James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
to hold Chattanooga at all hazards. Thomas replied promptly, We will hold the town till we starve. The force of this despatch, implying the straits in which the garrison lay, is illustrated by Wilsons and Danas experience who, after a ride of fifty-five miles, reached Chattanooga shortly before midnight. They obtained at the headquarters of Captain Horace Porter a supper of his bestone square of fried hard-tack with a small piece of salt pork and a cup of army coffee without milk or sugar. As it was, they fared better than their horses, who were each given two ears of corn but no hay.1
Rosecrans undoubtedly had in mind some plan for securing a better line of supply, but he lacked the energy and resolution to carry it into effect. Grants wisdom in placing Thomas in command was immediately manifest. The change at headquarters here is already strikingly perceptible, wrote Dana from Chattanooga, October 23. Order prevails instead of universal chaos. William F. Smith, the Chief Engineer of the Army, had matured a plan for opening a short route of supplies from Bridgeport, which he now submitted to Thomas, who approved it and gave the necessary instructions for its execution.
Grant now repaired in person to the scene of action. Having proceeded as rapidly as possible by rail from Louisville to Bridgeport, he must thence ride fifty-five miles over the road which served as the main line of supply for the army. A number of weeks before, on a visit to New Orleans, he had had a fall from a runaway horse, receiving severe injuries which still kept him on crutches. Through a chilling rain-storm, he now rode with difficulty over the rough way where, owing to the heavy rains and the washouts from the mountains, the mud was often knee-deep;
Note 1. Wilsons Dana, 279; Under the Old Flag, I, 270. [back]