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[171] man's mind — off went his hat, and with a vim that sent his hair flying around his head like a snow-bank lifted by the wind, he gave three hearty cheers for the Union--the Union in which himself, his children, and his grandchildren had been born, reared, and protected.

Eddyville is a nice little town, and probably is quite as good as that ancient scriptural city which numbered at least one righteous man among its inhabitants. It is probably some time since the high bluffs which environ it have had their echoes busy translating the patriotic airs of “Hail Columbia,” “Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Yankee Doodle,” and much good, I hope, may the exercise do those for whose benefit it was intended.

It was close upon midnight when the fleet reached the point below the Fort, where the disembarking was to take place; and then a savage wind was driving hail, sleet and snow directly in our teeth, as the work of landing the troops was commenced. A more disagreeable job never was undertaken and finished; the storm had cleared off, leaving the ground frozen hard and covered to the depth of an inch with snow.

The column which thus reached here, by way of the Cumberland, numbered not far from ten thousand men, who were conveyed in fourteen transport steamers; the column which came from Fort Henry, across the country, under Gen. Grant in person, was composed, in round numbers, of twenty thousand men, and included infantry, some fifteen or seventeen batteries of artillery, and from twelve to fifteen hundred horsemen. Before proceeding further in the history of affairs, I will write of the movements of this force.

The land forces left Fort Henry at ten o'clock Wednesday morning. The route lay along the Dover road, and as there had been no rain for the last few days, and the weather was mild and cheerful, the progress was comparatively rapid. In some four hours after starting, the head of the column had entered the ravines to the rear, and taken up a position within about two miles of Fort Donelson. This position was not taken till after frequent and short delays, the surroundings were carefully examined, and their entire freedom from masked batteries and other favorite secession man-traps fully ascertained.

The rest of the day was spent in bringing the remaining part of the forces into position, which was done by extending both up and down a line parallel with the river, and then bending in the extreme right and left, thus enclosing the Fort in a semi-circular line, and completely surrounding it. This was not done without much trouble. The enemy's pickets and sharpshooters seemed endless in number, and had to be driven from every ravine and hill-top, at an expense of much blood-letting. No very serious damage resulted, however, to our forces, and by night they had driven the rebels completely within the line of their fortifications, and had sharpened their appetites for a more serious brush on the day following.

Thursday morning dawned beautifully, and seemed to smile upon the efforts of the National troops. The men cheerfully accepted the omen, and determined to make the most of the weather and their rifles during the day — a determination which was fully carried out ere night, and which gave many a poor fellow a leaden passport for ferriage over the dark river.

Among the operations projected, was one to force a reconnoissance close up to the Fort, and thus early settle the character of the neighboring ground with a view to the more important operations of the future. The ground around the Fort is a rolling upland, covered with heavy timber and dense undergrowth, and broken for miles around into ravines, bordered by precipitous bluffs, whose sides, steep and rocky, almost forbid the passage of even a goat. The Fort itself is situated upon a high bluff, which slants with an easy descent to a point at the water's edge on the north, and is probably not less than one hundred feet above the level of the water. To the rear the bluff has been to some extent levelled for the distance of a mile. On this artificial table-land stands the Fort, whose lines of fortifications and rifle-pits cover the entire levelled space. Bordering this fortified portion is a ravine of no great depth, across which, and forming its outer boundary, is a timbered ridge, or rather a series of ridges, for it is divided at intervals by ravines which flow in all directions like streams emptying into a river.

Moving toward this ridge about ten A. M. Thursday, was a body of National troops, composed in all of about five regiments of infantry and some three or four batteries of artillery. The National troops were met, at a distance of a thousand yards or so, by a heavy force of the enemy, and a sharp engagement ensued, which, however, was confined mainly to artillery practice and “bushwhacking?” on both sides.: The enemy gradually gave ground, and in an hour had. taken refuge within their works, and our troops were in possession of the series of hills which lies adjacent to the ravine next to the outer line of fortifications. The distance from these ridges to the nearest defences of the rebels was not more than three hundred yards, and being covered with timber, while they are slightly higher than the works, they afforded a capital position for our sharpshooters, of which they were not slow to avail themselves.

Among the rest who disposed themselves along these ridges were Birge's celebrated regiment of riflemen, and from that time forward, a secession head above the parapet, for ever so brief a period, was sure to go down with a hole bored through it about the size of one that might be made with a three-quarter auger. This regiment did most effectual service. Each member is dressed in gray, with a gray felt cap, whose top is rigged “fore-and-aft” with squirrel — tails dyed black. Their weapon is a heavy rifle, carrying a conical ball, with an effective range of about one thousand yards. On this occasion, as indeed upon every other since, they fought pretty much in the places and after the manner that happened best to suit individual fancies. Lying flat behind a stump, one would watch with finger on trigger for rebel game with all the excitement of a hunter waylaying deer at


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