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[35] copy of which I send to you. I determined to fight for Nashville at Donelson, and gave the best part of my army to do it, retaining only fourteen thousand men to cover my front, and giving sixteen thousand to defend Donelson. The force at Donelson is stated in General Pillow's report at much less, and I do not doubt the correctness of his statement, for the force at Bowling Green, which I supposed to be fourteen thousand effective men (the medical report showing only a little over five hundred sick in the hospital), was diminished more than five thousand by those who were unable to stand the fatigue of a march, and made my force on reaching Nashville less than ten thousand men. I inclose medical director's report. Had I wholly uncovered my front to defend Donelson, Buell would have known it, and marched directly on Nashville. There were only ten small steamers in the Cumberland, in imperfect condition, only three of which were available at Nashville, while the tranportation of the enemy was great.

The evacuation of Bowling Green was imperatively necessary, and was ordered before, and executed while the battle was being fought at Donelson. I had made every disposition for the defense of the fort my means allowed, and the troops were among the best of my forces. The generals, Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner, were high in the opinion of officers and men for skill and courage, and among the best officers of my command. They were popular with the volunteers, and all had seen much service. No reenforcements were asked. I awaited the event opposite Nashville. The result of the conflict each day was favorable. At midnight on the 15th I received news of a glorious victory; at dawn, of a defeat.

My column during the day and night was thrown over the river—a battery had been established below the city to secure the passage. Nashville was incapable of defense, from its position, and from the forces advancing from Bowling Green and up the Cumberland. A rear guard was left, under General Floyd, to secure the stores and provisions, but did not completely effect the object. The people were terrified, and some of the troops were disheartened. The discouragement was spreading, and I ordered the command to Murfreesboro, where I managed, by assembling Crittenden's division and the fugitives from Donelson, to collect an army able to offer battle. The weather was inclement, the floods excessive, and the bridges were washed away, but most of the stores and provisions were saved and conveyed to new depots. This having been accomplished, though with serious loss, in conformity with my original design, I marched southward and crossed the Tennessee at this point, so as to cooperate or unite with General Beauregard for the defense of the valley of the Mississippi. The passage is almost completed, and the head of my column is already with General Bragg at Corinth. The movement was deemed too hazardous by the most experienced members of my staff, but the object warranted the risk. The difficulty of effecting a junction is not wholly overcome, but it approaches completion. Day after to-morrow (the 22d), unless the enemy intercepts me, my force will be with Bragg, and my army nearly fifty thousand strong. This must be destroyed before the enemy can attain his object.

I have given this sketch, so that you may appreciate the embarrassment which surrounded me in my attempts to avert or remedy the disaster of Fort Donelson, before alluding to the conduct of the generals.

When the force was detached, I was in hopes that such disposition would have

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Floyd (2)
Braxton Bragg (2)
Pillow (1)
Donelson (1)
George B. Crittenden (1)
D. C. Buell (1)
S. B. Buckner (1)
P. G. T. Beauregard (1)
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