War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0166 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA.

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[CHAP. XVII.

gave us possession of a position within the enemy's lines, and opened the way to a still better one at B, which nightfall alone prevented us from occupying with our rifled artillery, which would readily have commanded the enemy's works. This repulse from the ground so hardly won in the forenoon, and probably still more our possession of a vantage ground within their lines, induced the enemy to capitulate on the morning of the 16th.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, general, your most obedient servant,

J. D. WEBSTER,

Colonel, Chief of Staff.

Brigadier General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding District.

Numbers 4. Report of Flag-Officer A. H. Foote, U. S. Navy, of engagement February 14.

FLAG-SHIP ST. LOUIS,

Near Fort Donelson, Cumberland River, February 15, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, as you regarded the movement as a military necessity, although not in my judgment properly prepared, I made an attack on Fort Donelson yesterday, the 14th instant, at 3 o'clock p. m., with four iron-clad and two wooden gunboats, the St. Louis, Carondelet, Louisville, and Pittsburg, with the Tyler and Conestoga, and after a severe fight of an hour and a half, being in the latter part of the action less than 400 yards from the fort, the wheel of this vessel, by a shot through her pilot-house, was carried away, and the tiller-ropes of the Louisville also disabled by a shot, which rendered the two boats wholly unmanageable. They then drifted down the river, the relieving tackles not being able to steer or control them in the rapid current. The two remaining boats, the Pittsburg and Carondelet, were also greatly damaged between wind and water, and soon followed us, as the enemy rapidly renewed the fire as we drifted helplessly down the river. This vessel, the St. Louis, alone received 59 shots, 4 between wind and water and one in the pilot-house, mortally wounding the pilot and others, requiring some time attack, which, notwithstanding our disadvantages, we have every reason to suppose would in fifteen minutes more, could the action have been continued, have resulted in the capture of the two forts bearing upon us, as the enemy's fire materially boats helplessly drifted down the river from disabled steering apparatus, as the relieving tackles could not control the helm in the strong current, when the fleeing enemy returned tho their guns and again boldly reopened fire upon us from the river battery, which we had silenced.

The enemy must have brought over twenty heavy guns to bear upon our boats from the water batteries and the main fort on the side of the hill, while we could only return the fire with twelve bow guns from the four boats. One rifled gun aboard the Carondelet burst during the action. The officers and men in this hotly-contested but unequal fight behaved with the greatest gallantry and determination, all deploring the accident rendering two gunboats suddenly helpless in the narrow river and swift current.