Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Buell's Eye Now on Nashville

Following yesterday's discouraging report,  Buell further explains the futility of his infantry's pursuing Bragg's wagons and cavalry.  His army has covered more territory on foot than any comparable force, having marched from Nashville to Louisville and now as far as Mount Vernon, Kentucky, covering nearly 300 miles in about one month. (Keep in mind that his army had been scattered from Nashville to Florence, Alabama when the orders to move to Kentucky were issued.)  He plans to return to Nashville and then proposes taking east Tennessee with a reinforced version of the same army he withdrew through Nashville, leaving the rest to guard Kentucky under the command of General Wright.


Camp near Mount Vernon, Ky., October 17, 1862.

(Received October 19.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

My advance has continued to follow up the retreat of the enemy, but the progress has been slow, owing more to the obstructions places in the road yesterday and to-day by felling tress than to the opposition, though more or less skirmishing has been kept up. The absence of forage has compelled me to keep back the greater part of the cavalry and artillery and depend mainly on infantry. It is possible that we may be able to strike the enemy's trains and rear guard coming in on the Richmond road, but not much more, and if he gets beyond London without that it will be useless to continue the pursuit; and, as I advised you last night, I shall direct my main force by the most direct route upon Nashville, where its presence will certainly be required, whether for offensive or defensive objects. I propose to take the old divisions which I brought out of Tennessee, to each brigade of which I have added a new regiment, and one other (Sheridan's), composed about two-thirds of new regiments. Kentucky should not, under the present condition of things, be left with less than 30,000 men to guard communications and repel raids. I propose for the present to place one brigade at Lebanon, one at Munfordville, one division at Bowling Green, besides the necessary bridge guards at various points. General Wright has, I believe, moved one division to Lexington. That force should be kept there, or, better still - as long as the roads are in condition so that it can be supplied - should be thrown forward to London. There should be two regiments of cavalry at Lexington, two at Bowling Green, and two at Lebanon. They should be employed actively against guerrilla bands and concentrate rapidly against more formidable cavalry raids. There can, however, be no perfect security for Kentucky until East Tennessee is occupied. There has been no time hitherto when that could be done with any prospect of permanency. With the force that was available we should have marched into the very heart of the enemy's resources and away from our own, just as Bragg did in invading Kentucky, and with any means that we have hitherto had the result must have been similar. The enemy will regard the invasion of East Tennessee as the most dangerous blow at the rebellion, and will, it seems to me, turn his greatest efforts against it, limiting his operations in Virginia if necessary to the defense of Richmond. From this our estimate can be formed of the force with which it should be undertaken or at least followed up.


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