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[496] main work, towards Fort Donelson, resolving to suffer as little loss as possible. I retained only the heavy artillery company to fight the guns, and gave the order to commence the movement at once. At 10 1/4 o'clock Lieutenant McGavock sent a messenger to me, stating that our pickets reported General Grant approaching rapidly, and within half a mile of the advance work; and movements on the west bank indicated that General Smith was fast approaching also.

* * * * * * *

At 11.45 A. M. the enemy opened from their gun-boats on the fort. I waited a few moments, until the effects of the first shots of the enemy were fully appreciated. I then gave the order to return the fire, which was gallantly responded to by the brave little band under my command. The enemy, with great deliberation, steadily closed upon the fart, firing very wild until within twelve hundred yards. The cool deliberation of our men told from the first shot, fired with tremendous effect. At twenty-five minutes of 1 o'clock P. M. the bursting of our 24-pounder rifled gun disabled every man at the piece.

This great loss was, to us, in a degree, made up by our disabling entirely the Essex gunboat, which immediately floated down stream. Immediately after the loss of this valuable gun we sustained another loss still greater, in the closing up of the vent of 10-inch Columbiad, rendering that gun perfectly useless, and defying all efforts to reopen it.

* * * * * * *

It was now plain to be seen that the enemy were breaching the fort directly in front of our guns, and that I could not much longer sustain their fire without an unjustifiable exposure of the valuable lives of the men who had so nobly seconded me in the unequal struggle. Several of my officers, Major Gilmer among the number, now suggested to me the propriety of taking the subject of a surrender into consideration.

Every moment, I knew, was of vast importance to those retreating on Fort Donelson, and I declined, hoping to find men enough at hand to continue awhile longer the fire now so destructive to the enemy. In this I was disappointed. My next effort was to try the experiment of a flag of truce, which I waved from the parapets myself. This was precisely at ten minutes before 2 o'clock P. M. The flag was not noticed, I presume from the dense smoke that enveloped it, and, leaping again into the fort, I continued the fire for five minutes, when, with the advice of my brother officers, I ordered the flag to be lowered, after an engagement of two hours and ten minutes with such an unequal force.

The surrender was made to Flag-Officer Foote, represented by Captain Stemble, commanding gunboat Cincinnati, and was qualified by the single condition that all officers should retain their side arms, that both officers and men should be treated with the highest consideration due prisoners of war, which was promptly and gracefully acceded to by Commodore Foote.

* * * * * * *

Confident of having performed my whole duty to my government in the defence of Fort Henry, with the totally inadequate means at my disposal, I have but little to add in support of the views before expressed. The reasons for the line of policy pursued by me are, to my mind, convincing.

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