This morning, I rode from Marysville into Knoxville, and met General Burnside. General Granger arrived later in the day. We examined his lines of fortifications, which were a wonderful production for the short time allowed in their selection of ground and construction of work. It seemed to me that they were nearly impregnable. We examined the redoubt named “Sanders,” where, on the Sunday previous, three brigades of the enemy had assaulted and met a bloody repulse. Now, all was peaceful and quiet; but a few hours before, the deadly bullet sought its victim all round about that hilly barrier.
Returning to Burnside’s quarters, we all sat down to a good dinner, embracing roast turkey. There was a regular dining table, with clean tablecloth, dishes, knives, forks, spoons, etc. I had seen nothing of this kind in my field experience, and could not help exclaiming that I thought “they were starving,” etc. Burnside explained that Longstreet had at no time completely invested the place, and that he had kept open communication with the country on the south side of the river Holston, more especially with the French Broad settlements, from whose Union inhabitants he had received a good supply of beef, bacon, and corn meal. Had I known of this, I should not have hurried my men so fast; but until I reached Knoxville I thought his troops there were actually in danger of starvation.
General Burnside explained to me fully and frankly what he had done, and what he proposed to do. He asked of me nothing but General Granger’s command; and suggested, in view of the large force I had brought from Chattanooga, that I should return with due expedition to the line of the Hiawasaee, lest Bragg, reenforced, might take advantage of our absence to resume the offensive.