Numbers 16. Report of Captain Edward McAllister, Battery D, First Illinois Light Artillery.
FORT DONELSON, TENN., February 17, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the share my battery bore in the siege of Fort Donelson:
Wednesday, February 12, I took up position on the hill west of the enemy's works and bivouacked on the hill. Thursday morning I opened fire on two batteries, one on the right and one opposite our own position. After throwing a few shell, to obtain the length of fuse and elevation, I was ordered to cease firing and take a batter position on the same hill. I selected a point, and about noon opened on the four-gun battery through an opening in which I could see the foe. Our fire was promptly returned with such precision that they cut our right wheel on howitzer Numbers 3 in two. I had no spare wheel, and had to take one off the limber to continue the fight. I then moved all my howitzers over to the west slope of the ridge and loaded under cover of it, and ran the pieces up by hand until I could get the exact elevation. The recoil would throw the guns back out of sight, and thus we continued the fight until the enemy's battery was silenced. They threw four shots to our one, but owing to the way I conducted our firing after losing the wheel it was harmless. I was then ordered to move around to the south, and took position with howitzers Nos. 1 and 3 opposite and midway between the two batteries on hills to the right and left of us. Howitzer Numbers 2 was advanced 150 yards farther to the right. I fired three rounds to get elevation and length of fuse that night. Friday no action until our gunboats retired, when both batteries opposite opened on us, compelling us to move our horses far down the slope in rear of the Forty-fifth Regiment.
In obedience to orders I opened on the enemy again, completely silencing them with about 20 shell. Howitzer Numbers 1. broke its trail short off by its own recoil on the frozen ground and was completely disabled thereby. Saturday morning I opened fire before sunrise. The enemy had planted a six-gun battery on the lower ground forward tot he right, their three batteries of fourteen guns forming a crescent, my position being in the focus. I fought our guns by the same tactics used the first day. I directed the fire of the right howitzer on the enemy's right battery, using three-second fuse at 2 degrees elevation. Our shell and shrapnel proving troublesome, they sent a body of skirmishers, that approached our right piece, and poured in so close a volley, that we were driven from the gun. The Forty-fifth advanced, and after a sharp skirmish repulsed them. I continued the firing with coolness and precision until my last round of ammunition had been expended. Ten minutes afterwards an order to retreat by the left came to me, and before I could throw my saddle on my horse I was left by the Forty-fifth Regiment and the single gun of Taylor's battery, whose teams were hitched on. The Parrott gun had left some time before. I got all the teams I could and hitched on to the left gun, but it was so heavy we could not haul it through the brush, and abandoned it, bringing off the limber. I started with two teams to hitch up the right piece, but before reaching it received a heavy volley from the enemy, then in full sight and charging on the gun. All attempt to save it then was hopeless, and I reluctantly ordered my drivers to retreat and followed them.
My men and officers behaved well. First Lieutenant George J. Wood acted