War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0183 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 7. Report of Colonel Richard J. Oglesby, Eighth Illinois Infantry, commanding First Brigade.


District of West Tennessee, Fort Donelson, February 20, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that under Field Orders, Numbers 152, of Brigadier General John A. McClernand, commanding, of date February 11, I moved with the First Brigade from Fort Henry in the direction of Fort Donelson at 4 o'clock p. m. and encamped on the Ridge road, 4 miles from Fort Henry, at 8 o'clock p. m. of the day. My forces consisted of the Eighth Illinois Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Frank L. Rhoads; Eighteenth Illinois Regiment, commanded by Colonel James S. Rearden; Thirtieth Illinois Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Elias S. Dennis, and the Thirty-first Illinois Regiment, commanded by Colonel John A. Logan; four independent companies of cavalry, commanded by Captain Schwartz's battery of two 6-pounder guns and two 12-pounder howitzers, commanded by First Lieutenant [G.] Conrad Gumbart, and Captain Dresser's battery of three 6-pounder rifled guns. Early on the morning of the 12th instant Colonel Noble joined the command with two companies of the Second Illinois Cavalry and two companies regular cavalry. He was immediately sent forward with his whole command to reconnoiter to a point within 2 miles of Fort Donelso, using Captains Carmichael and O'Harnett's cavalry as flankers. The column was put in motion at 8 o'clock a. m., and moved slowly to a point 2 miles from the position of the enemy, at which place, meeting their pickets, Major Mudd wend forward with a detachment of the Second Illinois Cavalry and drove them back, while a position was taken by the advance guard to receive them. The general commanding, arriving on the ground, ordered the column to move to the right of the Ridge road, through some old fields, to the main road leading from the Big Sandy Creek to Dover.

Ascending the high wood ridge overlooking the field to our left and rear and within 1 miles of the main for and about 2 1/2 miles from Dover, which lies 1 mile above the fort on the Cumberland River, a large body of cavalry, under Colonel Forrest, threatened my right, and prepared to attack the head of the column. They were held in check for five minutes, until I could bring forward the grand guard, under major Bacon, of the Thirtieth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, which was thrown across the slope of the ridge descending into the valley, leading directly into the camp of the enemy. At the same time the right wing of the Eighth Regiment, in column of platoon, took position as a reserve to the grand guard, with Captain O'Harnett's cavalry, holding the high ridge to our right, and Colonel Noble's cavalry in front, ready to retire through the intervals on the right wing of the Eight Regiment, should it become necessary to do so. The Eighteenth was formed in column of companies at the foot of the hill, and the rest of the column held position as in the line of march. Instantly the attack began and was steadily resisted by the grand guard for ten minutes, when the enemy again gave back, and Major Bacon held the right unbroken.

Finding no chance to break the lines of the guard, they now in large force attempted to gain the rear of it. I ordered Colonel Noble to retire his cavalry through the Eighth Regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Rhoads