Thursday, December 10, 1863

Tellico, Tennessee

I left Tellico last night and am on the road to Athens to meet with General Howard and view the situation there. General Davis may be making an unnecessary march. I prefer to keep him where he is to guard the crossings there.

On the Road from Tellico to Athens, December 10, 1863- 6 a.m.

General JEFF. C. DAVIS, At or near Columbus:

DEAR GENERAL: Yesterday morning a courier overtook me before reaching Tellico with a dispatch from General Howard, in which he gave a report of citizens, generally credited and which he deemed worthy of my notice, that Bragg was moving up a heavy column this way, and that it was already at Charleston. On this report I detached Ewing’s division to him at Athens, and authorized him to call for you.

Last night I got a message from him at Athens reporting all right. One of his brigades in possession of the Charleston bridge and you at Columbus. This is as it should be, but he said he regarded my order to call for you as peremptory, and had sent it to you. I gave this order dependent on his knowledge of the truth of the report he had sent me, but I now countermand the whole order, and hope you are still at Columbus, and control the Hiwassee there.

If you have marched you may go to Eastinaula and pick out any place you please between Athens and Charleston, only reporting to me at Athens your whereabouts. I have sent Long over the mountains into Georgia, and we must stay in this neighborhood till he comes back. I expect some provisions up and will see you get your share. In the mean time you must look out for meat and mills. You can remain at Columbus to our advantage by making the enemy believe we are going to turn Dalton by moving down the east side of the Oostenaula. As our next move will be Chattanooga to refit and resupply, I will want to know if you can cross at Columbus and march to Cleveland without coming round by the Charleston bridge. Morgan L. Smith’s division will stay at Tellico to cover Long’s expedition.

I will be at Athens today, tomorrow, and maybe longer.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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