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[138]

Doc. 46.-capture of Fort Donelson.


Commodore Foote's report.

U. S. Flag-ship St. Louis, near Fort Donelson, via Paducah, February 15, 1862.
To the Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
I made an attack on Fort Donelson yesterday, at three o'clock P. M., with four iron-clad gunboats and two wooden ones, and after one hour and a quarter severe fighting, the latter part of the day within less than four hundred yards of the Fort, the wheel of this vessel and the tiller of the Louisville were shot away, rendering the two boats unmanageable. They then drifted down the river. The two remaining boats were also greatly damaged between wind and water. This vessel alone received fifty-nine shots, and the others about half that number each. There were fifty-four killed and wounded in this attack, which we have reason to suppose would, in fifteen minutes more, could the action have been continued, have resulted in the capture of the Fort bearing upon us, as the enemy was running from his batteries when the two gunboats helplessly drifted down the river from disabled steering apparatus, as the relieving tackles could not steer the vessels in the strong current. The fleeing enemy returned to the river battery guns, from which they had been driven, and again hotly poured fire upon us. The enemy must have brought over twenty guns to bear upon our gunboats from the water battery and the main fort on the hill, while we could only return the fire with twelve boat-guns from the four boats. One rifled-gun aboard the Carondelet burst during the action.

The officers and men in this hotly contested but unequal fight, behaved with the greatest gallantry and determination, all deploring the accident which rendered two of our gunboats helpless in the narrow river and swift current. On consultation with General Grant and my own officers — as my services here, until we can repair damages by bringing up a competent force from Cairo to attack the Fort, are much less required than they are at Cairo — I shall proceed to that place.

I have sent the Tyler to the Tennessee River to render the railroad bridge impassable.

A. H. Foote, Flag-Officer Commanding Naval Force Western Division.


Official despatch from Commodore Foote.

Cairo, ill., February 17.
To Hon. G. Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
The Carondelet has just arrived from Fort Donelson, and, brings information of the capture of that Fort by the land forces yesterday morning, with fifteen thousand prisoners. Johnston and Buckner are taken prisoners. Loss heavy on both sides. Floyd escaped with five thousand men during the night. I go up with the gunboats, and as soon as possible will proceed up to Clarksville. Eight mortar-boats are on their way, with which I hope to attack that place. My foot is painful, but not dangerous. The army has behaved gloriously. I shall be able to take but two iron-clad gunboats with me, as the others are disabled. The trophies of war are immense, and the particulars will soon be given.

A. H. Foote, Flag-Officer.


General Grant's report.

Headquarters army in the field, Fort Donelson, February 16, 1862.
Gen. G. W. Cullom, Chief of Staff Department of Missouri:
General: I am pleased to announce to you the unconditional surrender, this morning, of Fort Donelson, with twelve to fifteen thousand prisoners, at least forty pieces of artillery, and a large amount of stores, horses, mules, and other public property.

I left Fort Henry on the twelfth inst., with a force of about fifteen thousand men, divided into two divisions, under the command of Generals McClernand and Smith. Six regiments were sent around by water, the day before, convoyed by a gunboat, or rather started one day later than one of the gunboats, with instructions not to pass it.

The troops made the march in good order, the head of the column arriving within two miles of the Fort at twelve o'clock M. At this point the enemy's pickets were met and driven in.

The fortifications of the enemy were from this point gradually approached and surrounded, with occasional skirmishing on the line. The following day, owing to the non-arrival of the gunboats and reenforcements sent by water, no attack was made; but the investment was extended on the flanks of the enemy, and drawn closer to his works, with skirmishing all day. The evening of the thirteenth, the gunboats and reenforcements arrived. On the fourteenth a gallant attack was made by Flag-Officer Foote upon the enemy's works with his fleet. The engagement lasted probably one hour and a half, and bid fair to result favorably to the cause of the Union, when two unlucky shots disabled two of the armored gunboats, so that they were carried back by the current. The remaining two were very much disabled also, having received a number of heavy shots about the pilot-house and other parts of the vessels. After these mishaps, I concluded to make the investment of Fort Donelson as perfect as possible, and partially fortify and await repairs to the gunboats. This plan was frustrated, however, by the enemy making a most vigorous attack upon our right wing, commanded by Gen. J. A. McClernand, with a portion of the force under Gen. L. Wallace. The enemy were repelled after a closely contested battle of several hours, in which our loss was heavy. The officers, and particularly field officers, suffered out of proportion. I have not the means yet of determining our loss even approximately, but it cannot fall far short of one thousand two hundred killed, wounded and missing. Of the latter, I understand through Gen. Buckner, about two hundred and fifty were taken prisoners. I shall retain enough of the enemy


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