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[495] four points on the opposite shore, while three points on the eastern bank completely command them both—all at easy cannon range. At the same time the intrenched camp, arranged as it was in the best possible manner to meet the case, was two thirds of it completely under the control of the fire of the gunboats. The history of military engineering records has no parallel to this case. Points within a few miles of it, possessing great advantages and few disadvantages, were totally neglected; and a location fixed upon, without one redeeming feature, or filling one of the many requirements of a site for a work such as Fort Henry. The work itself was well built; it was completed long before I took command, but strengthened greatly by myself in building embrasures and epaulments of sand-bags. An enemy had but to use their most common sense in obtaining the advantage of high water, as was the case, to have complete and entire control of the position. I am guilty of no act of injustice in this frank avowal of the opinions entertained by myself, as well as by all other officers who have become familiar with the location of Fort Henry. Nor do I desire the defects of location to have an undue influence in directing public opinion in relation to the battle of the 6th instant. The fort was built when I took charge, and I had no time to build anew.

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The case stood thus: I had, at my command, a grand total of two thousand six hundred and ten men, only one third of whom had been at all disciplined or well armed. The high water in the river, filling the sloughs, gave me but one route on which to retire, if necessary; and that route, for some distance, in direction at right angles to the line of approach of the enemy, and over roads well-nigh impassable for artillery, cavalry, or infantry. The enemy had seven gunboats, with an armament of fifty-four guns, to engage the eleven guns at Fort Henry.

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I argued thus: Fort Donelson might possibly be held, if properly reinforced, even though Fort Henry should fall; but the reverse of this proposition was not true. The force at Fort Henry was necessary to aid Fort Donelson, either in making a successful defence, or in holding it long enough to answer the purposes of a new disposition of the entire army from Bowling Green to Columbus, which would necessarily follow the breaking of our centre, resting on Forts Donelson and Henry. The latter alternative was all that I deemed possible. I knew that reinforcements were difficult to be had; and that, unless sent in such force as to make the defence certain, which I did not believe practicable, the fate of our right wing at Bowling Green depended upon a concentration of my entire division on Fort Donelson, and the holding of that place as long as possible; trusting that the delay, by an action at Fort Henry, would give time for such reinforcement as might reasonably be expected to reach a point sufficiently near Donelson to co-operate with my division by getting to the rear and right flank of the enemy, and in such a position as to control the roads over which a safe retreat might be effected. I hesitated not a moment. My infantry, artillery, and cavalry, removed, of necessity, to avoid the fire of the gunboats, to the outworks, could not meet the enemy there. My only chance was to delay the enemy every moment possible, and retire the command, now outside the


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