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or two miles. Skirmishing by sharpshooters on both sides was maintained with spirit throughout the day, mainly from behind the trees of the great forest, which at most points covered our army and the space between the hostile lines. The weather was thus far like a clear, bright, Northern October, and our men in the highest spirits.
Com. Foote now arrived “ with his gunboats—four iron-clad, and two wooden—and it was determined that he should attempt to silence and carry the water batteries. He did so at 3 P. M. next day, steadily advancing with his iron-clads to within 400 yards of the Rebels’ great guns; when, by an hour's desperate fighting, he had driven most of the enemy's gunners from their batteries, and seemed on the point of complete success. Just here, however, the wheel of his flag-ship St. Louis and the tiller of its consort, the Louisville, were shot away, rendering both boats unmanageable, and causing them to drift helplessly down the river. All his iron-clads had endured serious damage: the St. Louis having received 59 shots, and each of the others about half so many, with an aggregate loss of 54 killed and wounded. Of his twelve guns, one had burst, while the enemy had brought over 20–most of them very heavy—to bear upon him from Donelson, as well as the water batteries, to which the gunners returned on observing his predicament, and again poured in their hottest fire. Com. Foote, perceiving victory hopeless, gave up the contest, and retired with his boats down the river, badly crippled.
Gen. Grant decided to complete the investment of the fort, at least on that side, while he fortified his weak points, and awaited the return of the gunboats in fighting condition. Floyd, however, not concurring in that view of the matter, decided to assume at once a vigorous offensive, while his men were elated with their defeat of the gunboats. Massing “ heavily on his extreme left, commanded by Pillow, and ordering Buckner,” in the center, to attack likewise, he made a desperate effort to beat back our investing and augmenting forces, and open for his army a line of retreat up river toward Nashville. The attack of Pillow on our right, held by Gen. McClernand, was impetuous, daring, and persistent. After two hours' desperate fighting, McClernand was worsted and fell back on our center, sending urgently for réenforcements, but still contesting every inch of ground. Two or three of his regiments were badly broken, and several more reported out of ammunition ; which should not have been, since it was not yet noon. Our men, however, had the bad habit generally of using ammunition wastefully, loading and firing as fast as possible, even when there was not one chance in a thousand of hitting an enemy. The Rebels usually economized their cartridges, firing only when they could do so with effect.
Pillow, still successful and slowly advancing, about noon joined hands with Buckner in the center, and took command of their united forces, when a charge was made by Forrest's cavalry on our infantry supporting a
* Evening of the 13th. * At daylight on the morning of the 15th.
* Gen. Simon B. Buckner, of Kentucky; formerly commander of her State Guard.
battery of six pieces, which was taken.” Gen. Grant—not expecting this striking proof of Rebel vitality—was some miles distant on a gunboat, conferring with Com. Foote, when McClernand's cry for assistance reached headquarters. Gen. Lew. Wallace, commanding our center, ordered Col. Cruft, with his first brigade, to the rescue. Cruft, misdirected by his guide, took a wrong road; but it led him nevertheless into the fight, and served to draw off some Rebel attention from McClernand's overmatched column. Meantime, Col. Thayer,” commanding his 3d brigade, was ordered by Wallace to the further support of McClernand; and his fresh troops, admirably handled, uniting with Cruft's, succeeded in stopping and turning back the Rebel advance. Gen. Grant reached the scene of conflict about 3 P. M., and, after a survey of the ground, ordered a general advance; Gen. Lew. Wallace leading the attack on the enemy's left, while Gen. C. F. Smith, on our left, should charge his right. This combined effort proved entirely successful. Wallace recovered all the ground lost during the day, resting at 5 P. M. within 150 yards of the intrenchments whence Buckner had sallied, only to return baffled at night; while Gen. Smith's charge on our left, magnificently led by him against breastworks whereof the defense had doubtless been weakened to strengthen Pillow’s effort, succeeded with little loss. The 2d Iowa
went into them on a run, closely followed by the 7th and 14th, with the 25th Indiana, cutting down or chasing off their defenders; and the position thus gained was soon made secure against any effort to retake it. So closed the work of that bloody day. Singe the siege began, the weather had stiddenly changed to cold, with a light snow, followed by a piercing N.W. wind, rendering the sufferings on either side fearful and almost universal. Our men were without tents, and at many points without fires; while the Rebels, worse clad and little better sheltered, shivered in their fireless trenches through weary day and sleepless night. Hundreds on either side were frost-bitten ; and it is said that quite a number of the wounded, left uneared for by the shifting tide of battle, were actually frozen to death. The night following the conflict just described was one of anxiety and trouble on the part of the Rebels. Gen. Grant's force had been increased by the arrival of transport after transport, until it must have amounted to 30,000, if not nearer 40,000 men, and was magnified by their apprehensions to 50,000.” The effort to cut their way out through our right had been gallantly made, and had signally failed. Their outnumbered, roughly handled force, had endured 84 hours of alternate fighting and watching, while suffering all the hardships of a Winter campaign, and were so outworn as to
*Col. Hanson, 2d Kentucky, and Col. Cook, 32d Tennessee, as well as Maj. Brown, 20th Mississippi, officially report that, after Buckner's defeat of McClernand, on the morning of the 15th, there was no obstacle to the escape of their entire force southward or up the Cumbervol. II.-4
land. Col. Hanson says the way of escape re-
fall asleep standing in line of battle, when actually under fire. The position gained by Smith would enable him to take other of their intrenchments in reverse, or to advance under cover of a ridge directly upon their most important battery and fieldwork. Buckner declared that his post would certainly be attacked in the morning, and that he could not hold it half an hour; he thought they might yet fight their way out, with a loss of three-fourths of their number, but did not deem it right to sacrifice so large a proportion. These representations being undisputed, a surrender became inevitable. Yet Floyd, the sunset of whose career as Secretary of War had not appeared brilliant at the North, at once protested that he would never surrender. Buckner—who, for obvious reasons, was scarcely more popular with Kentucky Unionists than was Floyd with those of the Free States—presented no such obstacle. Floyd, therefore, turned the command over to Pillow, who passed it to Buckner, whose late superiors now devoted their attention to the means of escape. Two Rebel steamboats having arrived a little before daylight from above, Floyd filled them with his soldiers, especially those of his own brigade, and, a little before sunrise, cast off and steamed up the river, leaving the residue to their fate.” Col. Forrest, with some 800 cavalry, escaped by the road up the immediate bank of the river, which was partly overflowed, and therefore deemed impracticable for infantry, but which Forrest's troopers appear to have traversed without difficulty or loss.
During the night, a negro had escaped from the Rebel lines, and given our leaders their first clear information of the straits of the enemy. Gen. Grant was therefore not surprised at receiving, about daylight, the following overture:
“IIEADQUARTERs Fort DoNELsoN, “Feb. 16, 1862. “SIR: In consideration of all the circumstances governing the present situation of affairs at this station, I propose to the commanding officer of the Federal forces the appointment of commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation of the forces at this post under my command. In that view, I suggest an armistice until 12 o'clock to-day. “I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, S. B. BUCKNER, “Brig.-Gen. C. S. Army. “To Brig.-Gen. U. S. GRANT, commanding U. S. forces near Fort Donelson.”
The reply was hardly so diplomatic, but quite lucid—as follows:
“HEADQUARTERs on THE FIELD, “Fort DoNELsoN, Feb. 16, 1862. “To Gen. S. B. BUCKNER: “SIR: Yours of this date, proposing an armistice and the appointment of commissioners to settle on the terms of capitulation, is just received. “No terms, except unconditional and immediate surrender, can be accepted. “I propose to move immediately on your works. “I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, U. S. GRANT, “Brig.-General Commanding.”
Gen. Buckner's response closed the correspondence thus:
“IIEADQUARTERs Dov ER (TENN.), “Feb. 16, 1862. “Brig.-Gen. U. S. GRANT, U. S. Army: “SIR: The distribution of the forces under my command incident to an unexpected change of commanders, and the overwhelming force under your command, compel me, notwithstanding the brilliant success of the Confederate arms, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose. “I am, sir, your servant, “S. B. BuckNER, “Brig.-General C. S. Army.”
* Maj. W. M. Brown, 20th Miss., in his official report, says one of the boats did not appear to have over 50 men on board, and that Floyd took
away about 1,500; but this is probably an under-estimate. As all would naturally wish to go, it is probable that all went who could.
The Rebel loss by this conflict and capitulation must have been fully 10,000 men, including 2,000 killed and wounded,” to say nothing of arms and munitions. Our loss in killed and wounded was probably the larger.”
The blow so well struck at Donelson was swiftly followed by important successes throughout Kentucky and in Tennessee. Gen. Don Carlos Buell had, at the then recent partition of departments, been assigned” to that of the Ohio, including, besides three Free States, Tennessee, and all of Kentucky east of the Cumberland, with his headquarters at Louisville; where he still remained when his advance, consisting of some 16,000 men, led by Gen. O. M. Mitchel, moved,” simultaneously with Gen. Grant's demonstration on Donelson, upon Bowling Green, the Rebel stronghold in Kentucky, where Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston had succeeded to the command, while Gen. Beauregard had been sent him from the east as a reenforcement. But Johnston's force, enormously and purposely magnified * Gen. Pillow, in his supplemental report, says: “We sent up from Dover, 1,134 wounded. A Federal surgeon's certificate, which I have seen, says that there were about 400 Confederate prisoners wounded in hospital at Paducah, making
1,534 wounded. I was satisfied the killed would increase the number to 2,000.”
Pollard gives what he terms a correct list, by regiments, of the Confederate prisoners taken at Fort Donelson, footing up 5,079; but he evidently does not include in this total the wounded., of whom many must have been left on the field or in the hospital at the fort, as he says: “The village of Dover, which was within our lines, contained in every room in every house sick, wounded, or dead men. Bloody rags were everywhere, and a door could not be opened without hearing groans.” And in his list of regi
B O W L IN G. G. R. E. E. N. 51
by currentreport, had neveramounted
* Gen. Grant, speaking of the battle of the
* Nov. 9, 1861. *Feb. 11, 1862. “Feb. 1).
computed that the Rebels had been compelled to destroy not less than half a million dollars’ worth of munitions, including many arms. Large quantities of provisions and other stores, industriously collected throughout the preceding Fall and Winter, had been removed to Nashville during the last three or four days. Nashville had been electrified, during the 15th (Saturday), with a telegraphic dispatch from Dover, announcing a Rebel victory; somewhat tempered by reports from Bowling Green that Johnston would be obliged to evacuate that post. Next morning, however, came news of the capture of Donelson, with most of its defenders; and along with it a first installment of Johnston’s army retreating from dismantled Bowling Green. The general astonishment was only equaled by the general consternation. Churches were closed, or failed to open; there were hurried consultations and whispered adieus in every quarter, whence bank directors rushed to impel specie and other valuables toward the cars, soon to bear them to Chattanooga, to Columbia, and other points of comparative safety. Gov. Harris and
his Legislature, with the State archives and treasure, betook themselves swiftly to Memphis; while Confederate officers devoted their attention to moving as rapidly as possible, the vast stores of provisions and munitions here accumulated. Two fine gunboats, being built at the river-side, were prepared for instant conflagration; and the magnificent and costly railroad and wire suspension-bridges over the Cumberland were likewise made ready for speedy destruction—a fate which overtook them two or three days later. A fortification had in the mean time been commenced on the Cumberland, four miles below the city, calculated to dispute and prevent the passage of our gunboats; but this was soon abandoned upon information that Gen. Johnston had decided not to fight for Nashville, but to continue his retreat; which he did, unassailed, to Corinth, Miss., south of the Tennessee river, and nearly 300 miles from Bowling Green. Six weeks were consumed in that retreat; which, with a green and undisciplined army, was probably quite as disastrous as a battle.” Directly after the capture of Fort
Henry, Commander Phelps, with the
* “An Impressed New-Yorker,” in his narra
tive of personal adventures, entitled “Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army,” says:
“The army was not far from 60,000 strong, after Gen. George B. Crittenden's forces were added to it at Murfreesboro’. The season of the year was the worst possible in that latitude. Rain fell—sometimes sleet—four days out of the seven. The roads were bad enough at best; but, under such a tramping of horses and cutting of wheels as the march produced, soon became horrible. About 100 regiments were numbered in the army. The full complement of wagons to each regiment (24), would give above 2,000 wagons. Imagine such a train of heavily loaded wagons passing along a single mud road, accompanied by 55,000 infantry and
5,000 horsemen, in the midst of rain and sleet, day after day, camping at night in wet fields, or dripping woods, without sufficient food adapted to their wants, and often without any tents; the men lying down in their wet clothes, and rising chilled through and through. And let this continue for six weeks of incessant retreat, and you get a feeble glimpse of what we endured. The army suffered great loss from sickness, and some from desertion; some regiments leaving Bowling Green with six or seven hundred men, and reaching Corinth with but half of this number. The towns through which we passed were left full of sick men; and many were sent off to hospitals at some distance from our route.”
Pollard makes Johnston's army at Murfreesboro’ but 17,000.