War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0213 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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ing within about 50 paces of the breastworks of the enemy we encountered an almost impassable abatis, made by felling small trees crosswise of each other, the tops always meeting us, the difficulty increasing the nearer we approached the breastworks, where brush had been piled upon brush, with the sharpened ends confronting us. The fortifications were so constructed as to be re-enforced without the knowledge of those making the assault and without exposing their re-enforcements to our guns upon any of the surrounding heights, while the redoubt itself contained a battery of four guns, and was supported by the redoubts on our right and left, mounting several guns within good range. What was the exact force in the intrenchments and rifle pits behind the enemy's works I am not able to say, but the States of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas were all represented, and the force is reported to have been very large.

We had advanced to within less than fifty paces of the enemy's works without his offering any opposition, and were making our way slowly but surely, when our skirmishers commenced drawing the fire of the enemy, who was undoubtedly waiting for us. I had now obtained a position from which I could see the nature of the difficulties to our progress, which consisted mostly in the almost impassable nature of the breastworks and the length of time required to climb over them. I at once determined to reserve my fire until the top of the works was reached, when I could create such confusion with one volley as would enable us to get over before the enemy recovered from the shock. Many of my men had already fallen and the others wanted shot for shot. They were undisciplined and had never been under fire, and as I beckoned and called them forward I saw them coming involuntarily to a "ready." Passing quickly to the rear, unfortunately they fired without orders, though with fair precision and some effect. The Seventeenth was pressing forward, encountering like difficulties with the Forty-ninth, and both now advancing under the most terrible fire of musketry, grape, canister, and shell. I now waited with much anxiety for the Forty-eighth to make an assault farther to the left, intending to take advantage of the diversion it might create, and thus get over the enemy's works, now almost reached, but the Forty-eighth failed to support me. The works were, as I thought, almost ours, the Seventeenth and Forty-ninth still forcing their way forward, when I was struck in the right hip with a musket ball, knocked out of the saddle, and compelled in consequence to relinquish my command.

The killed, wounded, and missing in the engagement from my command number 128, of which the Forty-ninth lost 68 and the Seventeenth 60. A complete list of the casualties accompanies this report.* I am pained to have to communicate to you the loss of Captain John W. Brokaw, Company D, Forty-ninth Regiment, who fell while leading his company near the intrenchments of the enemy. His many virtues had endeared him to us all. Without military experience, he had judgment, honor, patriotism, courage - attributes which made him a soldier worthy the cause in which he fell.

I take great pleasure in acknowledging my obligations to Major Smith, Captain Harding, and Adjutant Ryan, of the Seventeenth, who at all times co-operated with me, and who behaved with great gallantry, as did the officers and men of that regiment without exception. To Lieutenant-Colonel Pease and Major Bishop, of the Forty-ninth, I return my thanks for the willingness invariably shown by them to execute my orders. Quartermaster James W. Davis and Asst. Surg. Andrew B.


* Embodied in division return, p. 182.