previous next
[52] 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 adicus 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 tile magnificent and costly railroad and wire suspension-bridges over the Cumberland were likewise made ready for speedy destruction — a fate which overtook then 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.1

Directly after the capture of Fort Henry, Commander Phelps, with the

1 “An impressed New-Yorker,” in his narrative of personal adventures, entitled “Thirteen months in the Rebel army,” say:

The army was not far from 60,000 strong, after Gen. George B. Crittenden's forces were added to it at Murfreesboroa. 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 Murfreesboroa but 17,000.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Albert Sidney Johnston (4)
Pollard (1)
J. W. Phelps (1)
Benjamin G. Harris (1)
George B. Crittenden (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: