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[163] but could be reached by the enemy's artillery, from their boats or their batteries. It was but fair to infer that, while they kept up a sufficient fire upon our intrenchments to keep our men from sleep and prevent repose, their object was merely to give time to pass a column above us on the river, both on the right and the left banks, and thus to cut off all our communications, and to prevent the possibility of egress. I thus saw clearly that but one course was left by which a rational hope could be entertained of saving the garrison, or a part of it. That was to dislodge the enemy from his position on our left, and thus to pass our people into the open country, lying southward toward Nashville. I called for a consultation of the officers of divisions and brigades, to take place after dark, when this plan was laid before them, approved and adopted, and at which it was determined to move from the trenches at an early hour on the next morning, and attack the enemy in his position. It was agreed that the attack should commence upon our extreme left, and this duty was assigned Brig.-Gen. Pillow, assisted by Brig.-Gen. Johnson, having also under his command commanders of brigades, Col. Baldwin, commanding Mississippi and Tennessee troops, and Col. Wharton and Col. McCansland, commanding Virginians. To Brig.-General Buckner, was assigned the duty of making the attack from near the centre of our lines upon the enemy's forces upon the Wynn's Ferry road. The attack on the left was delayed longer than I expected, and consequently the enemy was found in position when our troops advanced. The attack, however, on our part, was extremely spirited, and although the resistance of the enemy was obstinate, and their numbers far exceeded ours, our people succeeded in driving them discomfited and terribly cut to pieces from the entire left. The Kentucky troops, under Brig.-Gen. Buckner, advanced from their position behind the intrenchments upon the Wynn's Ferry road, but not until the enemy had been driven in a great measure from the position he occupied in the morning.

I had ordered, on the night before, the two regiments stationed in Fort Donelson to occupy the trenches vacated by Brig.-Gen. Buckner's forces, which, together with the men whom he detached to assist in this purpose, I thought sufficient to hold them.

My intention was to,hold, with Brig.-General Buckner's command, the Wynn's Ferry road, and thus to prevent the enemy, during the night, from occupying the position on our left, which he occupied in the morning. I gave him orders upon the field to that effect. Leaving him in position, I started for the right of our command, to see that all was secure there — my intention being, if things could be held in the condition they then were, to move the whole army, if possible, to the open country lying southward beyond the Randolph Forges. During my absence, and from some misapprehension, I presume, of the previous order given, Brig.-Gen. Pillow ordered Brig.-Gen. Buckner to leave his position on the Wynn's Ferry road, and to resume his place in his trenches on the right. This movement was nearly executed before I was aware of it. As the enemy was pressing upon the trenches, I deemed that the execution of this last order was all that was left to be done. The enemy, in fact, succeeded in occupying an angle of the trenches on the extreme right of Brig.-Gen. Buckner's command; and as the fresh forces of the enemy had begun already to move toward our left, to occupy the position they held in the morning, and as we had no force adequate to oppose their progress, we had to submit to the mortification of seeing the ground which we had won by such a severe conflict in the morning, reoccupied by the enemy before midnight. The enemy had been landing reenforcements throughout the day. His numbers had been augmented to eighty-three regiments.

Our troops were completely exhausted by four days and nights of continued conflict. To renew it with any hope of successful result was obviously vain, and such I understood to be the unanimous opinion of all the officers present at the council called to consider what was best to be done. I thought, and so announced, that a desperate onset upon the right of the enemy's forces, on the ground where we had attacked them in the morning, might result in the extrication of a considerable proportion of the command from the position we were in, and this opinion I understood to be concurred in by all who were present. But it was likewise agreed, with the same unanimity, that it would result in the slaughter of nearly all who did not succeed in effecting their escape. The question then arose, whether in point of humanity and a sound military policy, a course should be adopted from which the probabilities were, that the larger portion of the command would be cut to pieces in an unavailing fight against overwhelming numbers. I understood the general sentiment to be averse to the proposition. I felt that in this contingency, whilst it might be questioned whether I should, as Commander of the army, lead it to certain destruction in an unavailing fight, yet I had a right individually to determine that I would not survive a surrender there. To satisfy both propositions, I agreed to hand over the command to Brig.-Gen. Buckner, through Brig.-Gen. Pillow, and to make an effort for my own extrication by any and every means that might present themselves to me.

I therefore directed Col. Forrest, a daring and determined officer, at the head of an efficient regiment of cavalry, to be present for the purpose of accompanying me in what I supposed would be an effort to pass through the enemy's lines. I announced the fact upon turning the command over to Brig.-Gen. Buckner, that I would bring away with me, by any means I could, my own particular brigade, the propriety of which was acquiesced in on all hands. This, by various modes, I succeeded in accomplishing to a great extent, and would have brought off my whole command, in one way or another, if I had had the assistance of the field officers, who were absent from several of the regiments. The command


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