The Associated Press reported 150 years ago this week in the Civil War that Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was in retreat after abandoning his siege of Knoxville, Tenn. The dispatch dated Dec. 8, 1863, said Longstreet appeared to withdrawing through a mountain gap either toward Virginia or North Carolina with "Federal cavalry pursuing."
The dispatch added; "he will scarcely be able to make good his escape without material loss, though he has thirty-six hours the start." With Ulysses Grant now firmly in control of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Longstreet unable to capture Knoxville, the Confederates are reeling from the blow. AP reported that a key for the Union was the arrival of William T. Sherman's cavalry at Knoxville in early December to reinforce the existing federal forces.
Meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln issued a statement that the Confederate retreat from East Tennessee renders it "probably that the Union forces cannot thereafter be dislodged from that important post, and esteeming this to be of high national consequence. I recommend that all loyal people, do, on the receipt of this information assemble at their places of worship, and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause (Signed) A. Lincoln."
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