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[230]

Chapter 9: events at Nashville, Columbus, New Madrid, Island number10, and Pea Ridge.


When Fort Donelson fell, Kentucky and Missouri, and all of northern and middle Tennessee were lost to the Confederates, and the more Southern States, whose inhabitants expected to have the battles for their defense fought in the border Slave-labor States, were exposed to the inroads of the National armies.

The terror inspired all along the Confederate line by the fall of Fort Henry, and the forward movement of General Mitchel, of Buell's army, from his camp at Bacon's Creek, across the Green River at Mumfordsville, toward Bowling Green, simultaneously with Grant's investment of Fort Donelson,

Feb. 11, 1862.
caused that line, which seemed so strong almost to invincibility a few weeks before, to crumble into fragments and suddenly disappear as a mist. General Johnston clearly perceived that both Bowling Green and Columbus were now untenable, and that the salvation of his troops at each required the immediate evacuation of these posts. He issued orders accordingly, and when Mitchel, having marched forty-two miles in thirty-two hours, reached the northern bank of the Barren River, on whose southern border Bowling Green1 stood, the main body of Johnston's troops, seven or eight thousand strong, had left it and fled south-ward. Mitchel found the bridges on that stream all destroyed; and when, on the same night, Colonel Turchin crossed it below the village, with his brigade, the heavens were

Bowling Green after the evacuation.

illuminated by the flames of the burning railway station-house, and Confederate stores in the [231] center of the town. These had been fired by Texas Rangers, left behind for the purpose, and who were then just moving off on a railway train. Mitchel's troops were exhausted by their forced march in the keen frosty air, and the labor of removing trees from the roads which the Confederates had cut down; and the water in the stream being too high to ford, his army did not cross until the next day, when they found Bowling Green to be almost barren of spoils. Half a million dollars' worth of property had been destroyed, and only a brass 6-pounder, and commissary stores valued at five thousand dollars, remained. The Confederates had also removed, during the preceding four days, a large quantity of provisions and stores to Nashville.

Imminent danger now impended over Nashville. Johnston, as we have seen, had declared that he fought for that city at Fort Donelson. When the latter fell, Nashville was doomed, and its disloyal inhabitants were pale with terror.

On the day of the surrender, the intelligence of the sad event reached the city just as the people were comfortably seated in the churches, for it was the Christian Sabbath. Pillow's foolish boast2 and dispatch founded upon it3 had allayed all fears; now these were awakened with ten-fold intensity. The churches were instantly emptied, and each citizen seemed to have no other thought but for personal safety.4 That the town would be speedily occupied by the Government troops, no one doubted. Grant's vigor had been tested. It had been observed that he did not stop when a victory, was gained, but pushed forward to reap in full all of its advantages. So they gave up all as lost. The public stores were thrown wide open, and everybody was allowed to carry off provisions and clothing without hindrance.

The panic among the Secessionists was fearful. Governor Harris, the worst criminal of them all, was crazy with alarm. He rode through the streets with his horse at full speed, crying out that the papers in the capital must be removed.5 He well knew what evidence of his treason was among them. He and his guilty legislature gathered as many of the archives as possible, and fled by railway to Memphis,6 while the officers of banks, bearing [

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Arkansas (Arkansas, United States) (19)
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