Longstreet’s reduced corps (including Humphreys’ Mississippi Brigade) left its winter quarters in the vicinity of Russellville, Tennessee, “in the last of March ,” according to independent historian H. Grady Howell Jr.
They moved northeast to Bristol, on the Tennessee-Virginia state line, preparatory to a return to the Army of Northern Virginia.
The journey to Bristol, which commenced on March 28, was an exhausting mud march.
“[R]ivers of mud seemed to be the standard thoroughfare in Tennessee that winter,” historian Robert K. Krick wrote in his 1975 book Parker’s Virginia Battery, C.S.A. “The recent deep snow had made the roads all but unusable. Horses fell dead in the traces and cannoneers were repeatedly called on to push the guns by hand. Parts of the march were made under wretched weather conditions. A cold rain turned to driving sleet and eventually to a brisk snowfall which was remarkable for its ‘unusually large flakes.’”
Longstreet’s troops camped near Jonesboro on the first night and the next night near a ford of the Watauga River and thence to the railroad bridge over the Holston River near Middletown.
Portions of the command began marching into Bristol on March 31. They passed through the town and after seven unhappy and disastrous months in Georgia and Tennessee they were, once more, back in Virginia.