General Grant issued these orders:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS, MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
Numbers 37. Chattanooga, Tennessee, December 17, 1863
I. Major General George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, will move that portion of his command now encamped in Lookout Valley, except such as may be necessary to protect and guard the railroad, and distribute the troops along the Tennessee River between the Suck and Bridgeport at such points as he may determine.
II. Major General W. T. Sherman, commanding Department of the Tennessee, will immediately take that portion of his command now in the field and proceed to some convenient point on the Tennessee River west of Bridgeport, and there encamp until the railroad from Nashville to Decatur has been completed. Upon the completion of the road or on receipt of orders all the forces will be moved to Decatur, or as near there as may be convenient, excepting only such troops as may be employed in guarding lines of communication, and there remain until further orders.
General Sherman will collect all the quartermaster and commissary stores in the district through which he passes, not only for the subsistence of his command but for storage, and no receipt for property taken will be given except to loyal citizens.
By order of Major General U. S. Grant:
GEO. K. LEET, Assistant Adjutant-General
I passed these orders to my command:
SPECIAL ORDERS, HDQRS. DEPT. AND ARMY OF THE Tennessee, Numbers 23.
Chattanooga, Tennessee December 17, 1863
I. All the officers and troops belonging to the Army of the Tennessee, now serving in the country near Bridgeport and Chattanooga, will move by easy marches to the neighborhood of Bellefonte and Larkinsville-headquarters at Bellefonte.
II. The two divisions of the Fifteenth Corps now at Chattanooga will take charge of the pontoons designed for a bridge across the Tennessee, and will move them down the river to Mud Creek, a few miles above Bellefonte (stopping at Bridgeport long enough to organize their trains and have the troops paid); part of the divisions manning the boats, and the balance moving by land. The divisions will establish their camps near the boats safely moored up Mud Creek. Each of the divisions will take charge of thirty of the pontoons and the First Battalion Thirteenth U. S. Infantry will take charge of ten.
III. Major General John A. Logan, commanding Fifteenth Army Corps, is charged with the execution of this order, and will select camps for the several divisions with a view to an easy collection of forage and provisions.
IV. All the forage and provisions in that region of country will be collected and stored under the direction of division and brigade quartermasters and commissaries. Such as may be taken from loyal owners will be paid for by formal vouchers, but when taken from rebels or disloyal owners no compensation will be made.
V. The chief quartermaster and commissary of the Department of the Tennessee will make all arrangements for the supply of the troops of all clothing and stores not yielded by the country.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General