Chapter 8: the siege and capture of Fort Donelson.
-- boat expedition up the Tennessee River, 206.
-- Commodore Foote in the pulpit, 207.
-- preparations for marching against Fort Donelson, 208.
-- character and 8trepngth of Fort Donelson, 209.
-- disposition of forces for battle, 210.
-- the Carondelet
-- opening of the battle, 211.
-- defeat of the National troops
-- arrival of
General Lewis Wallace's command, 212.
-- attack on the water batteries, 213.
-- the Confederates prepare for a sortie, 214.
-- severe battle on the National right
-- General Lewis Wallace hastens to McClernand's assistance, 215.
-- the tide of battle turned by Wallace, 216.
-- Grant on the battle
-- his order for another attack, 217.
-- struggle on the National left
-- victory for the Nationals, 218.
-- the Confederates in council
-- Conduct of their cowardly leaders, 219.
-- terms of surrender, 220.
-- surrender of Fort Donelson, 221.
-- effect of the fall of Fort Donelson, 222.
-- Floyd and Pillow disgraced, 223.
-- the Army mail
-- service, 224.
-- the Army mail at Washington, 225.
-- a voyage on the Cumberland River, 226.
-- visit to Fort Donelson, 227.
-- Nashville, 229.
The fall of Fort Henry
was followed by immediate preparations for an attack on Fort Donelson
, on the Cumberland River
Preparatory to this was a reconnoissance up the Tennessee River
. Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps
was sent up that river on the evening of the day of battle,
with a detachment of Foote
's flotilla, consisting of the Conestoga, Tyler
, and Lexington
, to reconnoiter the borders of the stream as far toward its upper waters as possible.
When he reached the bridge of the railway between Memphis
and Bowling Green
, he found the draw closed, its machinery disabled, and some Confederate transports just above it, escaping up the river.
A portion of the bridge was then hastily destroyed, and the work of demolition was completed the following day by Commander Walke
, of the Carondelet
, who was sent up by General Grant
for. the purpose.
The fugitive transports were so closely pursued that those in charge of them abandoned all, and burned two that were laden with military stores.1
In this flight an officer left papers behind him which gave an important official history of the Confederate
naval preparations on the western rivers.
Onward the little flotilla went, seizing Confederate vessels and destroying Confederate public property as far up as Florence, in Alabama
, at the foot of the Muscle Shoals
appeared in sight of that town, three Confederate steamers there, loaded with supplies, were set on fire, but a part of their contents, with other property on shore, was saved.
A delegation of citizens waited upon the commander to ask for kind treatment for their families, and the salvation of the bridge that spanned the Tennessee
He assured them that women and children would not be disturbed, as he and his men were not savages; and as to the bridge, being of no military account, it should be saved.
Returning, Lieutenant Phelps
recruited a number of loyal Tennesseeans, seized arms and other Confederate property in several places, and caused the
flight of a considerable number of troops from Savannah
, on the eastern bank of the river, which he had prepared to attack.
His reconnoissance was a perfect success.
It discovered the real weakness of the Confederacy
in that direction, the feasibility of marching an army into the heart of the Confederacy
, and, better than all, it developed the most gratifying evidences of genuine Union feeling in Tennessee
, and Alabama
The river banks in places were crowded with men, women, and children, who greeted the old flag with the greatest enthusiasm.
“I was assured at Savannah
,” he said, “that, of the several hundred troops there, more than one-half, had we gone to the attack in time, would have hailed us as deliverers, and gladly enlisted with the National
Over and over again he was assured that nothing but the dreadful reign of terror then prevailing kept thousands from openly expressing their attachment to the old flag.
“Bring us a small organized force, with arms and ammunition,” they said, “and we can maintain our position.”
The report of this reconnoissance was very cheering, and it was determined to capture Fort Donelson
as speedily as possible, and then, with a heavy force, march across Tennessee
and penetrate Alabama
had already hurried back to Cairo
with the Cincinnati, Essex
, and St. Louis
, to prepare mortar-boats for the new enter-prise, leaving Commander Walke
, of the Carondelet
, in charge of a portion of his flotilla at Fort Henry
With the spirit of the old Puritans (from whom he was descended3
), who were everr eady to fight or pray, as circumstances might require, he went into the pulpit of the Presbyterian church at Cairo
, on the Sunday after the capture of Fort Henry
and preached a stirring sermon from the words of Jesus--“Let not your hearts be troubled.
Ye believe in God; believe also in me.”
He poured forth eloquent sentences in humble thanks to Almighty God for the recent victory, and inspired all who heard him with burning zeal in the National
A mortar-boat.5 |
, at the same time, was making vigorous preparations for attacking Fort Donelson
Re-enforcements were arriving in Cairo
they were rapidly gathering.
He reorganized his army, with McClernand
at the head of the principal divisions, as before, while a third division was formed of small proportions at first, but destined to be enlarged by six regiments sent around by water.
The latter division was under the command of Lewis Wallace
, of the famous Eleventh Indiana Zouave Regiment,7
who was promoted to be a brigadier-general on the day of the capture of Fort Henry
's division were the field batteries of Schwartz
, and McAllister
; and with Smith
's were the heavy batteries of Richardson
, and Walker
, the whole under the command of Major Cavender
, chief of artillery
On the 11th, General Grant
called a council of war, which was composed of his division commanders and several acting brigadiers.
“Shall we march on Donelson
, or wait for further re-enforcements?”
was the question considered.
Information that heavy re-enforcements were hastening toward that stronghold carried a decision in favor of an immediate march against it; and in general field orders the next morning, Grant
directed one of McClernand
's brigades to move at once by the telegraph road directly upon Fort Donelson
, and to halt within two miles of it; his other three brigades to march by the Dover Ridge
road, to within the same distance, to unite with the first in forming the right wing in the investment of the fort.
Two of Smith
's Brigades were to follow by the Dover Road
, and these were to be followed, in turn, by the troops on the left bank of the river, then occupying Fort Hieman, as soon as they could be sent forward.
was directed to occupy the little village of Dover
, on the river bank, a short mile above the fort, if possible, and thus cut off the retreat of the Confederates
up the stream.
Let us observe the character and strength of the works to be assailed, called Fort Donelson
In the center of Stewart County, in Tennessee
, was its shire town of Dover
, situated on the left bank of the Cumberland River
, where that stream, running nearly due north, makes an abrupt turn to the westward, and, after flowing about half a mile, as suddenly turns to the northward.
At this turn, about a mile below Dover
, Fort Donelson
was constructed, with two water batteries near the river's edge, and all so arranged as to have a large number of guns trained directly down the stream.
The country in that vicinity is broken into a singular conglomerate of hills and knolls, divided by deep valleys and ravines, rendering possession easy, and attack very difficult.
Upon one of these hills, terminating at the river, and broken by hollows, Fort Donelson
Its lines were irregular, and inclosed almost one hundred acres of land.
Below it was Hickman's Creek,
a sort of back-water of the Tennessee
, seldom fordable, excepting at the distance of a mile or more from the river.
Just above the fort, and between it and Dover
, was a small creek, flowing through a ravine.
The water batteries were admirably planted for commanding the river approaches from below.
They had strong epaulments, or side works, and
Lower water battery. |
their embrasures were revetted with coffee-sacks filled with sand.
The lower or principal battery was armed with eight 32-pounders, and one 10-inch Columbiad; and the other bore a heavy rifled cannon that carried a 128-pound bolt, flanked by two 32-pound carronades.9
The only guns in the fort (which was at a mean elevation above the river of nearly one hundred feet) were four light siege-guns, a 12-pound howitzer, two 24-pounders, and one 64-pound howitzer.
Back of the fort the forest was cut down, and supporting field works were erected for the use of infantry and artillery.
Still farther back, at the mean distance of a mile from the fort, was an irregular and detached line of light intrenchments for riflemen, fronting landward, with a parapet of Togs and earth, which commenced at Hickman's Creek, and extended to a back-water on Hysmith's farm, above Dover
, thus completely surrounding the fort and the town landward.
In front of these intrenchments was a row of slashed timber, forming strong abatis
. Altogether, the post seemed to have been mad; by nature and art almost impregnable.
And within these intrenchments, when Grant
appeared before them to make an assault, were more than twenty thousand effective men.10
It was expected
that this force behind fortifications would check the further advance of the Nationals up the Cumberland
, and thus secure the safety of Nashville
clearly perceived the importance of the post, and when it was threatened by the attack on Fort Henry
, which was only twelve miles distant, he gave it all the re-enforcements in his power.
“I determined,” he said, “to fight for Nashville
, and have the best part of my army to do it,” and so he sent sixteen thousand troops there, retaining only fourteen thousand men to cover his front at Bowling Green
It is difficult to conceive how a veteran soldier like Johnston
could have intrusted a business so important as the command of so large a force, on so momentous an occasion, to such weak men as Gideon J. Pillow
and John B. Floyd
, who were successively placed in chief command of Fort Donelson
, at that time.
But so it was. Pillow
had arrived there on the 10th of the month,
and with the aid of Major Gilmer
, General Johnston
's chief engineer, had worked diligently in strengthening the defenses.
On the 13th he was superseded by Floyd
, who, as we have observed, had fled from Virginia
with his followers.12
He had been ordered from Cumberland City
by General Johnston
, to hasten to Fort Donelson
, and take chief command.
He arrived there, with Virginia
troops, on the morning of the 13th. General Simon B. Buckner
was there at the head of re-enforcements from Bowling Green
, and he was the only one of the three possessed of sufficient ability and military knowledge to conduct the defense with any hope of success; yet he was subordinate to the other two, until, as we shall observe presently, their fears overcame their honor, and in the hour of extreme necessity they invested him with the chief command, and deserted him.
The morning of the 12th
was like one in spring, so warm and balmy was the atmosphere.
At an early hour, the divisions of McClernand
, preceded by cavalry, in all about fifteen thousand men, began their march over the hilly country toward Fort Donelson
, leaving behind them a brigade at Fort Hieman, under General Wallace
, who was placed in command of that post and Fort Henry
At the same time, Foote
was moving up the Cumberland
with his gun-boats, convoying transports filled with troops that were to constitute Wallace
's Third Division.
The columns, commanded respectively by Colonels Oglesby
and W. H. L. Wallace
, of the First division, and Colonels Cook
, of the Second division (who were acting brigadiers), while moving across the wooded country between the two rivers, met with no armed men, and early in
the afternoon they came in sight of the fort, drove in the pickets, and proceeded, with some severe skirmishing, to take their prescribed positions, as nearly as possible.
Every thing was in readiness for battle before morning, and at dawn
the attack was commenced by the sharp-shooters of Colonel Berge
(Sixty-sixth Illinois Regiment13
), who advanced upon the Confederate
pickets, and thus disclosed the position of the Nationals.
The batteries of the Confederates
, on the land side, were at once opened, while the water batteries engaged the Carondelet
, a solitary ironclad gun-boat in the river.
During a desultory fire from the Confederates
rapidly posted his troops for the most vigorous work.
was placed on the right, with Oglesby
's Brigade at the extreme, and Smith
's was posted on the left, opposite the northwest portion of the fort.
The light artillery was planted, with proper infantry supports, upon the various roads, to repel approaching columns, while the heavier guns, under the direction of Major Cavender
, were brought to bear upon those of the fort.
With this general disposition of his troops along a line nearly four miles in length, Grant
, who had made the house of Mrs. Crisp
, about two miles from Dover
, at the head of Hickman's Creek, his Headquarters, refrained from a general attack, while waiting for the arrival of the gun-boats and Wallace
's Third Division.
Yet heavy artillery firing and brisk skirmishing were kept up all the forenoon, and Berge
's sharpshooters, concealed behind logs and trees,
spread terror among the Confederate
gunners, who were rapidly picked off by them.
Finally, with a determination to make a lodgment upon the Confederate
, at about noon, ordered Colonel Wallace
to capture a formidable battery, known as the Middle Redoubt
, on a hill west of a valley, which separated the right wing under Buckner
from the right center commanded by Colonel Hieman
The troops employed for this purpose were Illinois
regiments — the Seventeenth, Major Smith
, commanding; the Forty-eighth, Colonel Hayne
; and the Forty-ninth, Colonel Morrison
--covered by McAllister
They were placed under Hayne
, who was the senior colonel
Dashing across the intervening knolls and ravines, and up toward the battery, with great spirit, they found themselves confronted by superior numbers.
Their line not being long enough to envelope the works, the Forty-fifth Illinois, Colonel Smith
sent to their support on the right.
They, too, displayed great courage in the face of a galling fire.
The Confederates were concentrated in defense of the position with two supporting field batteries, and soon began to show strength in front of Oglesby
's battery was first advanced to meet this new danger, and then Taylor
was directed to throw forward two sections of his battery to that position.
The fight for a little while was severe and stubborn, when the Nationals were repulsed.
Similar movements on the left by a portion of Colonel Lauman
's brigade were equally unsuccessful, and in both cases the National
loss was heavy.
The troops, somewhat discouraged, fell back to the position they occupied in the morning, and anxiously awaited the arrival of the gun-boats and expected re-enforcements.
That night the National
troops were terribly smitten by an unexpected enemy.
The spring-like morning, during which many of them, in expectation of a battle, had laid aside their overcoats and blankets, was succeeded by clouds and chilliness in the afternoon, heavy rain in the evening, and sleet and snow and severe frost at midnight, the mercury having rapidly fallen at that hour to only ten degrees above zero.
The besiegers were bivouacked without tents, and dared not light a fire, because it immediately became a mark for the guns of the besieged.
Their food was scant, and some were without any; and in that keen wintry air, the ground like iron, and mailed in ice, with insufficient clothing, no shelter, and half starved, the weary, worn, and intensely-suffering troops sadly and anxiously awaited the dawn and the expected re-enforcements.
The Confederates, who lay upon their arms all night in the trenches, were equal sufferers.
Conscious of the peril of his situation, Grant
had sent a courier to General Wallace
at Fort Henry
, to bring over the garrison there immediately.
The order reached that officer at about midnight.
he marched for Fort Donelson
, with the Eleventh Indiana, the Eighth Missouri, and his battery in charge of Company A, Chicago Artillery.
A crust of sleet and snow covered the ground, and the air was full of drifting frost.
With cheering, and singing of songs, and sounding of bugles these troops pressed on, and at noon the general reported at Grant
's Headquarters, and dined with him on crackers and coffee.
In the mean time the gunboats and transports had arrived, and with them the re-enforcements that were to form the Third Division.
The advent of the latter was most timely.
They were landed with their artillery three miles below the fort, and, rapidly clearing the woods before them, were standing around Grant
's Headquarters soon after Wallace
's arrival there.
He was at once placed in command of them,14
and posted between McClernand
, thereby (with two of Smith
's regiments, under McArthur
, posted on McClernand
's extreme right) completing the absolute investment of the fort and its outworks.
He was ordered by Grant
to hold that position, and to prevent
the enemy from escaping in that direction; in other words, to repel any sally from the fort.
Rations that had been brought forward were now issued to the half-starved men of the line, and all the preparations for a general assault were soon completed.
The gun-boat Carondelet
, Commander Walke
, which had arrived two days before, and made a diversion in favor of Grant15
on the 13th, had the honor of opening the assault on Fort Donelson
, at three o'clock in the after-noon of Friday, the 14th,
and was immediately joined by the armored vessels St. Louis
, and Louisville
These formed the first line.
The second line was composed of the unarmored gun-boats Conestoga
, and Lexington
The whole were under the personal command of Commodore Foote
, who had not been able to get his mortar-boats in readiness to accompany the expedition.
The flotilla made direct war upon the water-batteries, with the intention of silencing and passing them, so as to gain a position to enfilade the faces of the fort with broadsides.
The fight was severe.
Never was a little squadron exposed to so terrible a fire.
Twenty heavy guns were trained upon it, those from the hill-side hurling plunging shot with awful precision and effect, while only twelve boat-guns could reply.
Yet, in the face of this terrific storm, Foote
, with his flag-ship (St. Louis
) and the other armored boats, slowly moved nearer and nearer in the desperate struggle, until he was only four hundred yards from the batteries.
Very soon the upper one of four guns was silenced, the men were flying from both to the fort above, and the victorious vessels were on the point of shooting by, when the Louisville
, assailed by flying missiles and a cross fire, was disabled by a shot which cut away her rudder-chains.
Utterly helpless, she drifted away with the current of the narrow river.
The flag-ship was very soon in a similar condition, and the commodore was severely wounded in the foot by a falling piece of timber.
The other two armored vessels were terribly wounded, and a heavy rifled cannon on the Carondelet
was bursted during the engagement.
For more than an hour the tempest of iron had been beating furiously
upon the four armored vessels, and so perilous became the condition of them all, that Foote
ordered them to withdraw.
Then the fugitives from the shore batteries ran back to their guns, and gave the retiring flotilla some deadly parting blows.
The four vessels received during the action, in the aggregate, no less than one hundred and forty-one wounds from the Confederate
shot and shell,17
and lost fifty-four men killed and maimed.
After consultation with General Grant
and his own officers, Foote
set out for Cairo
, for the purpose of having the damages to his flotilla repaired, and to bring up a competent naval force to assist in carrying on the siege with greater vigor.18 Grant
resolved to wait for his return and for large re-enforcements, meanwhile strengthening his own weak points, holding the Confederates
tightly in their intrenchments, and cutting off their supplies, with a possibility of starving them into a surrender.
The besieged were conscious of their peril, which would increase with every hour of delay.
The officers of divisions and brigades held a council of war on the evening of the 14th,
over which Floyd
, the chief commander
He gave it as his opinion that the fort was untenable with less than fifty thousand men to defend it, and proposed, for the purpose of saving the garrison, to make a sortie next morning, with half his army and Forrest
's cavalry, upon McClernand
's division on Grant
's right, crush it, or throw it back upon Wallace
, and by a succeeding movement on the center, by Buckner
, cast the whole beleaguering army into confusion, or rout and destroy it, when the liberated troops might easily pass out into the open country around Nashville
This plan, promising success, was agreed to by unanimous consent, and preparations were made accordingly.
The troops designated for the grand sortie, about ten thousand in number, were under the command of Generals Pillow
and Bushrod R. Johnston
, the former being chief.
They were put in motion from Dover
at five o'clock on Saturday morning ; Colonel Baldwin
's brigade of three regiments of Mississippi
troops in advance, followed by four Virginia
regiments, under Colonels Wharton
, and several more under Colonels Davidson
, and others.
These were accompanied by Forest
's cavalry and thirty heavy guns, with a full complement of artillerists.
This main body were directed to attack McClernand
's troops, who
occupied the heights that reached to the river, just above Dover
was directed to strike Wallace
's division, which lay across the Wynne
Ferry road, at about the same time, so that it should not be in a condition to aid McClernand
expected, he said, “to roll the enemy in full retreat over upon General Buckner
, when, by his attack in flank and rear,” they “could cut up the enemy and put him completely to rout.”
's division was well posted to resist the assailants, had they been on the alert; but the movement of the Confederates
appears not to have been even suspected.
Reveille was just sounding, and the troops were not under arms; and so sudden and vigorous was Pillow
's attack, that the whole of Grant
's right wing was seriously menaced within twenty minutes after the presence of the Confederates
Then vigor and skill marked every movement, and Pillow
's attempt to throw cavalry in the rear of McArthur
, on Oglesby
's extreme right, was thwarted.
The attack was quick, furious, and heavy.
's brigade had received the first shock of the battle, and gallantly withstood it until their ammunition began to fail.
Colonel W. H. L. Wallace
's brigade hastened to their relief, but the pressure was so tremendous that Oglesby
's line all gave way, excepting the extreme left, held by the Thirty-first Illinois, whose commander, Colonel John A. Logan
, inspired his troops with such courage and faith by his own acts, that they stood like a wall opposed to the foe, and prevented a panic and a rout.
In the mean time the light batteries under Taylor
, and Dresser
, shifting positions and continually sending heavy volleys of grape and canister shot, made the line of the assailants recoil again and again.
But the fresh troops continually pressing forward in greater numbers kept its strength unimpaired, paired, and very soon the whole of Mc-Clernand's
division was in such a perilous situation, that at about eight o'clock he sent to General Lewis Wallace
, commanding the Third Division, for immediate assistance.
As the latter was assigned to the special duty of preventing the escape of the Confederates
, he applied to Headquarters for instructions.
was away in conference with Commodore Foote
sent for assistance, saying substantially that his flank was turned, and his whole command was endangered.
took the responsibility of immediately ordering Colonel Cruft
to move his brigade on to the right, and report to McClernand
An incompetent guide took Cruft
too far to the right, where he was fiercely assailed by a greatly superior force, and compelled to bear the brunt of battle for a time.
He struggled gallantly with an equally gallant foe, charging and receiving charges with varied fortunes, until his antagonists gave up the fight.
In the mean time General Buckner
had made his appearance, in considerable
force, to attack the left of the center of Grant
's line, and produce the confusion as directed in Floyd
There seemed to be much peril to the National
troops in this movement, and the danger seemed more imminent when some frightened fugitives from the battle came crowding up the hill in the rear of Wallace
's Division, and a mounted officer dashed along, shouting, “We are cut to pieces!”
It was here that the whole of McClernand's line, including Cruft
's men, was rapidly falling back.
, and Ransom
were wounded, and a large number of subalterns had been killed, yet there was no confusion in that line.
This was the crisis of the battle, and it was promptly met. To prevent a panic in his own brigade, Wallace
ordered Colonel Thayer
to move on by the right flank.
Riding at the front, he met the retiring troops, moving in good order and calling for ammunition, the want of which had been the chief cause of their misfortune.
He saw that every thing depended upon prompt action.
There was no time to wait for orders, so he thrust his third brigade (Colonel Thayer
commanding) between the retiring troops and the flushed Confederates, who were rapidly following, formed a new line of battle across the road, with the Chicago artillery, Lieutenant Wood
, in the center, and the First Nebraska, Fifty-eighth Illinois, Fifty-eighth Ohio, and a company of the Thirty-second Illinois on its right and left.
Back of these was a reserve, composed of the Seventy-sixth Ohio, and Forty-sixth and Fifty-seventh Illinois.
In this position they awaited attack, while McClernand
's retiring troops, halting near, supplied themselves with ammunition from wagons which Wallace
had ordered up.
These preparations were just completed when the Confederates
(the forces of Pillow
) fell heavily upon the battery and First Nebraska, and were cast back by them as the rock throws back the billows.
“To say they did well,” said Wallace
, “is not enough; their conduct was splendid.
They alone repelled the charge ;” 21
and the Confederates
, after a severe contest, retired to their works in confusion.
“They withdrew,” said Buckner
, “without panic, but in some confusion, to the trenches.”
This was the last sally from the fort, for, by the timely and effectual interposition of the Third Division, the plans of the Confederates
“I speak advisedly
,” wrote Captain W. S. Hillyer
's Aidde-camp) to General Wallace
the next day, on a slip of paper with pencil, “God bless you!
You did save the day on the right!”
, with his usual shallowness, had sent an aid, when McClernand's line gave way, to telegraph to Johnston
, that “on the honor of a soldier” the day was theirs ;23
and he foolishly persisisted in saying, in his first report, a few days afterward, that the Confederates
had accomplished their object, when it was known to all that they had utterly failed.
It was at about noon when the Confederates
were driven back to their trenches.
seemed doubtful of his ability to make a successful assault upon their works with his present force, and at about three o'clock in the afternoon he called McClernand
aside for consultation.
They were all on horseback.
held some dispatches in his hand.
He spoke of the seeming necessity of falling back and intrenching, so as to stand on the defensive, until re-enforcements and Foote
's flotilla should arrive.
His words were few, as usual, and his face was flushed by strong emotions of the mind, while he turned his eyes nervously now and then on the dispatches.
It was suggested that McClernand
's defeat uncovered the road by which the enemy might escape to Clarksville
In an instant the General
's countenance changed from cloudiness to sunshine.
A new thought took possession of him and he acted instantly on its suggestions.
Grasping the dispatches more firmly, he ordered McClernand
to retake the hill he had lost, while Smith
should make a simultaneous attack on the Confederate
The new movement was immediately begun.
to retake the ground lost in the morning.
A column of attack was soon formed, with the Eighth Missouri, Colonel Morgan L. Smith
, and the Eleventh Indiana (Wallace
's old regiment), Colonel George McGinnis
(both led by the former as a brigade), moving at the head.
regiments, under Colonel Ross
, formed a supporting column.
At the same time, Colonel Cruft
formed a line of battle at the foot of the hill.
The Eighth Missouri led the van, closely followed by the Eleventh Indiana; and when about half way up the hill, they received a volley from its summit.
The ground was broken, rough, and partly wooded.
pressed on, and the struggle was fierce and unyielding for more than an hour.
Gradually the Confederates
were pushed back, and their assailants soon cleared the hill.
They drove the insurgents to their intrenchments, and would have assailed them there had not an order reached Wallace
, when he was only one hundred and fifty yards off the works, to halt and retire his column, as a new plan of operations was in contemplation for the next day. That commander was astonished and perplexed.
He was satisfied that Grant
was not informed of the entire success of his movement.
He was also satisfied that if he should fall back and give up the hill (it was then five o'clock in the evening) the way would be opened for the Confederates
to escape under cover of approaching darkness.
So he assumed the responsibility of disobeying the order, and he bivouacked on the field of victory.
All of that keen wintry night his wearied troops were busy in ministering to the wants of the wounded, and in burying the many Illinois
The graves of the Illinois troops.25 |
troops who had fallen in the conflict of the morning.
They also made preparations for storming the Confederate
works at an early hour on the following day.
was carrying on the successful movement on the Confederate
was assailing their intrenchments on their right.
He posted Cavender
's heavy guns so as to pour a murderous fire upon these and the fort.
's Brigade formed the attacking column, while Cook
's Brigade, posted on the left, was ordered to make a feigned attack.
was directed to carry the heights on the left of the position that had been assailed on Thursday.
He placed the Second Iowa, Colonel Tuttle
, in the van. These were followed by the Fifty-sixth Indiana as a support.
These, in turn, were closely followed by the Twenty-fifth Indiana and Seventh and Fourteenth Iowa, while Berge
's sharp-shooters were deployed as skirmishers on the extreme right and left of the column.
When all were in readiness, General Smith
rode along the line, told the troops he would lead them, and directed them to clear the rifle-pits with the bayonet alone.
At a given signal, the column moved, under cover of Captain Stone
's Missouri Battery; and Smith
, with a color-bearer at his side, rode in advance, his commanding figure, flowing gray hair, and courageous example, inspiring the men with the greatest admiration.
Very soon the column was swept by a terrible fire from the Confederate artillery.
It wavered for a moment, but the words and acts of the General
soon restored its steadiness, and it moved on rapidly.
was within range of the Confederate
muskets, he placed himself at the head of his men and shouted “Forward!”
Without firing a gun, they charged upon the Confederates
with the bayonet, driving them from their intrenchments, and, in the midst of cheers from a thousand voices, the National standard was planted upon them.
When darkness fell, General Grant
knew that his plan, so suddenly conceived in a moment of anxiety, had secured a solid triumph — that the rich fruit of victory was ripe and ready to fall into his lap. There was joy in the National
camp that night, while terror brooded over the imprisoned Confederates.
“ How shall we escape?”
was the important question anxiously considered by the Confederate
leaders that night, especially by Floyd
; the former terror-stricken, because of the danger of falling into the hands of the Government
, against which he had committed such fearful crimes; and the latter suffering unnecessarily for the same reason, his vanity magnifying his own importance much beyond its true proportions.
A Council of War was held at Pillow
's Headquarters, in Dover
, at midnight, to consider the matter.
There were criminations and recriminations, and Floyd
seemed to think of little else than the salvation of themselves from the power of their injured Government.
, too, desired to escape, and it was resolved to effect it, if possible, by cutting their way through the supposed weak right of the National lines
, at five o'clock in the morning, and press on toward Nashville
was ordered, at about two o'clock, to ascertain the position of the Nationals, and the practicability of escaping by the river road.
He reported, that the position from which the Confederates
had been driven by Wallace
in the afternoon, on the left, by which lay their projected course of
escape, was held by a large body of troops, and that the back-water above Dover
could not be crossed except by cavalry.
Again the council deliberated, when is was agreed that the cost of an attempt to cut their way out would probably be the loss of the lives of three-fourths of the troops.
“No commander,” said Buckner
, “has a right to make such a sacrifice.”
agreed with him, and quickly said, “Then we will have to capitulate; but, gentlemen,” he added, nervously, “I
cannot surrender; you know my position with the Federals
: it wouldn't do, it wouldn't do.”
then said to Floyd
, “I will not surrender myself nor the command; will die first
.” --“Then,” said Buckner
, coolly, “I suppose, gentlemen, the surrender will devolve upon me.”
The terrified Floyd
quickly asked, “General, if you are put in command, will you allow me to take out, by the river, my brigade?” --“If you move before I shall offer to surrender,” Buckner
“Then, sir,” said Floyd
, “I surrender thy command.”
, who was next in rank, and to whom Floyd
offered to transfer the command, quickly exclaimed, “I will not accept it — I will never surrender.”
While speaking, he turned toward Buckner
, who said, “I will accept, and share the fate of my command.”
When the capitulation was determined upon, Floyd
, who, it has been justly remarked, had already disgraced the name of American citizens, proceeded to disgrace the character of a soldier also,27
by stealing away under cover of the night, deserting, in the most cowardly manner, the soldierly Buckner
and the brave men who had defended the post.
In order to aid their flight, the latter allowed Forest to attempt to cut his way out with his cavalry.
In too much haste to save himself, Floyd
did not wait for all of his Virginians
to get ready to escape with him, but with a few of them, hastily collected, he embarked on a steamer at Dover
, followed by the curses and hisses of thousands on the shore, and fled to Nashville
sneaked away in the darkness, and, in perfect safety at his home in Columbia
, in Middle Tennessee
, he sat down a few days afterward to write a report to his indignant superiors.
Forest and his horsemen, about eight hundred in number, also escaped.
There is not in all history a meaner picture of the conduct of traitors than that afforded by the Council of War at Dover
, on Sunday morning, the 16th of February, 1862.
That Sunday morning dawned brightly upon the Union
At day-break, Wallace
prepared to storm the Confederate
intrenchments, and while making dispositions for that purpose, a bugle in the direction of the fort sounded a parley.
Dimly seen in the morning twilight was an officer with the bugler, bearing a white flag, and at the same time a similar flag was seen waving over the fort, in token of a willingness to surrender.
immediately rode to Buckner
The latter had posted a letter to Grant
, asking for the appointment of commissioners to agree upon terms of
capitulation, and suggesting an armistice until noon. Wallace
immediately sent word to Grant
was surrendered, and his troops were in possession of the town.
This made Grant
's reply to Buckner
short and explicit.
He considered Buckner
and his troops as simply rebels in arms, with no right to ask any terms excepting such as humanity required, so he said, “No terms other than unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.
I propose to move immediately upon your works.”
's reply irritated the helpless Buckner
, and, with folly equal to his chagrin, he answered, “The distribution of the forces under my command, incident to an unexpected change of commanders, and the overwhelming force under your command, compel me, notwithstanding the brilliant success
of the Confederate
arms yesterday, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose.”
This was followed by the speedy surrender of the fort, with thirteen thousand five hundred men, as prisoners of war (including the sick and wounded), a large proportion of whom were sent to Camp Douglas
, near Chicago
also three thousand horses, forty-eight field-pieces,
seventeen heavy guns, twenty thousand muskets, and a great quantity of military stores.30
On the following day, two regiments of Tennessee
troops, that came up to re-enforce the garrison, in ignorance of the surrender, were also made prisoners.
During the siege, the Confederates
had lost, it
was estimated, two hundred and thirty-seven killed, and one thousand and seven wounded. The National loss was estimated at four hundred and forty-six killed, one thousand seven hundred and forty-five wounded, and one hundred and fifty prisoners. The latter had been sent across the river, and were not re-captured.31
The victory at Fort Donelson
was of the greatest importance to the National
cause, and the official announcement of it,32
spreading with speed of lightning over the land, produced intense joy in every loyal bosom.
Cities were illuminated, heavy guns thundered forth National salutes; and every — where the flag of the Republic
was flung to the breeze, in token of profound satisfaction.
The news filled the conspirators with despair, and terribly depressed the spirits of the soldiers of the Confederate army.
By it Europe
was made to doubt the success of the rebellion; and at some courts it produced the first serious thoughts of abandoning the cause of the conspirators.
Its effect, in all relations, was similar to that of the capture of Burgoyne
and his army at Saratoga
, in 1777.
So powerful was the impression, that the Confederate Commissioners
abroad felt compelled to do all in their power to belittle the event, and, by taking advantage of the general deficiency of knowledge of American geography,33
to satisfy the ruling class that it was of no military importance whatever.
In that effort the Commissioners
the fall of Fort Donelson
caused emotions of mingled anger and dismay.
The loss of Roanoke Island
, a few days before, had greatly alarmed and irritated the conspirators; and now the chief of the Confederates
with as much dignity as possible, commented seriously on their calamities in a message to his “Congress.”
Official information had not reached him. “Enough is known,” he said, “of the surrender of Roanoke Island
to make us feel that it was deeply humiliating.”
Of the disaster at Fort Donelsonl, he said: “I am not only unwilling but unable to believe that a large army of our people has surrendered without a desperate effort to cut its way through the investing forces, whatever may have been their numbers, and to endeavor to make a junction with other divisions of the army.”
A little later, in transmitting to his “Congress” the reports of Floyd
, he said they were “incomplete and unsatisfactory.
It is not stated,” he said, “that re-enforcements were at any time asked for; nor is it demonstrated to have been impossible to have saved the troops by evacuating the position; nor is it known by what means it was found practicable to withdraw a part of the garrison, leaving the remainder to surrender; nor upon what authority or principle of action the senior generals abandoned responsibility by transferring the command to a junior officer.”
Notwithstanding General Johnston
attempted to gloss the cowardice of Floyd
, in the communication we are considering, said: “I have directed, upon the exhibition of the case as presented by the two senior Generals
, that they should be relieved from command, to await further orders, whenever a reliable judgment can be rendered on the merits of the case.”
himself, it has been charged since the close of the rebellion (for all spoke of him during the war with bated breath), was continually interfering in military affairs, and with the action of skillful commanders most mischievously.37
, and Wallace38
issued orders congratulating their victorious troops ;39
and General Halleck
, who had drawn from General
's Kansas Department some of the re-enforcements which he had sent to Grant
, said, in a letter to him,
“To you, more than to any other man out of this Department, are we indebted for our success at Fort Donelson
In my strait for troops to re-enforce General Grant
, I applied to you. You responded nobly, placing your forces at my disposition.”
The Secretaries of War
and of the Navy also issued congratulatory orders.
The Government and people were satisfied that a withering blow had been given to the rebellion, and that henceforth its proportions would be less, and its malignity not so dangerous to the life of the Republic
At Forts Henry
was successfully begun that army mail-service which was so admirably organized and so efficiently executed during the war by Colonel A. H. Markland
It was suggested to General Grant
by Colonel Markland
, who was the special agent
of the National
It was immediately adopted, and was ever afterward warmly cherished by that sagacious commander; and to him is justly due much of the credit of making it practically effective in blessing the officers and soldiers of the armies of the Republic
during the great struggle.
The perfection of the system was exhibited even so early as at the capture of Forts Henry
, and it never failed to give ample satisfaction to all, until the end of the war.40
The peculiar army mail-service organized under the auspices of General Grant
was finally extended to all Departments, and was managed by Colonel Markland
, who was made the general superintendent
of the mails of the armies of the Republic
Soldiers in camp or on the march, and even under the fire of the enemy, received letters from home with as much regularity as if they had been residents of a large city.
That system was not introduced into the Army of the Potomac while McClellan
commanded it. One much less perfect and efficient, which he found in operation, was continued.
That was established when the troops under the first call began to assemble around Washington
, in April and May, 1861.
The chaplain of each regiment was recognized as “regimental post-master,” and he usually called at the Washington City
Post-office for the army mail.
When the army was increased
and fully organized, the commanding officer
of each regiment selected a reliable man from the non-commissioned officers or privates to act as mail messenger, and that system was continued until the troops were called to the field in the spring of 1862.
Then the mails were “brigaded,” placed in canvas bags, labeled and addressed to the brigade, and forwarded to their destination by steamer or railway, under military authority.
The Post-office Department had no further control of the army mail after it left the post-office at Washington City
During the Peninsula
campaign, the mail for the Army of the Potomac was forwarded from Washington
by way of Baltimore
and Old Point
Comfort, the Potomac
being blockaded by shore batteries.
At the same time, the troops in the Shenandoah Valley were supplied with a mail service by way of Harper's Ferry
, the mails being sent under military control to that place, over the Baltimore and Ohio railway, and there furnished to the brigades when called for. Owing to the peculiar condition of affairs in that region, much of the time there was very little regularity in the delivery of the mails, and communication between the army and home was at times very uncertain.
The mails for these armies, and also for the Army of the James, were all distributed in the Post-office at Washington City
, where they were assorted into regiments, batteries, and independent commands.
Rosters, for the guidance of the postmaster at Washington
, were furnished when troops changed localities.
In his office boxes were prepared and labeled for the respective regiments; and at one time no less than eight hundred regiments and batteries, which extended over the seaboard to New Orleans, and the entire Shenandoah Valley, had the mail matter for them thus prepared for distribution.
After being thus sorted, these mails were delivered to authorized military agents, who attended to their transmission.
In this way hundreds of thousands of letters passed to and from the army daily.41
The regularity with which the great armies of Grant
, and others in the West
were supplied with mails, under the general superintendence of Colonel Markland
, was marvelous.
He and his assistants seemed to be almost ubiquitous.
No danger was so appalling, and no obstructions were so apparently insurmountable as to deter these messengers of good.
They endured all that the army endured-perils, fatigues, and privations.
The mail was nearly always in advance of the armies, or moving in a direction to meet them, and yet Colonel Markland
never lost one, by capture, over which he had personal control.
reached tide-water, after his march for the sea, the mail for his army was in readiness for distribution; and the
first vessel to reach King's Bridge
, on the Ogeechee River
, was the mail steamer.
Subsequently, when Sherman
marched through the Carolinas, and after the hard-fought battle of Bentonville
, he met the mail for his army on the evening of the day of that battle.42
That army mail-service presents to the contemplation of those who comprehend its extent and usefulness, one of the moral wonders of the great conflict; and in its salutary influence and value seems second only to the Sanitary Commission or the Christian Commission.
It kept entire armies in continual communion, as far as possible, with home and kindred — a circumstance of incalculable benefit to the soldier and the service.
It prevented that terrible home-sickness with which raw troops are often prostrated.
It also exercised the affections, and, in a remarkable degree, brought the sweet influences of the domestic circle to bear most powerfully in strengthening the men against the multiform temptations of the camp, and the yearnings for family joys which so often seduce the less favored soldier to desert; while courage and patriotism were continually stimulated by heroic words from patient and loving ones at home.
The writer visited the theater of events recorded in this chapter, early in May, 1866.
He left Nashville
in the steamer Tyrone
, toward the evening of the 5th.
Most of his fellow-passengers, as far as Clarksville
, sixty miles down the Cumberland River
, consisted of about two hundred colored soldiers, who had just been paid off and discharged from the service.
The few white passengers on board, and the officers and crew of the Tyrone
, who were mostly secessionists, were greatly relieved when these soldiers debarked at midnight, for the fearful massacre of negroes at Memphis
had just occurred, and they did not know what might be the temper of these troops on that account.
They were in dread of personal danger.
But there was no occasion for alarm.
The preparations made for surrendering the steamer to the soldiers, on demand, and taking the women and children ashore in the yawl-boat, as well as the more belligerent one for giving the negroes a shower of hot water from the boiler, in the event of an uprising, were quite unnecessary.
The writer, who mingled among and conversed with many of the soldiers, never saw a more orderly and well-disposed company of men, just loosed from military discipline, than they.
There was only one intoxicated man among them.
They were too full of joy to think of mischief.
The shores of the Cumberland
resounded with their songs and laughter, for
they were all happy in the thought of money in their pockets, and the greetings of friends at home.
lay at Clarksville
until daylight, when the writer had the opportunity to make a sketch of Fort Bruce and its vicinity, events at which will be considered presently.
We left there while breakfasting; and nearly all of that beautiful day we were voyaging on that winding and picturesque river, whose bosom and shores have been made historical by great events.
At about two o'clock in the afternoon we passed the ruins of the Cumberland Iron Works
, and at three o'clock we landed at the site of Dover
The little village, with its church, court-house, and almost one hundred dwellings and stores, when Fort Donelson43
was built, had disappeared.
The public buildings and most of the private ones had been laid in ashes during the war, and only a few dilapidated structures remained.
's tavern, near the landing-place (in which General Tilghman
had quartered), the writer was introduced to Captain James P. Flood
, the commander of the famous Flood
's Second Illinois Battery, who performed gallant service at Dover
, in repelling an attack by the cavalry of Forest and Wheeler
He had settled there as a lawyer, and was familiar with every foot of the battle-ground.
He kindly offered to accompany the writer to the points of interest in connection with the battle, and took him to the house of G. M. Stewart
, near the fort, an old and leading citizen of Stewart County
, who had been faithful to the old flag, and had suffered much for its sake during the war. Mr. Stewart
and his son (who had been in the Union
service) kindly offered to go over the field of conflict with us. He furnished saddle-horses for the whole company, and at twilight we had traversed the entire line of works, in front of which the divisions of McClernand
fought, and visited the Headquarters of General Grant
's extreme right, in Hysmith's old field, we found the grave-yard of the Illinois
troops, delineated on page 217. We followed the lines toward the center in their devious way through the woods, and clearings covered with sprouting oaks, and came to the burial-place of the dead of the Eleventh Illinois Regiment, similar in appearance to the other, and having a board in the center with the names of the killed upon it. Every — where the trees were terribly scarred by bullets, and cannon-shot and shell, giving evidence of the severity of the battle.
All through these woods and openings, we found the detached lines of the Confederate
intrenchments half concealed by the already rank growth of grass, and bushes shoulder high, and blackberry shrubs and vines, then white with blossoms.
Nature was rapidly hiding from view these evidences of man's iniquity.
's Headquarters, as we have observed, were at the house of Mrs. Crisp
, a short distance from the road leading from Dover
to Fort Henry
. Mrs. Crisp
, a stout, kind-hearted, good-natured old lady, was still there, and refreshed us with a draught of the finest spring water.
She did not approve of National troops in general, but had most pleasant recollections of General Grant
and his staff.
She committed to our keeping kind
compliments to the General
, and then, at almost sunset, we bade her farewel, and galloped back toward Dover
, diverging to the left to visit Fort Donelson
, and sketch the scene of the battle on the river between the armed vessels and the water-batteries.
The sun was just setting behind some thin clouds when we arrived there, and it was soon too dark to allow the use of the pencil.
So we rode to Dover
, supped with Mr. Stewart
, and lodged at Cooley
Wishing to take passage on the first steamer that should pass up the Cumberland
the next morning, the writer arose at dawn, and found Mr. Stewart
, as previously arranged, ready, with two saddle-horses, to visit the fort.
We breakfasted before sunrise, and then rode over the lines of the famous stronghold on which the Confederates
had spent so much labor, and placed so much dependence.
These, too, were half hidden by shrubbery and vines, and in the course of a very few years it will be difficult to trace the
outlines of these fortifications.
Between these and Dover
, we visited a strong work on a commanding eminence, built by the National
troops under the direction of Captain Flood
and others, but which was never made use of. From the hill overlooking the water batteries I made the accompanying sketch, and had just finished it when a steamer came in sight below, at the point where Foote
's armored vessels, ranged in a line, assailed the Confederate
Remounting our horses, we hurried back to Dover
there just as the steamer was moored at the gravelly bank.
It was the Emma Floyd
, one of the most agreeable boats on the Cumberland
, and with its intelligent pilots, John and Oliver Kirkpatrick
, and their wives and children, the writer spent most of the day in the pilot-house, listening to the stories of the adventures of these men while they were acting as pilots in the fleets of Farragut
, during those marvelous expeditions on the Mississippi
, its tributaries, and its mysterious bayous, carried on in connection with the armies of Grant
After a delightful voyage of twenty-four hours, we arrived at Nashville
, where the writer was joined by his former traveling companions, Messrs. Dreer
, of Philadelphia
, with whom he afterward journeyed for six weeks upon the pathways and battle-fields of the great armies in Tennessee
, and Virginia
The aspect of Nashville
, and especially its surroundings, had materially changed since the author was there in 1861.
The storm of war had swept (over the country in its vicinity with fearful effect.
The city itself had not suffered bombardment, yet at times it had been in imminent danger of such calamity; first on the approach of the forces of Grant
, and after-ward when it was held by the National
troops and was threatened by the Confederates
The hills had been stripped of their forests, pleasure-grounds had been robbed of their shade-trees, and places of pleasant resort had been scarred by trenches or disfigured by breastworks.
Buildings had been shattered by shot and shell or laid in ruins by fire; and at every approach to the city were populous cemeteries of soldiers who had fallen in defense of their country.
In the Capitol
were stores of correspondence and other papers captured from Pillow
and his fellow-traitors, and these were placed at the disposal of the author, who also had the good fortune to meet in Nashville General Ewell
, one of the most estimable of the Confederates
who took up arms against the Government
, as a man and as a military leader.
He kindly allowed him to make abstracts of his later reports, in manuscript, concerning operations in the Shenandoah Valley, in which he and “Stonewall Jackson
” were associated, and also furnished him with information relative to the evacuation of Richmond
, and the destruction of a great portion of it by fire immediately succeeding that event, when Ewell
was in command of the post.
That subject will be considered hereafter.
Tail-piece — bomb-shell.|