The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 28, 1863
Dalton, Ga. Dec.27.
|GEN. J.E. Johnston|
(CDV, M.D. Jones collection)
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and staff arrived here last evening. To day he issued an order assuming command of the Army of Tennessee.
Eleven Yankees captured a short distance from Tunnel Hill yesterday, by a detachment of Kelley's cavalry, were brought here to day.
CONDITIONS IN THE AOT
I resume the pen for the purpose of the public mind of an impression in regard to the future movements of the Army of Tennessee. I allude to the belief, said to be mined very generally in Georgia, that the army was engaged in repairing the route and constructing bridges in the rear with a view to falling back upon Atlanta. Having heard that same was felt upon this subject, I called upon Gen. Hardee before leaving Dalton, and I have his authority for saying that he has not the least thought of retiring from his present position; but on the contrary, if the enemy should advance this winter, which he does not believe they will do, he will dispute every spot of ground from Tunnel Hill to Atlanta. He believes, moreover, that if the will return to duty and the people at home will continue to supply the army with the means of the Federal army will never succeed in reaching Atlanta any move then it has succeeded in reaching Richmond. It is now reported that Gen. Johnston has been assigned to the command of the army, but there is no reason to believe that he will withdraw in the direction of Atlanta of a time when there is no prospect of an advance by the enemy.
But will Gen Grant make a forward movements this winter? To do so, he must first accumulates large stores of subsistence at or Chattanooga, and procure a fresh supply of horses and wagons to be used in conjunction with the railroad in the transportation of them. To complete these preparations will require, not days nor weeks merely, but months. An army is an immense machine, which can be moved only with much difficulty and expense. In the present instance, Grant would first have to repair the railway bridges at Bridgeport and bring up supplies, increase his terms and wagons, repair the Western and Atlanta railroad as he advanced, and bring with him cars and locomotives to do his transportation. It is known that thousands of his horses perished or were disabled at Chattanooga, and that Wheeler destroyed and captured over a thousand of his teams, and four or five times as many mules and horses, a few days after the battle of Chickamauga. It is known, too, that the Federal army encamped around Chattanooga was reduced to greater extremity for food than the Confederates have ever been, not because they did not have the supplies in the rear, but because they could not get them up. And the recent intelligence that a portion of the army have gone towards Stevenson and Nashville, is all explained, it is believed, by the suggestion that they have been of attributed along the railroad to the rear with a view of lessening the pressure upon Chattanooga, and to greater convenience to supplies. If any troops have been sent to Virginia, they are probably the two Potomac corps which Hooker took to the assistance of Rosecrans, and which he is now returning to the Rappahannock.
For these reasons, taken in connection with the fact that the enemy has destroyed the Western and Atlantic railroad from Ringgold back to Chickamauga, and the Georgia and East Tennessee road from Cleveland for the distance of several miles towards Dalton, one may safely conclude there will be no forward movement undertaken by the Federal army this winter.
At last advices, Sherman was at Charleston, Tenn., rebuilding the bridge over the Hiwasse, having abandoned all hope of being able to overtake Longstreet. At Chattanooga, the enemy's forces covered Missionary Ridge and Lookent Mountain, which they had fortified, whilst their videttes were thrown forward along the Chickamauga at all the fords and bridges. The cavalry force which appeared at Lafayette in Walker county, and at Blairsville in Union county, are believed to have been sent out, the one to reconnoitre and the other to procure forage. A raid of any magnitude will hardly be undertaken at this period of the year, when the roads are nearly impassable and the water courses much swollen by the frequent and heavy rains.
The Confederates have all gone into winter quarters.