Numbers 44. Report of Colonel John M. Thayer, First Nebraska Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.
HDQRS. 3rd Brigadier, 3rd DIV., DEPT. WEST TENNESSEE, Fort Henry, February 18, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor herewith to submit a report of the part taken in the battle of Fort Donelson by the brigade under my command, composed of the First Nebraska, Lieutenant-Colonel McCord; the Seventy sixth Ohio, Colonel woods; the Fifty-eighth Ohio and the Sixty-eighth Ohio, Colonel Steedman. There were also attached to my brigade seventh Illinois, Colonel Baldwin, and the Fifty-eighth Illinois, Colonel Lynch.
At 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Friday, the 14th instant, I moved the brigade forward, under orders from General Wallace, commanding the Third Division, of which this brigade constitutes a part, from the small settlement in the valley some 2 miles south of the fortifications to take up a position on the left of Colonel Cruft's brigade, which had gone on in the direction of General McClernand's division. After passing up a mile the line of battle was formed in the road fronting the valley leading to the western redoubt. No enemy appearing in that direction, we bivouacked for the night on the side of the road, the troops lying on the ground with their arms in their hands. At daylight the next morning the line was again formed. At about 10 o'clock I received orders from General Wallace in person to move forward with my command tot he support of General McClernand, who had been engaged with the enemy during the morning. Passing along the central road leading to the breastworks half a mile I met and passed the column of General McClernand retreating. Moving my men at double-quick, we were soon between the forces of General McClernand and the enemy, who was rapidly approaching.
On arriving at a small opening in the timber I filed into the right, crossing the ravine and ascending the hill; placed Colonel Lynch's Fifty-eighth Regiment on the right slope of the hill. The Chicago battery, Lieutenant Wood, taking position, by direction of the general, in the road, the Nebraska regiments, Lieutenant-Colonel McCord, was placed immediately on the right of the battery, on the line of the Fifty-eighth Illinois. A detached company of the Thirty-second Illinois (Company A, Captain Davidson) occupied the position next to the battery on the left. The Fifty-eighth Ohio were in position on the left of this company. The line of battle was thus formed across the road at right angles with it. The Seventy sixth Ohio was placed some 50 yards in the rear of the First Nebraska, and directed to lie upon the ground as a reserve. The Forty-sixth and Fifty-seventh Illinois were also held in reserve on the road in the rear, ready and anxious for the fight. Colonel Steedman's Sixty-eighth Ohio were stationed on a road on the left, leading to the fort. In this position we had not long to wait for the enemy, who soon approached, with a battery supported by a large body of infantry. Lieutenant Wood immediately commenced an effective fire with his battery, which was instantly returned by the enemy. The extreme left of the First Nebraska, resting on the battery, under orders previously given, at once opened a well-directed fire, which rapidly extended along the line to its right. This regiment continued an almost incessant discharge