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forces at hand, after garrisoning the captured works, were as soon as practicable put in readiness for the march.
Fort Donelson was of much greater strength and extent than Fort Henry, occupying a table-land more than one hundred feet above the level of the river banks. The outer works covered the town of Dover and extended northward to Hickman's Creek, a considerable stream at high water. The guns of the river batteries were protected by strong earthworks. Above, on the plateau, there were eight heavy guns in place, commanding both land and water, besides field batteries. The garrison, including reinforcements under Generals Floyd and Buckner, numbered about seventeen thousand.
Grant's main forces from Fort Henry arrived before the outer works of Donelson on the 12th. The night following was cold; there was a light snow on the ground, and the soldiers had a dreary and benumbing bivouac which the morning seemed tardy in relieving. But they had come out to fight, and bore the severe hardship without loss of spirit. These men had gone through no very prolonged drilling in camp, had no perfection of equipment, yet were ready to do their best.
The guns of the Carondelet were heard below Fort Donelson on the 13th — the preconcerted signal in advance of the Flag-officer and the rest of his command. Grant had formed his lines that morning, extending a distance of three miles, his right under McClernand, its extreme near the river above Dover, his left under C. F. Smith, touching Hickman Creek
below the fort, and approaching the enemy's outer entrenchments generally within about one hundred yards.
During the day the transports arrived, anchoring out of range of the hostile batteries, and a brigade of soldiers under General Thayer was landed. Other troops from near Fort Henry were joined with Thayer's, constituting a third division under the command of General Lew Wallace (previously commanding a brigade of Smith's division), which took position between McClernand and Smith, closing up the lines more effectually.
On the 14th, Foote moved up and engaged the water batteries. An hour's cannonading drove most of the Confederate gunners from their pieces, on the river bank; but now the St. Louis and Louisville had become disabled, and began to drift down stream. Not one of the ironclads had escaped injury; there had been a loss of fifty-four men, killed or wounded; the heavy guns of the upper batteries were brought to bear on the assailants with destructive fury; and Foote, himself seriously hurt, withdrew his vessels to a place of security.
General Floyd, now in command at Donelson, after consulting his division and brigade commanders, determined to attack Grant's right next morning, in order to open the road up the river, as a way of retreat to Nashville. Grant was absent conferring with Footethen in no condition to leave his vessel, several miles down the river — when the fighting on the 15th began. Riding hurriedly to the right of his lines, he found there had been severe losses by McClernand's men, who had been driven back, but Wallace had come effectively to
their support. Quickly comprehending the exact state of affairs, Grant ordered a general advance, bringing into action Smith's division, in whose front the enemy had been weakened to support his left. Smith broke through the enemy's outer works, gaining a commanding position from which he could not be dislodged. Thus ended nine hours' fighting.
Floyd, availing himself of the slight means of river transportation at command, fled toward Nashville that night, taking with him as many Virginia troops as could be carried. Colonel Forrest also got away, with a body of cavalry, by the partly overflowed road from Dover southward.
Buckner, on whom the command now devolved, sent a flag of truce early the next morning (16th), asking a suspension of hostilities in order to negotiate terms of capitulation. Grant returned the memorable reply: “No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately on your works.”
Buckner did not delay his surrender. The entire force remaining-nearly half of Johnston's army-and twenty thousand stand of arms as well as a large amount of stores, with the fort, works and guns, were given into Grant's possession. The numbers here engaged and the losses in killed and wounded on both sides (Union – 500 killed, 2,108 wounded; Confederate — 466 killed, 1,534 wounded *) were somewhat greater than on the field at Bull Run. In material fruits to the victor, the two battles are not comparable.
Johnston, by whose order Bowling Green was evac
# War Records.
uated on the 15th, hastened his remaining forces southward. Buell followed up the retreating enemy and took possession of Nashville.
The capture of Roanoke Island by Burnside and Goldsborough belongs to the same awakening period. A large part of the soldiers (over 11,000) were landed on the 6th of February at Ashby Harbor, midway of the western side of the island. The Confederate works, under orders of ex-Governor Wise, who had charge of the coast defenses, had been reinforced after the arrival of the fleet, but a single assault, on the 8th, sufficed to give Burnside possession of the place and full control of Roanoke Island.
The hearts of Union people everywhere were made glad by these military and naval achievements in the East and in the West. Washington's birthday was chosen at the National Capital for a grand illumination. Preparation was duly made; but the February victories were not to have such celebration in Washington. Early in the month, the President's son, Willie, a lad of twelve years, was attacked by typhoid fever. Through many anxious days and nights the father had tenderly watched, hopefully and despairingly by turns, until, on the 20th, the fatal ending came. In the presence of this domestic sorrow, all thought of joyous public demonstration was abandoned.
Halleck and Buell — The Mississippi River — Farragut and
Butler - New Orleans.
After the victory at Fort Donelson and the occupation of Nashville, Halleck's command was extended (March 11th) over the army of Buell and its intended field of operations in Tennessee. In Missouri, the main part of the army which Fremont led to Springfield had already been withdrawn by Pope to the Mississippi, while a smaller force, under General Samuel R. Curtis, had been sent to deal with Price, who was reinvading the State from the southwest.
Curtis set out from Rolla about the middle of February, and on the 23d of that month reached Fayetteville, Ark., having marched 250 miles. Price, who had retired without giving battle, was now joined in the Boston Mountains beyond that town by Ben McCulloch and his Texas forces, and soon after by General Van Dorn, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, who brought a strong reinforcement, to which was added an Indian brigade under General Albert Pike. Far from his base and confronted by greatly superior numbers, Curtis was now in a situation of extreme peril. Ordered by Halleck to take up a strong defensive position, he selected the valley of Sugar Creek, surmounted