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g close together into the Ohio near its mouth. The history of the attempt to defend these Rivers by forts at Donelson and Henry will be given in detail hereafter. General Grant had possession of Smithland and Paducah, at their mouths. Indeed, the outlets and navigable waters of all the Rivers of Kentucky, the Sandy, Licking, Kentucky, and Green, were in the hands of the Federals, and gave them the great military advantage of easy communication with their base by water-ways. Green and Barren Rivers, locked and dammed, cut the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, so as to render any point in advance of Bowling Green unsafe; while Bowling Green itself, situated on the turnpike, Railroad, and River, was a good position for defense. Thus, as Columbus and the Cumberland Mountains had become the extremities of the Confederate line by force of natural conditions, so Bowling Green, likewise, became its salient. The communications to the rear of this point by railroads and by a macadamized tu
ically push toward Nashville the heavy masses of troops now assembled between Louisville and this place. The general position of Bowling Green is good and commanding; but the peculiar topography of the place, and the length of the line of the Barren River as a line of defense, though strong, require a large force to defend it. There is no equally defensible position as this place, nor line of defense as the Barren River, between the Barren and the Cumberland at Nashville; so that this place canBarren River, between the Barren and the Cumberland at Nashville; so that this place cannot be abandoned without exposing Tennessee, and giving vastly the vantage-ground to the enemy. It is manifest that the Northern generals appreciate this; and, by withdrawing their forces from Western Virginia and East Kentucky, they have managed to add them to the new levies from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and to concentrate a force in front of me variously estimated at from 60,000 to 100,000 men, and which, I believe, will number 75,000. To maintain my position, I have only about 17,000 me
n unusually fine, resembling the fall rather than winter, rendered it probable that a battle would be fought in this vicinity. Information from various sources shows that every effort has been made by General Buell to concentrate all his strength for a movement upon Tennessee through Central Kentucky, and that not less than 75,000 men are assembled in front of me, while I have not more than 17,000 men for active operations. After a careful examination, I have found the line of the Barren River the only good defensible one between Green River and Nashville. Bowling Green, from its topography, is naturally a strong position, and gives command over Central Kentucky, south of Green River, and has easy communication by railroad and turnpike to Nashville. Its local advantages for defense are good, though requiring a large force for that purpose, as it is situated in an amphitheatre of some extent. The place has been strengthened by good defensive works, requiring about 4,000 men f
ar their dividing line, turns to the north as it approaches the Tennessee, to which it runs parallel to its mouth. At the great bend, on very good ground, Fort Donelson was established; so that the two forts helped mutually to determine their relative locations. The governing considerations were evidently political rather than strategic, and depended more upon geography than topography. Nevertheless, even from a strategic point of view, they were exceedingly well situated. Whether the Barren River, and a line from Bowling Green to Columbus, should be adopted for defense, or that of the Cumberland and thence west to the Mississippi, these points were equally commanding. They were also near to and in front of the railroads from Bowling Green and Nashville, running west. The topography of the two forts was not so good, though not justly amenable to the censure that the defeated generals visited upon it after its surrender. Floyd, in his reports, said of Fort Donelson: It w
nse to hold at bay the heavy odds in his front until reinforced. If anything is evinced in this biography, it is that General Johnston possessed that admirable equilibrium of judgment-boldness combined with caution — which fitted him to hold a desperate position to the last extremity, and yet to apprehend distinctly when it could be defended no longer, and retire from it in time. Early in the autumn, the difficulties of recruiting becoming apparent, made it plain that the line of the Barren River might have to be given up, and General Johnston endeavored to provide a second line of defense on the Cumberland — with how little effect has already been seen. On this second line, if forced to retreat, he purposed to make his stand as long as possible. But when he compared the unequal preparations for aggression and resistance, and perceived that no warning could stir the Southern people to a just sense of their danger, he beheld calamity coming as the clouds gather for the burst of t
a gallant band of Texans, Wharton, Ashbel Smith, and others; with a multitude besides, known to him personally or by reputation and name as the inheritors of martial virtues. But why multiply names? Regulars were there, who had wintered with him in Utah; Texans who had known him on the border, as patriot leader, statesman, citizen, soldier; the men of Monterey and the Mexican War, and the brave soldiers who had welcomed him with shouts at Columbus, or helped him to guard the line of the Barren River all winter. He regarded all these not as strangers, not as factors to be canceled in the deadly problem of successful combat, but as of his own belonging-his kith and kin by ties almost as strong as those of blood. He looked upon them with the tenderness of a patriarchal regard — of an Abraham or a Jephthah. In the dread holocaust of war, in which perish the bravest and best, he was ready to make his offering, as a sacrifice for his people and for constitutional liberty. In this spir