my obligations to Major Gilmer, engineer, for the especial and valuable services rendered me in laying off the works, and the energy displayed by him in superintending their construction, and for his counsel and advice. I likewise acknowledge my obligations to Col. John C. Burch, my aid-de-camp, to Capt. Gus. A. Henry, Major Field, Lieut. Nicholson, Lieut. Chas. F. Martin, and Col. Brandon, my volunteer aid-de-camp; to Major Hays, my Assistant Commissary; Major Jones, my Assistant Quartermaster, for the prompt manner in which they executed my orders under trying circumstances throughout the long and continued conflicts; and to Major Gilmer, who accompanied me throughout the entire day. Also, to Capt. Parker of my staff, whom I assigned to the command of Capt. Ross's field-battery, with new recruits as gunners, and who fought and served them well. Col. Brandon was severely wounded early in the action. Col. Baldwin's command constituted the front of the attacking force, sustained immediately by Col. Wharton. These two brigades deserve especial commendation for the manner in which they sustained the first shock of battle, and under circumstances of great embarrassment threw themselves into position and followed up the conflict throughout the day. Being mostly with the two brigades, I can speak from personal knowledge of their gallant bearing. I must also acknowledge my obligations to Brig.-Gen. Johnson, who assisted me in command of the forces with which I attacked the enemy, and who bore himself gallantly throughout the conflict, but having received no official reports from him, I cannot give detailed operations of his command. I have pleasure in being able to say that Col. Forrest passed safely through the enemy's line of investment, and trust it will yet win other honors in defence of our rights and the just cause of our country.
New-York times account,
in camp near Port Donelson, Saturday, Feb. 15, 1862.It was determined by Gen. Grant to make the attack upon Fort Donelson from two directions — by land from the direction of Fort Henry, and by water up the Cumberland, assisted by an adequate column of troops on the banks. Tuesday night, the Fifty-seventh Illinois, Col. Baldwin, arrived at Fort Henry, on the steamer Minnehaha. Gen. Grant directed Col. Baldwin to return immediately down the river, stop all transports with troops, proceed down the Tennessee and up the Cumberland, keeping in the rear of gunboats, which would be found ready to start at Paducah on his arrival. The order also added that he should reach the vicinity of Fort Donelson Wednesday afternoon, disembark his troops, and be ready, in conjunction with the column from Fort Henry and the gunboats, to make an attack upon Fort Donelson Thursday morning. The plan seemed easy of accomplishment, so far as keeping “on time” is concerned, but in this respect quite a failure ensued. Cooks were immediately set at work to provide the three days rations ordered, and this took until midnight to accomplish. The Minnehaha then started out and reached Paducah about daylight, stopping and turning back on the way some eight or ten transports, loaded with troops. Upon reaching Paducah, we found that only a portion of the gunboat fleet had arrived, and this necessitated another delay. Toward night, however, the stragglers came slowly creeping up the river, and soon after the whole fleet started, and by ten o'clock we had reached Smithland, at the mouth of the Cumberland River. The scene here was magnificent beyond description — the night was as warm as an evening in August in our more northern latitudes, a full moon looked down from an unclouded sky, and glanced off from bayonets, plumes, and sword-hilts without number. At intervals long jets of fleecy smoke burst out along the parapets of the two forts on the height overlooking the town, and the boom of the welcome went reverberating over the hills, till from the long distances in Kentucky it came back like a whisper. In turn the bands on the boats charmed the ear with most eloquent music, which, added to the effect of scores of gaily dressed ladies promenading the upper decks, gave the scene more the character of some vast drawing-room gathering — so much like was it, that no one would have been surprised had the whole crowd suddenly resolved into eddies of whirling waltzes or the swift changeful currents of quadrille or gallopade. It was midnight before the fleet again got under way, and from that time our progress against the rapid sweep of the Cumberland was of the slowest possible description. On the morning of Thursday, by about nine o'clock, we made Eddyville — a small town on the east bank of the river, and distant only about forty-five miles from Smithland. If one may judge from the demonstrations of those who stood on the shore watching our passage, a more loyal town than Eddyville exists nowhere beneath the sun. The women waved handkerchiefs of all colors, or in lieu of that an apron or bonnet; the men swung their hats and vociferated alternately “Hurrah for the Union!” and “Hurrah for Lincoln!” until hoarse beyond utterance; even the dogs of Eddyville were loyal, and barked and wagged their tails in patriotic joy at the national inundation. There was only one case, however, that bore the marks of sincerity. An old man, whose head was white as a snow-drift, stood on the shore leaning heavily on his cane and watching with seeming apathy the passage of the boats, whose full appearance his faded eyes probably failed to catch. Just as the Minnehaha passed opposite him the magnificent band of the Fifty-seventh struck up “Yankee Doodle.” Its strains seemed to awaken stirring memories in the old