War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0205 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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Fort Donelson, Tenn., February 18, 1862.

SIR: In obedience to your order, I have the honor to submit the following report of the several actions in which the Forty-eighth Illinois Volunteers, under my command, were engaged during February 13, 14, and 15 instant at this place

On the evening of the 12th instant we encamped south of Fort Donelson and about 1,000 yards from the redoubts of the enemy, the Eleventh and Twentieth Illinois Volunteers on our right and the Forty-fifth on our left, with a battery between the Forty-eighth and Forty-fifth. In this position we remained until the 13th. Early on the morning of this day (13th) your orders were communicated to me to move with the balance of the Second Brigade and occupy some position on the elevation to the east of us and southeast of the enemy's works, and when about ready to take up the line of march a battery of three guns, belonging to Captain Taylor's artillery, was planted immediately in front of my center, and orders reached me to remain and support this battery with my regiment. By this time our battery had opened upon the enemy, and were sharply replied to by them from their works. I at once ordered my regiment behind the brow or apex of the hill and remained there under cover, but within a very short distance to the rear of it.

The other three regiments had in the mean time moved off in a direction to our right, in obedience to your order, leaving the Forty-eighth separated from the brigade. While supporting this battery I had for the first time an opportunity of witnessing the conduct of the Forty-eighth Regiment while under fire of the enemy. Several shot and shell fell in our midst, but did not kill or wound any one, though several made narrow escapes.

After the battery in front of us had ceased firing orders were conveyed to me from General McClernand to move with the Forty-eighth Regiment and form on the left of the Seventeenth Illinois Regiment, the latter at that time being formed on the left of the Forty-ninth Illinois Volunteers (Colonel Morrison), and both being on my right and distant from me about 500 yards. This I immediately did. As soon as my line was formed I immediately communicated with colonel Morrison (before then in command of the Forty-ninth and Seventeenth), and being the ranking officer of the three regiments then in line (Colonel Ross, of the Seventeenth, being absent), I assumed command of the whole.

At the same time I was informed that it was General McClernand's order that these regiments were to make the attempt to storm the enemy's redoubts on an elevation southeasterly from their main fort and not far from where the three regiments were then in line. I immediately had the whole column put in motion and formed them in line of battle to the southeast of the redoubt which we were to attack. I placed the Forty-ninth Regiment, under command of Colonel Morrison, on the right; the Seventeenth, under Major Smith, in the center, and the Forty-eighth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, on the left, and taking my own position in the center of the Seventeenth Regiment, I ordered the whole to advance upon the redoubt, then distant less than a quarter of a mile.

In the mean time I had ordered each regiment to deploy one company as skirmishers along its entire front. In this order the whole line advanced through thick underbrush and with great difficulty (except on the right, where the way was open and not so obstructed), until within a short range of the redoubt. At this moment, and rather unexpectedly, the enemy opened a brisk fire upon our lines from behind their works, and also from batteries situated behind them so as to be concealed from