War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0233 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 34. Report of Colonel Morgan L. Smith, Eighth Missouri Infantry, commanding Fifth Brigade.


Fort Heiman, Ky., February 18, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 15th instant, in obedience to your order, I stormed the hill on which the enemy were posted with my brigade, consisting of the Eighth Missouri and Eleventh Indiana Regiments, and retook and held the ground lost by some of our forces in the morning. I was gallantly supported by Colonel Cruft's brigade. The hill was occupied by the First and Third Regiments of Mississippi Infantry, First Regiment Texas Infantry, Eighth Regiment Kentucky Infantry, and a battalion of Forrest Cavalry (Tennessee). The hill was covered at intervals with forest and dense underbrush. I deployed Company B, Eighth Missouri, Lieutenant Otis commanding, as skirmishers, to advance rapidly and draw their fire, and ascertain their position. I afterward deployed Company G, Captain Grier; Company H, Captain Swarthout; Company E, Captain Kirby, and Company A, Captain Johnson, with intervals of two paces, so that every advantage could be taken of trees for cover. In two instances their skirmishers and ours were occupying each side of the same tree for cover. It was here that the gallant Captain Swarthout, of Company H, fell. In his efforts to keep his men under cover he forgot himself, and received two rifle bullets, either of which would have killed him instantly. After about an hour's hard fighting, during which time we were advancing slowly, the enemy gave way. We pursued them for about a mile, to within 150 yards of their entrenchments, so closely that some of their arms were thrown away and 5 prisoners were taken, 3 by Company A and 2 by Company B, Eighth Missouri.

I then posted the grand guard between the battle ground of the morning and their entrenchments, with orders not to let them put any grand guard between their entrenchments and us, and had details from the Eleventh Indiana and Eighth Missouri carrying the wounded from the battle ground of the morning to the rear nearly all night. The wounded thus carried off were principally from the Eighth, Eleventh, and Twentieth Illinois Regiment. The small loss that my brigade sustained was owing to the admirable manner in which all orders were executed and the perfect confidence that existed between the officers and men, the officers all viewing with each other in accomplishing their object with the least possible loss of their brave men.

The gallant Eleventh Indiana would have gladly been in the lead, but kindly yielded to their brothers, the Eighth Missouri, with the understanding that it opens the ball on the next occasion, for which it is patiently waiting. Suffice it to say that it was in line with the five companies of the Eighth Missouri, not deployed, on the hill exactly at the right time.

Annexed please find report of killed, wounded, and missing;* also reports of Major McDonald and Colonel McGinnis of their regiments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel Eighth Missouri Volunteers, Commanding Fifth Brigade.


Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Fort Henry, Tenn.


* See p. 169.