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The Situation in Tennessee and Kentucky.-The affair at Woodsonville.-Death of Colonel Terry.-The Strength and Material of the Federal Force in Kentucky.-Condition of the Defences on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.-The Confederate Congress and the Secretary of the Navy.-The Fall of Fort Henry.-Fort Donelson threatened.-The Army of General A. S. Johnston.-His Interview with General Beauregard.-Insensibility of the Confederate Government to the Exigency.-General Johnston's Plan of Action.-BATTLE OF FORT DONELSON.-Carnage and Scenery of the Battle-field. The Council of the Southern Commanders.-Agreement to surrender. -Escape of Generals Floyd and Pillow.-The Fall of Fort Donelson develops the Crisis in the West.-The Evacuation of Nashville.-The Panic.-Extraordinary Scenes. Experience of the Enemy in Nashville.-The Adventures of Captain John Morgan.-General Johnston at Murfreesboro.-Organization of a New Line of Defence South of Nashville.-The Defence of Memphis and the Mississippi.-Island No. 10.Serious Character of the Disaster at Donelson.-Generals Floyd and Pillow "relieved from Command."-General Johnston's Testimony in favor of these Officers.— President Davis's Punctilio.-A sharp Contrast.-Negotiation for the Exchange of Prisoners.-A Lesson of Yankee Perfidy.-Mr. Benjamin's Release of Yankee Hostages.
THE unequivocal demonstrations of the Federals for an advance upon Tennessee through Kentucky, urged the Confederate government to send all the disposable forces at its command to strengthen the army of the southwestern division. Near the close of the year 1861, the Floyd Brigade and several regiments belonging to Tennessee and other Confederate States were sent from Virginia to Bowling Green, in southern Kentucky, the principal strategic point of the southwestern army. The command of that army was given, as we have seen, to General Albert Sidney Johnston.
Early in December, the Federal army occupied Muldraugh's Hill, Elizabethtown, Nolin, Bacon's Creek, and other points on the railroad, from forty to sixty miles below Louisville. Later in that month, a body of them advanced to Munfordville, on Green River, about seventy-five miles below Louisville, and about thirty-five miles above Bowling Green. A portion of this advance crossed the river at Munfordville to Woodsonville on the opposite shore, where they were attacked by the advance Confederate forces under Brig.-general Hindman and defeated, with a loss of about fifty killed. The Confederates lost four
killed and nine wounded. Their conduct was marked by the most impetuous valor. On charging the enemy, Col. Terry, of the Texas Rangers, was killed in the moment of victory. In the death of Col. Terry, said General Hardee, in his official report, "his regiment had to deplore the loss of a beloved and brave commander, and the whole army one of its ablest officers." His name was placed in the front rank of the gallant sons of Texas, whose daring and devoted courage had added to the lustre of our arms and to the fruits of more than one victory.
The fight at Woodsonville was on the 17th of December. When the enemy reached that place in force, the Confederates fell back some fifteen or twenty miles, in the direction of Bowling Green. For some weeks thereafter, the whole South was excited with reports to the effect that the Federals were advancing upon Bowling Green in three columns, of 20,000 each. But the unanticipated success of the Federals in two important movements at other points within the department of General Johnston, enabled them to accomplish their object without an attack upon Bowling Green, and forced upon the Confederates the necessity of evacuating that post.
The North had collected an immense army in Kentucky, under command of Major-general Buell, a general of great skill, remarkable for the caution of his operations, but having with this quality the rare combination of energy, courage, and unwearied activity. The whole force of the Federals in Kentucky consisted of about one hundred thousand infantry, eleven thousand cavalry, and three thousand artillerists, divided into some twenty odd batteries. It is remarkable that this immense army was composed almost entirely of Western men, and that the "Yankee" proper was scarcely represented in its ranks. Of the Eastern States, only Pennsylvania had troops in Kentucky, and those comparatively few. Every Western State, with the exception of Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, was represented by more or less regiments.
A large force of the Federals had been collected at Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee river, with a view to offensive operations on the water. This river was an important stream. It penetrated Tennessee and Alabama, and was navigable for steamers for two or three hundred miles. The Provisional
Congress, at Richmond, had appropriated half a million dol lars for floating defences on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers; but owing to the notorious inefficiency of the Navy Department, presided over by Mr. Mallory of Florida, who was remarkable for his obtuseness, slow method, and indifferent intellect, and whose ignorance even of the geography of Kentucky and Tennessee had been broadly travestied in Congress, both rivers were left open to the incursions of the enemy. On the Tennessee there was nothing to resist the enemy's advance up the stream but a weak and imperfectly constructed fort. The Cumberland was a still more important river, and the key to Nashville; but nothing stood in the way of the enemy save Fort Donelson, and from that point the Federal gunboats could reach Nashville in six or eight hours, and strike a vital point of our whole system of defences in the West.
On the 4th of February, the enemy's expedition up the Tennessee, under Gen. Grant, arrived at Fort Henry, the only fortification on the Tennessee river of any importance, situated near the lines of Kentucky and Tennessee, on the east bank of the stream. On the morning of the 6th, the fort was attacked.
Our works were untenable, but it concerned us to save our little army. To defend the position at the time, Gen. Tilghman, commanding division, had Col. Heiman's 10th Tennessee, Irish volunteers, eight hundred strong; Col. Drake's Mississippi volunteers, four hundred strong; Col. Hughes' Alabama volunteers, five hundred strong; and Lieut.-col. Gantt's Tennessee volunteers, cavalry, three hundred strong; one company of light artillery, commanded by Lieut. Culbertson, Confederate States artillery, and Captain Jesse Taylor's company of artillery, sixty strong, forming the garrison of Fort Henry, and manning its batteries of nine or ten guns.
A sudden rise in the river found Fort Henry, on the morning of the attack, completely surrounded by water, containing only Capt. Taylor's company of artillery. The two thousand men of all arms, who formed Gen. Tilghman's command, were half a mile off, beyond a sheet of back-water. Gen. Grant's army was on the direct road, between them and Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland, and within two miles of the fort, and
already in motion to invest it. It was an embarrassing ques tion to determine what was to be done. Gen. Tilghman's little army was in the jaws of the lion, and the question was, how could it be extricated.
Gen. Tilghman at once solved the problem, by ordering it to retreat by the upper route. He remained with his sixty men in the fort, where he was surrounded by water, and unable to get away.
A few minutes before the surrender, the scene in and around the fort exhibited a spectacle of fierce grandeur. Many of the cabins and tents in and around the fort were in flames: added to the scene were the smoke from the burning timber, and the curling but dense wreaths of smoke from the guns; the constantly recurring spattering and whizzing of fragments of crashing and bursting shells; the deafening roar of artillery; the black sides of five or six gunboats, belching fire at every port-hole; the volumes of smoke settled in dense masses along the surrounding back-waters; and up and over that fog, on the heights, the army of Gen. Grant (10,000) deploying around our small army, attempting to cut off its retreat. In the midst of the storm of shot and shell, the small force outside of the fort had succeeded in gaining the upper road, the gunboats having failed to notice their movements until they were out of reach.
To give them further time, the gallant Tilghman, exhausted and begrimed with powder and smoke, stood erect at the middle battery, and pointed gun after gun. It was clear, however, that the fort could not hold out much longer. A white flag was raised by the order of Gen. Tilghman, who remarked, "it is vain to fight longer; our gunners are disabled; our guns dismounted; we can't hold out five minutes longer." As soon as the token of submission was hoisted, the gunboats came alongside the fort and took possession of it, their crews giving three cheers for the Union. Gen. Tilghman and the small garrison of forty were taken prisoners.
The fall of Fort Henry was the signal for the direction of the most anxious attention to Fort Donelson, on the Cumber land.
We have noticed before the extreme inadequacy of Gen. Johnston's forces. It is doubtful whether he ever had over
23,000 effective troops at Bowling Green. Of these, after reinforcing Fort Donelson, he had scarcely more than eleven thousand effective men. Shortly after the disaster at Mill Springs, Gen. Beauregard had been sent from the Potomac to Gen. Johnston's line in Kentucky. At a conference which took place between the two generals, Gen. Beauregard expressed his surprise at the smallness of Gen. Johnston's forces, and was impressed with the danger of his position. There is nothing more remarkable in the history of the war than the false impressions of the people of the South as to the extent of our forces at the principal strategic point in Kentucky, and the long and apathetic toleration, by the government in Richmond, of a prospect that promised nothing but eventual disaster. On establishing himself in Bowling Green early in October, General Johnston wrote to the War Department: "We have received but little accession to our ranks since the Confederate forces crossed the line-in fact, no such enthusiastic demonstration as to justify any movements not warranted by our ability to maintain our own communications." He repeatedly called upon the government for reinforcements. He made & call upon several States of the Southwest, including Tennessee, for large numbers of troops. The call was revoked at the instance of the authorities in Richmond, who declined to furnish twelve months' volunteers with arms; and Gen. Johnston, thus discouraged and baffled by a government which was friendly enough to him personally, but insensible to the public exigency for which he pleaded, was left in the situation of imminent peril, in which Gen. Beauregard was so surprised to find him.
A memorandum was made of the conference between the two generals. In the plans of Gen. Johnston, Gen. Beauregard entirely concurred. It was determined to fight for Nashville at Donelson, and Gen. Johnston gave the best part of his army to do it, retaining only, to cover his front, fourteen thousand men, about three thousand of whom were so enfeebled by recent sickness that they were unable to march.
BATTLE OF FORT DONELSON.
On the 9th February, Gen. Pillow had been ordered to pro