War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0223 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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Numbers 25. Report of Colonel J. J. Woods, Twelfth Iowa Infantry.


Fort Donelson, February, 18, 1862.

SIR: In obedience to Special Orders, Numbers 2, headquarters Second Division, army in the field, Brigadier-General Smith commanding, I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the Twelfth Iowa Volunteer Infantry in the recent attack on Fort Donelson, Tenn.:

On Wednesday, the 12th instant, the regiment, being a part of Colonel J. Cook's (Third) brigade, Second Division, marched from Fort Henry to the neighborhood of Fort Donelson, formed line of battle to the left of the Dover road, and slept on their arms ready for action.

Thursday morning, at 8.30 o'clock, we marched down to and up the Dover road about half a mile, when we filed to the left and formed line of battle; threw forward the flanking companies as skirmishers, and marched forward down a long slope that lay in front, the grape shot and shell of the enemy flying thick around us all the time. Our skirmishers advanced to the top of the hill that lay in front of us. The battalion halted at two-thirds of the distance to the top of the hill, where it was protected from the enemy's fire by the ridge in front. It was but a few minutes after our skirmishers reached the top of the ridge in front when Private Edward C. Buckner, of Company A, was shot dead, a ball taking effect in the eye. No further damage occurred to the regiment that day, though the enemy kept up a constant fire.

The following night was very stormy, and, as we were ordered not to make fires, the men suffered from the wet and cold.

Early on Friday morning skirmishing began between our men and the enemy, which was kept up all day. During the day two of our men were struck with spent balls, but these did not disable them.

At night-fall eight companies retired and built fires, but passed an unpleasant night. Companies D and F remained as a guard over the ground we had occupied during the day.

Saturday until noon a random fire was kept up with the enemy. During this and the preceding days we were nobly supported by the coolness, bravery, and efficiency of a portion of Birge's sharpshooters, who co-operated with us. Our right flank was protected by the Fiftieth Illinois, Colonel Bane commanding. Our front and left flanks were unsupported, except by our own skirmishers and the sharpshooters.

At about 2 p. m. Saturday, 15th, the Twelfth Iowa, Fiftieth Illinois, and sharpshooters were ordered to make a feint attack to draw the enemy's fire. The men went cheerfully to the work assigned them, and kept up a warm fire on the enemy, while Colonel Lauman's brigade, on our left, advanced on the enemy and got possession of a part of the enemy's outworks and hoisted the American flag thereon. We were then ordered to their support. We moved rapidly by the left flank and charged over the down timber which the enemy had cut for his protection. At this time a galling fire of grape from the enemy poured in among us, wounding 8 or 19 of our men.

On reaching the breastworks some confusion was caused by the retreat of a portion of Colonel Lauman's brigade, who, having expended all their ammunition, were compelled to fall back. By some exertion our men were rallied, and we opened a warm fire on the enemy, who also poured a warm fire of grape upon us from their battery on our right