One of the Northern
correspondents graphically describes the bloody field of Fort Donelson
, and mentions a number of incidents in connection therewith, some portion of which we copy:
The battle continued three days, commencing on Thursday and ending on Saturday at dark; but on this last day it was most general.
Thursday was very cold, the mercury being only 10 deg, above zero; and during the night it sleeted and snowed, as it did also the following night.
Friday was warmer; still it froze all day, and the snow did not melt till after the fort surrendered.
The distance between the two armies during the three days, in many cases, was so slight that we could not bring off our dead, and the wounded who could neither walk nor crawl, remained where they fell till Sunday morning, some, even till late that day. A prisoner told me that some Germans lay wounded before their earthworks on Friday night, calling for help and water, and that they went out to bring them in, but, it being moonlight, our men fired on them, and they were obliged to go back.
It was early Sunday morning before they ventured out again, when they brought them in. They were still alive, but blue with cold and covered with frost and snow.
They did what they could for them, but it was not much, and for this reason.
For a week they had been guarding their earthworks, three miles in length, and from Thursday they had been out in force, night and day; many of them in the rifle pits froze their feet and hands.
On the boat I saw young officers whose slaves pulled off their stockings, and as they did so the skin from various parts of the feet came along with them.
In passing from their works to their quarters they frequently had to deep, and then lay down to sleep in their wet clothes.
The least result was violent cold.
In addition, our gunboats kept m in constant alarm, and artillerists were word out with constant watching.
suddenly coming up to the enemy, was forced to retreat beneath an awful shower of halls.
then called for volunteers to bring if he wounded.
Twenty or thirty started, crawling, and they brought off a few, but some of them were wounded in the attempt.
Again volunteers were and they approached fire, when one of cut wounded beckoned them away.
The was madness, just then the took fire and, revered by the smoke, our men and saved a few more; but the cloches of these had taken fire, and some perished miserably.
Those who were left of course perished.
General Gr nt ordered that no fires should be built at night; but fires were built, and they illumined the woods for miles.
It would have been merciful if, at the close of each day, we had been permitted under a truce to bring off our wounded; but it was not so, and they lay in the frost and sleet between the two armies — many to hear, but none to help them.
The severity of the cold is well illustrated by the statement made by our field officers, who rode from post to post during the night, that in the morning their clothes were so stiff that could they have been taken off they would have stood alone.
It is doubtful whether suffering was greater, though it was longer, in the retreat of the French
Let no one hereafter say that our soldiers are paid too much.
Most of the horses of many of our batteries were shot down.
They had been well trained and stood fire well.
The horse is the most intelligent of all animals.
He has a thinking eye, it sparkles with inquiry as you approach him. He loves music, and in the horrors of battle is not afraid.
calls the horse as ranger, perhaps he was so little understood, Saturday morning, when the enemy came on in heavy columns with knapsacks on, and three times were driven back with tremendous slaughter, some batteries were ordered to positions which the enemy had before a little while occupied.
The horses hesitated not to tread on the wounded, dying and dead, and the ponderous artillery wheels crushed limbs and skulls.
It was an awful sight to behold weak, wounded men lifting their feeble hands beneath the horses' hoofs.
Sighs at least are due to the noble horses which fell in this battle.
Going over this part of the field on Sunday, where the dead lay thickly, and where the track of the artillery could be traced, some words of the old poet came to mind:
"So the fierce coursers as the chariot rolls
Tread down whole ranks and crush out heroes's souls,
Dashed form their hoofs, while o'er the dead they fly,
Black, bloody drops the smoking chariot dye;
The spikey wheels through heaps of carnage fore,
And thick the groaning axles dropped with gore."
The town of Dover
, containing, perhaps, one hundred houses, must be considered a part of he battle-field, as it was within the rebel lines.
Every room contained sick, wounded or dead men. The inhabitants had fled.
Some of our soldiers were sacking it, contrary to express orders.
I saw plates, knives and forks, and articles of flue female wearing apparel
, on the floor; bloody rags were everywhere, and often pieces of human flesh cut away by the surgeons, and you could not open a door without hearing groans.
No matter how grand or how low, how retired or how public the house might be, it was all the same.
Thunder and lightning, cholera or other pestilence, or the most awful earthquake, could not have caused such a scene of horror.