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[218] Polk, at Columbus, which were themselves threatened by greatly superior numbers assembling in southeast Missouri. He further said that, at present, the main object should be to gain time to remove the supplies of ammunition and provisions collected at Bowling Green, and the still larger supplies of pork, grain, and clothing accumulated at Clarksville and Nashville, contrary to his advice, by the Commissary and Quartermaster Departments at Richmond.

In answer, General Beauregard remarked, that even if these depots were to be endangered, it was more important to defeat the enemy than to protect the supplies; that Buell, being without a pontoon train, and unable to cross the Cumberland between Nashville and Donelson, we could have time to escape from between the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, and establish ourselves behind the new defensive line of Duck River, or probably reach Nashville, if required, before the arrival of Buell, who would have to make a much longer march. That our success must lie in following the cardinal principle of war, the swift concentration of our masses against the enemy's exposed fractions; and that if we could concentrate our forces for the offensive with greater rapidity, all other things being equal, we had the chances in our favor; and that in war it was ‘Nothing venture, nothing win.’ General Johnston admitted this, but said that, owing to the great responsibility which rested on him, and the disaster to be apprehended to the Confederacy, should he meet with defeat, he must adhere to his intended plan of operations.

This was another of those fatal errors, and losses of priceless opportunity, which brought on the final defeat of our cause. The result was a proof of it.

Fort Henry, being attacked on the 6th, was surrendered on the same day, after a short, but soldierly, defence. Its commander, Brigadier-General Lloyd Tilghman, as soon as he discovered his inability to resist the overpowering land and naval forces brought against him, detached the supporting force—two thousand six hundred and ten strong—across the neck, to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, remaining himself to work the guns with a handful of men—about one hundred—with whom he was captured.1 This was a conspicuous example of self-sacrifice and gallantry,

1 That gallant officer was subsequently killed while defending Port Hudson, on the Mississippi River, shortly after his return from captivity, which he had borne with no less patience than dignity. It is to be regretted that, since the war, calumny has endeavored to fix upon him the responsibility and odium of the loss of that weak and badly armed work. See, in Appendix, the report of General Tilghman.

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