From Knoxville, Tennessee, on Thursday, December 3, 1863 James Longstreet began moving his Confederates east and north toward Greeneville, Tennessee, effectively ending his siege against Burnside’s forces. Longstreet’s move enabled him to either take further offensive action in the West or move eastward to Virginia to reinforce Lee’s army.
Skirmishing occurred on the following day near Kingston and Loudon and on the 5th at Walker’s Ford on the Clinch River, as Longstreet retreated. On Sunday, December 6, General William Tecumseh Sherman and his staff entered Knoxville, formally ending the siege of the city and Burnside’s troops.
On the same day that Sherman triumphantly entered Knoxville, Confederate President Jefferson Davis considered sending Robert E. Lee to Dalton, Georgia to help with the restructuring of former General Braxton Bragg’s defeated and demoralized forces.