Numbers 41. Report of Colonel Hugh B. Reed, Forty-fourth Indiana Infantry.
HDQRS. FORTY-FOURTH REGIMENT INDIANA VOLUNTEERS,
Fort Henry, February 18, 1862.
SIR: On the morning of Saturday, February 15, the Forty-fourth Regiment Indiana Volunteers left their bivouac near the enemy's lines and marched to the attack on Fort Donelson. By order of General McClernand, we first took position near the battery (which was afterwards assaulted by the rebels). In this position the enemy's shot passed over our heads. Shortly afterwards we were ordered forward into line with our brigade (First). As we marched past the enemy's breastworks we received a heavy fire, wounding some of our men. We took our position on the left wing of our brigade, in front of and in range of the enemy's guns. They were invisible to us, while we were exposed to their view. There was part of a regiment of Union troops (Colonel Logan) on the slope of the hill between us and the enemy. Colonel Logan came to our lines and requested we would not fire, as it would endanger his men. I gave the order to the men to withhold their fire. We remained exposed to the enemy's fire for fifteen or twenty minutes without being able to return it or to determine whether our friends were still in danger of our guns.
At this time, the enemy's fire partly subsiding, the regimental colors were ordered forward and were planted 10 paces in front of our line of battle by First Lieutenant Story, of Company C. This failing to call forth a fire, Captain Bingham, of Company H, advanced to a point 10 or 12 paces in front of our line and waved our colors in the air. This drew his fire, which was most heartily responded to by our men, and was followed up in rapid succession on both sides. Our men behaved most gallantly. In the early part of the action Captain Cuppy, of Company E, was severely wounded while in advance of his men bravely cheering them on.
By this time, the regiment on our left having entirely changed their position, leaving our flank exposed, a movement was made by a well-mounted cavalry regiment and a body of infantry to turn our left wing. Captain Murray, Company B, was ordered to open fire upon them, and did so with terrible effect. Companies E and H were ordered to the support of Company B and poured in a well-directed fire, causing them to fall back in disorder.
At this time, finding my regiment was left entirely alone and unsupported, the regiments on our left having withdrawn and our brigade having changed position to the right, thus exposing both wings, of which the enemy were about to take advantage, the order was given to change position to the right, which was done by right flank in good order, with the exception of a part of the left wing, which, from not having fully understood the order, became separated from the main body and some confusion ensued, but in a few minutes they rejoined us. Ours was the last regiment engaged with the enemy during the fight in the morning. Having joined our brigade, we took position on an adjoining elevation and awaited orders.
Major Stoughton, posted during the entire action in the most exposed position, deserves the highest praise for the cool courage and daring displayed.
I would gladly specify very many instances of personal bravery dis-