to the high ground. To overcome this and have the forces in good condition to march against Fort Donelson the artillery and a great portion of the infantry were moved back to the height ground on the 11th instant.
The country between the two forts is very rolling, thickly covered with timber, and sparsely populated; the soil, as a general thing, being poor. The roads had not been obstructed in any manner by the rebels, from the fact that after that fall of Fort Henry our cavalry scoured the country so continually and effectively that they did not venture to send out men for the purpose.
On the morning of the 12th, at an early hours, the troops were put in motion in two divisions, one taking the left-hand road and the other the right, the two divisions coming together about 2 1/2 miles from Fort Donelson. From this point our forces moved forward in line of battle, cautiously examining the ground in advance and on the flanks, which was very hilly and ensile wooded, until we came in sight of the enemy's works. These were reconnoitered as thoroughly as possible under the circumstances, and our forces assigned to their respective positions, General McClernand's division on the right and General C. F. Smith's division on the left. Some slight skirmishing ensued and a few prisoners were taken, who informed us that the rebel forces consisted of from 20,000 to 25,000 men, commanded by Generals Floyd, Pillow, Buckner, and Johnson.
Our forces sent around by water, preceded by the gunboat Carondelet, not having arrived, a messenger was dispatched to Fort Henry for General Wallace to bring over a portion of his division, which was promptly done, and it was assigned a position in the center. Wednesday night the gunboat Carondelet arrived, and on Thursday moved up and bombarded the enemy, doing considerable damage and silencing one of his 32-pounder guns. Our lines were at the same time drawn closer, and our batteries placed in position where they could play upon the enemy to the best effect, though great difficulty was experienced in finding good positions, on account of the heavy timber, which prevented us from getting an uninterrupted view. There was a good deal of cannonading and skirmishing the whole day, and a most gallant charge was made upon the rebel entrenchments at "I" by a portion of General McClernand's division, which promised to be successful, when the colonel commanding feel, severely wounded, while bravely leading his men forward; which, with other casualties, forced our troops to retire.
After the arrival of General Wallace's division General McClernand extended his still farther to the right, the object being, if possible, to get some of our guns to bear upon the river above the town of Dover, but the advance in that direction had to be made with the utmost caution, as the ground was very much broken, without roads, and covered with an almost impenetrable growth of small oak. Our reconnaissance had developed the fact that the rebels were strongly posted on a range of hills varying from 50 to 80 feet in height, with batteries placed on the commanding points, their lines extending back from the river some 2 1/2 miles, in advance of which they had felled immense quantities of timber, chopping down the smaller trees about breast-high, and leaving them attached to the stumps, thus making a rude sort of an abatis, but at the same time a most difficult obstacle to get over, while on the north and west they were protected from attack by a creek, which, owing to the backwater from the Cumberland River, was impassable except on bridges or rafts. This, although to their advantage in one sense, was also very much to ours. It enabled us to move our troops and supplies up from the landing place with perfect security, prevented the enemy