Page images
PDF
EPUB

until the evening of the 14th. The interval was improved by the troops first on the ground in driving in the rebel skirmishers and commencing regular lines of investment. The weather was bitterly cold, and the troops, inadequately supplied with shelter or food, suffered severely; but not a murmur was heard, and the men cheerfully bivouacked at night on the snow-clad ground, in the confident expectation that in a day or two the rebel stronghold would be theirs. As at Fort Henry in the previous week, Flag-officer Foote, without waiting for the co-operation of the land forces, proceeded on the afternoon of the 14th to open fire upon the river batteries of Fort Donelson. For an hour and a half the gunboats poured a steady stream of shot and shell into the batteries, which, being fully manned, replied with vigor and effect. Gradually, however, their fire began to slacken, and the prospect of capturing or completely silencing the works seemed flattering, when two shots, discharged with fatal accuracy, disabled the steering apparatus of the flag-ship St. Louis, and the Louisville, which in consequence became unmanageable, and drifted out of fire. The enemy immediately returned to their guns, and the remaining vessels, deprived of the services of their two most powerful consorts, were obliged to haul off, considerably shattered by the hard pounding they had received. In this action Foote was severely injured in the ankle by the fragment of a sixty-four pounder shot, and his ship was struck sixty-one times.

The morning of the 15th dawned cold and dull, and so soon as sufficient light was afforded for the movement, the rebels, without a moment's notice, threw out a heavy column of infantry, supported by two batteries, upon the Federal right, commanded by General McClernand. The onset at first was irresistible, and the regiments which attempted to withstand it were broken and routed. For several hours the rebels continued to gain ground, but finally, as fresh Federal regiments and batteries were brought up, the tide was turned, and the enemy pushed back towards their intrenchments. Undismayed by the repulse of the gunboats and the vigor which the rebels showed by this sally, General Grant soon after noon ordered his left, under command of General C. F. Smith, to make a general assault upon the rebel intrenchments, which, in consequence of the enemy having massed on the Federal right, he wisely judged would be the more easily carried. At three P. M., Smith moved forward at the head of ten regiments, and sending his main body somewhat to the right, to divert attention from the real point of attack, detailed the Second and Seventh Iowa and the Fifty-Second Indiana regiments to storm a line of rifle-pits on the crest of a steep hill, about half a mile distant from the fort. The storming column, headed by himself, pressed impetuously up the hill in the teeth of a severe fire, and never pausing, burst over the intrenchments, from which the enemy fled in confusion. Federal re-enforcements arriving soon after, the ground thus gallantly won was secured beyond the possibility of recapture. Meanwhile on the right and centre a division under General Wallace, encouraged by the success on the left, advanced against the rebel rifle-pits in that quarter, and after a stubborn resistance drove the enemy completely

177

within his works. So favorable did the prospect now seem that the troops clamored to be led to the final assault; but as day was closing, it was deemed prudent to postpone this until the next day. Another bivouac on the frozen ground had little effect in weakening the enthusiasm of the troops, who at dawn of the 16th sprang to their arms, in the expectation of being led at once against the fort. But before hostilities could be resumed a flag of truce arrived proposing an armistice until noon, and the appointment of commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation. By the departure of Generals Floyd and Pillow during the night with two thousand five hundred men, the fort had been left in command of General Buckner, the former commander of the Kentucky State Guard. To this officer General Grant returned the following reply:

HISTORY OF THE GREAT REBELLION.

"HEAD-QUARTERS ON THE FIELD, FORT DONELSON,
"February 16, 1862.

"To GENERAL S. B. BUCKNER:

"SIR:-Yours of this date, proposing an armistice and the appointment of commissioners to settle on the terms of capitulation, is just received.

"No terms, except unconditional and immediate surrender, can be acceptable.
"I propose to move immediately on your works.

"I am very respectfully your obedient servant,
"U. S. GRANT, Brigadier-General Commanding."

To this General Buckner replied as follows:

"HEAD-QUARTERS, DOVER (TENNESSEE),
"February 16, 1862.

"BRIGADIER-GENERAL U. S. GRANT, U. S. ARMY:

"SIR: The distribution of 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, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose.

"I am, sir, your servant,

"S. B. BUCKNER, Brigadier-General C. S. Army."

The fort was accordingly at once given up to the Federal commander, and the rebel garrison, numbering nearly fourteen thousand men, marched out as prisoners of war. Their loss in killed and wounded was one thousand two hundred and thirty-eight, and that of the Federal troops two thousand one hundred and eighty-one, besides one hundred and fifty taken prisoners. Among the spoils were seventeen heavy guns, over forty field-pieces, many thousand stand of arms, horses, commissary stores, &c. This first important success of the Federal arms since the commencement of the war infused universal joy into the loyal people of the North, and laid the foundation of General Grant's fame. His reply to Buckner has become historical, while the latter's rejoinder afforded an amusing illustration of that spurious chivalry which the Southern leaders were wont to cultivate.

The blow was a most disastrous one to the enemy, not only in its material, but in its moral results. The city of Nashville was incapable of defence, and strong forces were advancing from Bowling Green and up the Cumberland. Nashville was therefore ordered to be abandoned, and at Murfreesborough, the broken columns of Critten

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

den coming from Mill Spring, and the fugitives from Donelson and Bowling Green, were formed on the main body brought from Nashville, and the whole ultimately united with Bragg's corps at Corinth, in North-eastern Mississippi, by a very hazardous march, to co-operate with Beauregard for the defence of the Mississippi.

Meantime, the Union forces poured on. Commodore Foote, with two gunboats, reached Clarksville, the last defensible place before Nashville. He found it evacuated, the enemy having burned the railroad bridge. General Buell with his army advanced on Nashville from Bowling Green, and General Nelson proceeded by the way of the Cumberland River. On the 16th, the troops that had evacuated Bowling Green passed through the city, and on the same day Floyd arrived from Donelson, when, for the first time, the inhabitants learned the fall of that place. The Governor and Legislature at once departed for Memphis, carrying off the public archives; gunboats in process of construction were burned, railroad bridges destroyed, and the public stores were distributed to those who wished them. On the 19th, Governor Harris issued a proclamation announcing the fall of Donelson, and calling upon every able-bodied man to enlist in the army. On the morning of the 23d, Buell's advance guard appeared at Edgehill, opposite Nashville. General Nelson also arrived up the river, and on the 25th the city was surrendered by the mayor, on assurances that persons and property would be respected. On the 26th the mayor issued a proclamation assuring citizens of protection from the National forces, and urging them to resume their usual occupations. Afer the occupation of the capital of Tennessee, and the flight of its Government, a new one was organized, and Senator Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor, with the rank of brigadier-general. These events in the interior of the State made the longer occupation of Columbus by the Confederate troops useless, and it was evacuated on the 27th of February. On the 2d of March, a reconnoitring party, sent by Flag-officer Foote from Cairo, discovered the evacuation, and, on their report, a force was sent to take possession, but a party of Illinois cavalry sent from Paducah by General Sherman had already occupied it. The enemy fell back to Island No. 10, forty miles below Columbus. Thus, during the two months ending with February, the enemy had been driven from their positions in Kentucky and Tennessee. The army of Marshall took refuge in Virginia; and the shattered remains of all the others were combining to make a new stand at Corinth.

After General Hunter, in November, assumed command in Missouri, and repudiated the treaty of General Fremont with Price, the Union army began slowly to retire from Springfield, and was followed step by step by the Confederates under Price, in three divisions, with the apparent intention of moving upon Kansas. On the 30th of November, his right wing, five thousand troops, held Stockton; his left, four thousand, under General Rains, was at Nevada; and the centre, five thousand, under Price, at Monticello. Early in November, the Confederates held Belmont, Missouri, opposite Columbus, with a small force, and it was determined to make a demonstration in that direction,

for the purpose of preventing them from sending troops to Price on the one hand, or to Bowling Green on the other. Accordingly, on November 6th, Generals Grant and McClernand left Cairo for Belmont, with the Twenty-second, Twenty-seventh, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Illinois, and the Seventh Iowa, together with a battery and some cavalry-in all, two thousand eight hundred and fifty men, who were embarked on several steamboats, and convoyed by the gunboats Lexington and Tyler.

The Federal forces landed a short distance above Belmont, at 8 A. M. on the 7th, were formed in line of battle, and immediately attacked the rebel works. They were met by the rebels under General Cheatham, whom they drove through their camp, capturing a battery of twelve guns, burning their camp, and taking the rebel baggage, horses, and many prisoners. Large bodies of rebels, meanwhile, crossed from Columbus and re-enforced those at Belmont, when another severe fight took place, and the National forces withdrew to their boats. Their retreat was well covered by the gunboats. The whole action lasted several hours. The loss on the Confederate side was between six hundred and one thousand; on that of the Union, eighty-four killed, and about three hundred wounded and missing. The Unionists also carried away two guns, and destroyed two. This operation had the desired effect of preventing the movement of troops to aid Price.

On the 18th of November, General H. W. Halleck arrived at St. Louis, and took command of the Western Department. The division of General Hunter and that of General Pope were on the line of the Pacific Railroad, awaiting orders. Generals Sigel and Asboth, with their divisions, arrived at St. Louis. General Hunter was transferred to the Department of Kansas. The plan of General Price, whose chief difficulty was want of arms, was to procure them from the borders of Kansas; but being unsuccessful in this, he was obliged to retreat south of the Osage. General Halleck soon after issued a series of military orders, which declared that active rebels and spies had forfeited their rights as citizens, and were liable to capital punishment; all persons in arms against the Government, or aiding the enemy, should be arrested, and their property seized; all persons giving information to the enemy be shot as spies, and unenlisted marauders treated as criminals; officers were required to enforce the law confiscating slave property used for insurrectionary purposes; citizens who had been robbed by insurrectionists were to be quartered at the expense of insurrectionists; prisoners of war or slaves to be employed on military defences; and all municipal officers were required to take the oath of allegiance. These orders had an important influence in suppressing the disorders that had existed, and in reducing the number of guerrillas, very many of whom were arrested at different points in the State. General Pope was assigned to the command of all the National forces between the Missouri and Osage Rivers, which constituted the largest part of the army which General Fremont took to Springfield. He immediately took active measures to clear that part of the State. Price was on the Osage, and with him about five thousand men, waiting recruits and supplies from the North. General Pope, December 15th, left Sedalia

with two brigades, one under Colonel J. C. Davis, of Indiana, and the second under Colonel F. Steele. On the 16th his advance-guard fell in with a part of General Rains's force, between Warrensburg and Rose Hill, and captured sixteen wagons and one hundred and fifty prisoners; and the pursuit continued under Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, the main body moving towards Warrensburg. The scouts having reported on the 18th a large force of the enemy coming from Waverley and Arrow Rock, Colonel Davis went forward with eight companies of cavalry and a section of artillery towards Milford, to turn his left and rear, while Major Marshall was sent with ten companies of horse to turn his right and rear. The movement was successful. The enemy, finding himself in presence of a large force, surrendered, to the number of thirteen hundred men, including three colonels and fifty-one officers, with seventy-three wagons loaded with powder and stores, five hundred horses, and one thousand stand of arms. This was a heavy blow to Price, who had been anxiously expecting these supplies. Meantime General Prentiss, with some companies of the Third Missouri cavalry and of Bridge's sharpshooters, attacked and defeated a Confederate force at Mount Zion, Boone County, December 27th and 28th. The Union loss was three killed and ten wounded. The Confederate power in Missouri was soon after much weakened by the withdrawal of McCulloch's force; and a few stringent measures of General Halleck settled affairs there.

CHAPTER XIII.

Affairs in Western Virginia.-General Rosecrans.-Oppression by General Wise.— Population of Western Virginia.-The Confederate Troops.-Gauley Bridge.-Kanawha Expedition.- Rosecrans's Command.-Proclamation. -General Lee.-Elk River-Cheat Mountain.-General Reynolds.-His Command.-Carnifex Ferry.The Battle.-General Benham.-Retreat of the Enemy.-Dogwood Gap.-Big Sewall.-General Floyd.-General Reynolds.-Green River.-Enemy's Loss.-Chapmanville.-Gauley Bridge.-Guyandotte.-Romney.-Camp Alleghany.

THE state of affairs in Western Virginia when General McClellan was ordered to the command of the Potomac Department was favorable for the National cause. Brigadier-General Rosecrans had succeeded to the command of the Department of the Ohio. General Wise was in command of the Confederates, occupying the line of the Kanawha, and had conducted his operations in such a manner as greatly to aid the development of the Union sentiment of that section, the population of which, as per census of 1860, was as follows:

Blacks.

Western Virginia, thirty-nine counties.... 10,101
Rest of Virginia, one hundred and nine

counties

470,786

490,887

Whites 271,685

Total. 281,786

811,627

1,282,413

1,083,312

1,573,199

For weeks General Wise kept his guerrillas scouring the counties

« PreviousContinue »