of day tomorrow, prepared to make a long and forced march, if necessary, on Loudon, keeping well closed up and prepared for any event that may arise.
The march will be in the following order: First, the Eleventh Corps, Maj. General O. O. Howard commanding; second, the division commanded by General Jeff. C. Davis; third, the Fifteenth Corps, Maj. General F. P. Blair, jr., commanding.
II. All the cavalry belonging to the command will be massed under the command of Colonel Long, and will, at 2 o’clock p.m. tomorrow, be in the column between Generals Howard and Davis, prepared to leave the column and dash forward to secure the bridge at Loudon.
III. The head of the infantry column will await at Philadelphia a report from the cavalry as to the condition of things at Loudon.
By order of Maj. General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General
At daylight the army passed over the Hiawassee and marched to Athens, fifteen miles. I have supposed that General Granger is about the mouth of the Hiawassee, and sent him notice of my orders; General Grant had sent me a copy of his written instructions, which were full and complete, and that Granger must push for Kingston, near which we could make a junction. But by the time I reached Athens I had better studied the geography, and sent him orders, which found him at Decatur, that Kingston was out of our way; that he should send his boat to Kingston, but with his command strike across to Philadelphia, and report to me there. I have but a small force of cavalry, which at the time of my receipt of General Grant’s orders, was scouting over about Benton and Columbus. I left my aide, Major McCoy, at Charleston, to communicate with this cavalry and hurry it forward. It overtook me tonight at Athens.