February 1, 1864, Page 1:
Knoxville, Tenn., Jan. 15, 1864. Letters from the West. No. 12.
Luxury is a comparative term. Consequently leaving the Paint Rock and the cars to sleep last Sunday night on the floor at the "Sanitary," was rest and refreshment, and furnished the right to call on Monday morning at Headquarters, and on Parson Brownlow, and to spend the afternoon in visiting the hospitals. Major General Foster, having met with an accident reviving his old Mexican wound and rendering surgical treatment necessary, he has asked to be relieved. The report is that Major General Burnside is to return. This is regarded here as good news, as Burnside is respected, beloved and trusted by civilians and soldiers in this region. His administration was eminently satisfactory. The rhetorically eccentric Parson is working on his paper, and in the discharge of his official and other duties. His household gods [sic] are hardly yet restored to their former supremacy, and his domestic establishment is still on a war footing. He abates none of his hard words, however, and his Whig and Ventilator is pungent and personal as well as loyal.
In fairer hours Knoxville must have been a city of a good deal of pleasantness every way. It is seriously disfigured, but not permanently harmed, by being the scene of strife. Repaired and cleaned up, it will shine with renovated beauty and restored prosperity. It is to be hoped its days of tribulation are passed. The peril it was in, and the endurance and gallantry by which it was saved, can only be fully comprehended within its borders. All the manoeuvring and the repulse of the attack on Fort Saunders, by which the enemy was driven off just as the prize was seemingly within his grasp, will form one of the most striking chapters in the history of these troubled times. Strong men held their breath, as it were, for days, and were relieved beyond the power of words to describe when the terrible uncertainty was over.
Tuesday a run of two hours by rail carried me to the headquarters at Strawberry Plain [sic], and, thence, by ambulance eight miles further, I reached the headquarters of the 9th Army Corps at Blain's Cross Roads.
The next morning I visited the 29th (going home in a few days), 36th and 35th. These regiments have seen hard service indeed, and more privation, owing to exceptional circumstances, than it is worth while to relate. They are in fine health, nevertheless, and in good spirits also. As a specimen of their ingenuity and resources, it was quite funny to see not a few of these men shod with raw hide shoes of their own making. At this distant post they were glad, indeed, to hear from home; and their cheers and praises given to Gov. Andrew, the soldier's friend, who had sent an agent so many miles to express his sympathies and exhibit his care for them, were hearty and loud. The 9th has been a travelling corps. In North Carolina, on the Peninsula, on the Potomac, at Vicksburg, in Kentucky, and now on the borders of Virginia again, it may reach the Old Dominion again via Richmond!
Wednesday night was spent at Strawberry Plains, where the hospitality at headquarters was really home-like. Here were seen specimens of the deserters that the Proclamation and the Federal victories are bringing into our lines. Here and all along the route the opportunities have been numerous to study the "natives." They are a peculiar race and decidedly provincial in dress, dialect, and manner.s Rich or not rich, any endeavor to live comfortably or otherwise than in a shiftless fashion, appears not to be their ambition. The country is a magnificent one, full of agricultural and mineral wealth, and abounding in water power. Another race than its present occupants, or a new inspiration animating them, will be needful to its full development. As in a vision the brighter day may be seen, and the future will prove that even the ravages of war were a blessing to Tennessee, -- destined to be a great, free, opulent State, one of the finest in the Union.
Of the military movements and preparations at this point, and all along the river, it would be improper to speak for various reasons. Besides, accurate and intelligible information is not easily obtained by a hurried observer. Still enough is readily ascertained to warrant a renewal of the exhortation to the people at home to be patient and not indulge in sanguine expectations of immediate successes. In due time the great blows will be struck -- provided the preparations are allowed to be adequate to the emergency.
On the cars into Knoxville last evening, an Ohio Colonel told a curious story. A soldier of his regiment, who in consequence of a fever had lost his voice and had not been able to speak for months, seized the colors from the hands of the fallen color bearer in the attack of Missionary Ridge, and shouted aloud "Come on boys!" From that moment he has been able to talk as usual.
Everywhere we meet Massachusetts and New England men -- officers and soldiers. And whenever they are met, one has occasion to feel proud of the East. Among them there are heard no murmurs or complaints, and not a syllable of anything but unconditional loyalty. The rank and file understand the "situation," -- know why rations are short, clothing scarce and camp equipage difficult to get. They know too that the cause is worth all sacrifice. Hence their fortitude and pluck -- their re-enlistments -- their determination to see the great fight out and ending in the triumph of the flag.
What is thus said of the East, may with equal truth be said of the West. The great, growing States are represented by thousands upon thousands of patriotic men. The army has its faults and its vices. But, with every deduction for them, with the evident necessity in some directions for better organization, discipline and drill, the army is true as steel to the republic, and tolerates no soft measures, no compromises with rebellion. The people have only to be equally "unconditional" and devoted for another year -- to give themselves in every possibly way tot he prosecution of the war, and the Conspirators' Confederacy will be annihilated. This task is to be accomplished by the people and the army -- bidding partisan politics and mere political intrigue stand aside and not meddle with a business too serious and too sacred for them to tamper with. Today, the word is "Homeward bound," thank Heaven.
From Kentucky. Louisville, 30th. An officer just from Tennessee reports that about a week since the rebels drove off eight hundred head of Government cattle within three miles of Knoxville. He says that our army has gone into winter quarters, and apprehends no attack. A reconnaissance made last Saturday and Sunday discovered that Longstreet had made a hasty retreat, and gone beyond Danbridge [Dandridge].
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