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FORT DONELSON.

264

[SECT. X.

the work.

and then surrenders at Donelson. For the sake of giving time for his garrison to make good its escape, he continued his hopeless resistance, and surrendered himself prisoner along with his artillerists.

Fort Henry thus secured, General Halleck next turned his attention to Fort Donelson. Re-enforce

for at

tacking Fort Donel- ments were therefore rapidly brought from Buell's army, and also from St. Louis, Cairo,

son.

Cincinnati, and Kansas.

son.

The Tennessee and Cumberland, as they approach the Position of Donel. Ohio, run northward and nearly parallel to each other. Fort Donelson was about forty miles above the mouth of the Cumberland, and on its west bank. It was a large field-work of a hundred acres, near the town of Dover, on a bluff rising by a gentle

slope from the river, at the point where the stream turns from its westerly course. The height of the bluff is about 100 feet. The strength of the work was directed toward the river, which it effectually commanded; on the land side it was comparatively weak. The entire artillery, including light batteries, was 65 pieces. The eventual strength of the garrison was 21,000. The surrounding country was rugged, hilly, and heavily wooded. Round the works timber had been felled, and small trees half chopped off formed an abatis. Two creeks, flooded by the rains, formed defenses on the right and left.,

Defenses and
strength of the
fort.

As soon as it became clear that the fort was about to be attacked from the land side, the Confederate commanders exerted themselves to strengthen it. A fortified line two miles and a half in length, inclosing the town of Dover, was drawn along the commanding high grounds. Re-enforcements were sent from Bowling Green by the railroad, and the work pushed on day and night. The garrison of Fort Henry came in on the 7th, the command

CHAP. XLIX.] OPERATIONS AGAINST FORT DONELSON.

265

of Pillow arrived on the 10th, that of Buckner on the 11th, that of Floyd on the 13th. Floyd, as the senior officer, was in command.

Grant moved from Fort Henry upon Donelson, with about 15,000 men, on Wednesday, the 12th. He had been obliged to submit to this delay to give time for preparing the gun-boats, though every hour of it was strengthening the enemy. His foremost brigade went by the telegraph road; the others by the Dover Road. He was before the fort in the afternoon of that day, and spent the remaining daylight in bringing his troops into position. Batteries were posted and the movement completed in the night. It was his intention, if the gun-boats should arrive, to make an attack next morning. His force consisted of the division of McClernand, containing the four brigades of Oglesby, W. H. L. Wallace, McArthur, Morrison; the division of C. F. Smith, containing the three brigades of Cook, Lauman, and M. L. Smith. The division of Lewis Wallace did not arrive until the 14th. Smith's division was to be on the left, Lewis Wallace's at the centre, McClernand's on the right. He formed his first line opposite the enemy's centre, his left resting on Hickman Creek, his right reaching not quite round to Dover. The advance was very difficult on account of a growth of dwarf oaks.

McClernand's pre

Though the gun-boats had not arrived, a cannonade was opened. McClernand made an attack mature assault. on a battery commanding the ridge road on which Grant moved. He met with a repulse in his attempt to carry it. There was a bitter storm of hail and snow after dark, yet the troops bivouacked in line of battle. They had no tents and no fires; many of them were without blankets. The cries of the wounded calling for water were heard all that night.

At midnight six gun-boats and fourteen transports had

Grant prepares to

attack it.

266

[SECT. X.

arrived, the latter bringing Lewis Wallace's division, and giving Grant a superiority of force. Up to this time he had not been as strong as the Confederates. It took longer than had been anticipated to get these troops into position, and the consequence was that the attack on Friday had to be mainly carried on by the boats.

Of the gun-boats four were iron-clad, the remaining two wooden. The former opened their fire and advanced until they were within three hundred yards of the Confederate batteries, which, up to this time silent, were now vigorously worked. Their plunging fire, for they were elevated about thirty feet, soon told heavily on the boats. For an hour and a half the contest was maintained, when the steering apparatus of two was disabled, and they drifted down the stream. The others were compelled to withdraw. They had a loss of 54 killed and wounded; among the latter was Commodore Foote. In the Confederate batteries no one was killed, and the works were uninjured.

Thus the attack from the river, as well as McClernand's partial attempt from the land side, had failed, and appar. ently it had become necessary for the national commanders to have re-enforcements.

Arrival of the gunboats.

They are defeated.

DEFEAT OF THE GUN-BOATS.

But Floyd had taken alarm. He had seen that heavy re-enforcements, Lewis Wallace's division, had that day arrived; he considered that, notwithstanding his success in beating off the gun-boats, there was no place within his intrenchments that could not be reached by the enemies' artillery fire from their boats or their batteries, and that there was nothing to prevent them from passing a column above him on the river, and thus cutting off his only remaining communication that by water-and preventing the possibility of egress. He therefore summon

Floyd becomes alarmed.

He summons a council.

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CHAP. XLIX.]

267

ed a council that evening, at which it was determined to abandon the fort, force a way past Grant's right, and es cape to Nashville.

SORTIE OF THE GARRISON.

It determines to

At that time, owing to the high water of the river, there was but one practicable road-Wynn's Ferry Road. Between it and the river lay the division of McClernand, the national right wing. The Confederate operation, therefore, was to throw their left, Pillow's make a sortie. division, against the national right flank, McClernand's, and, with Buckner's division drawn from their right, and leaving there only a weak force, to attack the right of the national centre, which was upon the Wynn's Ferry Road. If Pillow could force back the national right upon the centre, and Buckner take the disor dered mass in flank, it was expected that the whole would be rolled back on the left-McClernand upon Wallace, and both upon Smith-and that the Wynn's Ferry Road would be opened.

On Wednesday night the air had been warm and ge nial; the sky was cloudless, the moon at full. On the night of Thursday the weather changed; there was a storm of sleet and snow. On Friday night it was intensely cold; the thermometer had fallen to 10° Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, the Confederates got ready to execute their desperate undertaking on Saturday morning at five o'clock, an hour before day.

cessful.

At first fortune favored the boldly conceived and braveIt is at first suc- ly executed attempt. The Confederates' left forced from their position the two national right brigades. Meantime Buckner, who had brought his troops over from the Confederate right, assaulted the third right national brigade, at first ineffectually, but at length, stimulated by Pillow's results, successfully. NevThe national right ertheless, McClernand's troops did not retreat until their ammunition was exhausted.

wing forced back.

SUCCESS OF THE SORTIE.

268

[SECT. X.

At nine o'clock Grant's right wing had been completely pressed from its ground and the Wynn's Ferry Road opened. The Confederates might now have escaped.

All this occurred during the absence of Grant. He had gone on board a gun-boat at 2 A.M. to consult with Commodore Foote, who had been wounded, and had asked for this consultation. Already Lewis Wallace, who was holding Grant's centre, had sent one of his brigades to the assistance of the defeated right wing, but with no other result than to participate in their disaster. With his remaining brigade, however, he presented a firm front at right angles to his former one, and behind this the defeated troops of the right wing rallied and reformed.

Against this the Confederates, flushed with success, but not altogether without confusion, advanced. They were received with such a fire that they instantly broke, and, on making a second attempt, broke again. This time they could not be rallied.

Grant had now come on the field. It was about nine o'clock. Though the battle had lulled, evDecision of Grant. ery thing was in confusion. The troops were scattered in knots. At a glance he appreciated the disaster and took his resolve. "On riding upon the field, I saw that either side was ready to give way if the other showed a bold front. I took the opportunity, and ordered an advance of the whole line." Smith, with the left wing, was to storm the enemy's works in his front, Wallace to recover the ground that had been lost on the right. A request was sent to the gun-boats to make a vigorous demonstration.

The removal of Buckner from Smith's front for the early attack in the morning had greatly weakened the right of the Confederate line. Buckner, therefore, was now ordered back. But it was too late. The storming column, with Smith at its head, was steadily and irresist

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