Sherman orders Schofield to move toward Hiwassee River and break railroad; advance via Spring Place. Send citizens to rear if necessary.
East Tennessee and North Georgia ̶
[QUOTE pg. 87-88]:
Headquarters Division of the Mississippi,
Nashville, March 18, 1864.
Commanding Department of the Ohio, Knoxville:
General: I am just arrived and assumed command. General Grant leaves for the East to-morrow. I have had a full conversation with him, and to enable him to fulfill his plans I can merely foreshadow coming events. You will push Longstreet from up the
valley as far as you can, and prepare to break up the railroad back toward Knoxville. Hold Knoxville and the gap. Also arrange to have a force of cavalry, infantry, and light artillery on the waters of the Big Sandy in the direction of Prestonburg, which must subsist on the country, and not locate, but act so as to threaten or attack any force coming from the northeast. Your main army should at once be organized for offense, ready at the proper time to drop down to the Hiwassee, to move in concert with the main army. I am aware of the difficulties you have in maintaining your army. Appoint good officers to take charge of this branch of your business, and accumulate stores rather at the Hiwassee than at Knoxville. Your route of advance will be most probably by Spring Place. Keep your own counsel; discourage the presence of all stranger; make the citizens feed themselves, and if they are likely to consume the reserves of the country facilitate their removal to the rear. The necessities of war must have precedence of civilians. Write me fully and frankly always. I will see you in person as soon as I can.
W. T. Sherman,
Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 3 (Corresp., etc.--Union), 87-88.
Link to s1, v32, pt3, page 87
REFERENCES: By the time of these events, Union troops were stationed in Calhoun, Charleston, and Cleveland, Tennessee. Johnston's Confederate Army of Tennessee was at Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia. Spring Place is in Murray County, Georgia. It was, and is, the location of the historic Chief Vann House.
The source of the Hiwassee River is in Towns County, Georgia. The river flows north into North Carolina, then runs in a northwesterly direction into Tennessee to Delano, then down to Benton, and west to Charleston, Tennessee. The bridge across the Hiwassee River at Charleston, Tennessee goes north to Calhoun, Tennessee. That bridge was one of the bridges burned in the East Tennessee raid, November 8, 1861. From the Calhoun-Charleston area, the Hiwassee River runs northwest almost to Dayton, Tennessee, where the Hiwassee empties into the Tennessee River.
This area was important for the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad.