« PreviousContinue »
in fine order across the intervening ravines, and younted. with the coolness of veterans the steep hight on which the.. redoubt stood. The enemy, screened behind their-embank ments, poured into the exposed ranks a terrible fire of ketry-still the brave Illinoisans steadily advancedBut at this critical juncture it was found that the line was not long, enough to envelop the works, and the Forty-fifth was ordered to their support. While these movements were being carried out; the enemy threw forward strong reinforcements of men and field artillery, which soon swept the advancing line with murderous effect. But onward pressed those undaunted regiments ---leaving their dead and wounded strewing the , slope--till they came to the foot of the works, where a fringe of long poles and brushwood presented a , tangled wall of , jagged points, through which no troops under Heaven could. force their way in the face of sạch a fire. Braver, officers never led men to death, but they found they had been sent to accomplish an impossible work, and gave the reluctant order to fall back. Colonel Morrison commanding the Forty-> ninth Illinois, was wounded, and many brave officers fell in this attempt, :which is certainly open to criticism.
The troops lay down in point-blank, rifle range of the enemy; without tents or fire. At dark, a cold, heavy rain began to fall, which soon turned into sleet and snow., accompanied by fierce gusts of wintry wind. It was a night of great hardship and suffering, yet it was borne without a murmur by these indomitable men, who were about to give a world.. wide reputation to their state. The sharp sound of picket firing was heard during the pauses of the storm, while muffled murmurg rising through the thick air in front showed that the enemy were receiviug heavy reinforcements. a
For twelvę. long hours the men lay in the cold, pelting, storm; cheerful, not because the day would bring repose and. comòfort, bụt because it would, usher in the deadly combating
DESCRIPTION OF THE FORT.
when they would teach rebels how freemen could strike for the land they loved.
The works before them were but imperfectly known to the officers, though it was certain they were of the most formidable character. On the river side were two batteries the lower one mounting eight thirty-two-pounders and a ten inch columbiad—the upper, thirty feet above this, two thirtytwo-pound carronades and a thirty-two-pound rifled gun, which completely commanded the river. The main fort was in the rear and occupied a high ridge, cut on the south by a deep gorge. In front of it run a line of rifle pits, protected in turn by fallen trees and brush, cut and bent over breast high, making an almost impassable obstruction. The cannon mounted on the hights behind these, swept the whole country for miles. Establishing a line parallei to the enemy's, Grant gradually extended his wings to the right and left towards the river, so as to completely encircle them.
While the process of investment was thus going on, Foote on the fourteenth advanced to the attack with his gun boats. With his four iron-clads in front and two wooden ones in the rear, he moved steadily up towards the batteries, and as soon as he came within range, opened with his heavy
But little fear was feli for the vessels, for the Carondelet had gone up the day before on a reconnoissance, and single handed engaged all the batteries, maiutaining her ground till she had fired over a hundred shots, and receiving but little damage, except from one enormous shot which happened to enter one of her forward ports, wounding eight men.
The boats therefore moved without hesitation into the fire, --steering straight for the batteries. When they got within close range the fire became terrific. The enemy's guns were well served, and their heavy metal smote the advancing boats with tremendous force. The water was plowed
A SERIOUS ACCIDENT.
up in every direction, and the air filled with the scream-
a half. the flag-ship alone having received fifty-nine shots. Under the horrible fire that smote it, Foote saw that the pilot was getting nervous, and advancing, laid his hand on his shoulder and spoke encouragingly, when at that moment a shot struck the poor fellow, leaving him a mangled corse. Foote himself was wounded in the foot, but still limped around on his deck, giving his orders coolly as though taking soundings. He had now got within four hundred yards of the bitteries, and their fire began to slacken under the heavy rain of shells that momentarily exploded in their midst, and the victory seemed about to be won, when a shot' carried a way the wheel of the Louisville. There was a tiller aît which the pilot instantly seized, but he had hardly fetched the bow back to its place as it was swinging off before tie s rift current, when an accidental shot from her own consort, the Tyler, smöte it, knocking it into fragments. The helpless boat then swung backward, and began to drift out of the fire. The wheel of the flag-ship St. Louis was also shot away, and she became unmanageable, while the other two boats were seriously disabled, and soon floated down the current with the rest.
Tifty-four on our side had been killed and wounded in this desperate fight, while no perceptible damage had been inflicted on the enemy. The water battery, it is true, had been pretty effectually silenced, but the guns on the bluff above were too high to be reached from the decks of the boats, and it was evident if the place was to be captured it must be done by the land forces alone.
A REBEL CONSULTATION.
The comparative ease with which the gun boats had disposed of fort Henry, had created the utmost confidence in their
power to demolish, at least, the river batteries of fort Donelson-also. But for the singular accidents that befel the St. Louis and Louisville, rendering them totally unmanage. able in the swift current of the Cumberland, Foote believed that in fifteen minutes more he would have accomplished this. Be this as it may, the attack by water had failed, and the disabled boats could not be put in condition for a second attempt for many days. Grant then determined to complete the investment, and wait till they should be ready to co-operate with him. With his superior numbers he could do this, and in time starve out the garrison, and this was what they feared. Floyd was in chief command of the fort, and Pillow and Buckner next in rank. The former immediately called a consultation of the officers to determine under the circumstances what course it was best to take. After full deliberation, it was resolved that only one was left open to them offering any chance of success, and that was, to break through our lines up the river, and so escape to the open country towards Nashville,
SORT DONELSON THE ENEMY ATTEMPT TO CUT THEIR WAY OUT-PARTIAL
SUCCESS--PREVENTED BY GËN, WALLACE-GRANT ARRIVES ON THE FIELD
N pursuance of the plan adopted, Floyd concentrated his main force
his left on Friday night, and placed it under the command of Pillow, with orders to attack McClernand, who commanded our right wing, early in the morning. Buckner in the mean time was to fall on Gen. Wallace, who held the center, and open, if possible, the “Wynne road" that led back into the country. Only a small force was left to watch General Smith, who commanded our left wing, which, resting on the river below the fort, completed our semicircular line of investment
CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON.
Friday hað been a cold, bleak day, and the ground was covered with snow, but Saturday dawned damp and chill, and the soldiers as they were roused from their wintry couch moved stiff and shivering to their places in the ranks. But in a few moments, snow and frost were alike forgotten as the heavy roar of the enemy's guns broke over the wooded fields. Seven or eight thousand strong, the enemy moved out of their works at daylight, and in separate columns, sup