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On. xvu. ing daily incident, were marked by no very im
portant event. Mention, however, needs to be here made of a change in the control of the Union fleet. Flag-oflicer Foote had been wounded in the ankle during his attack on Fort Donelson, and his injury now caused him so much suffering and exhaustion of strength that he was compelled to relinquish his command. He took leave of his flotilla on the 9th of May, and was succeeded by Captain Charles H. Davis, who from that time onward had charge of the gunboat operations on the upper Mississippi.
THE SHILOH CAMPAIGN
HE fall of Fort Donelson hastened, almost to CE xvm
a panic, the retreat of the Confederates from other points. By that surrender about one-third of their fighting force in Tennessee vanished from the campaign, while their whole web of strategy was instantly dissolved. The full possession of the Tennessee River by the Union gunboats for the moment hopelessly divided the Confederate commands, and like a flushed covey of birds the rebel generals started on their several lines of retreat without concert or rallying point. Albert Sidney Johnston, the department commander, moved southeast towards Chattanooga, abandoning Nashville to its fate; while Beauregard, left to his own discretion and resources, took measures to effect the evacuation of Columbus so as to save its armament and supplies, and then proceeded to the railroad crossings of Northern Mississippi to collect and organize a new army.
It is now evident that if the Union forces could have been promptly moved forward in harmonious combination, with the facility which the opening of the Tennessee River afiorded them, such an
advance might have been made, and such stra
On. xvrn. tegic points gained and held, as would have saved at least an entire year of campaign and battle in the West. Unfortunately this great advantage was not seized, and in the condition of aifairs could not be; and a delay of a fortnight or more enabled the insurgents to renew the confidence and gather the forces to establish another line farther to the south, and again to interpose a formidable resistance. One cause of this inefficiency and delay of the Union commanders may be easily gleaned from the dispatches interchanged by them within a few days succeeding the fall of Fort Donelson, and which, aside from their military bearings, form an interesting study of human nature.
General Buell, from his headquarters at Louisville, wrote (February 17, 1862) that since the reenforcements (Nelson’s division) started by him to assist at Fort Donelson were no longer needed, he had ordered them back. “The object of both our forces,” he continued, “is, directly or indirectly, to strike at the power of the rebellion in its most vital point within our field. Nashville appears clearly, I think, to be that point.” He thought further that heavy reénforcements would soon be thrown into it by the rebels. The leisurely manner in which he expected to strike at this heart of the rebellion appears from these words in the same letter: “ To depend on wagons at this season for a large force seems out of the question, and I fear it may be two weeks before I can get a bridge over the Barren River, so as to use the railroad beyond.
323%,‘; I shall endeavor, however, to make an advance in mF;_“"w3_"’B_ less or much force before that time. . . Let me