Numbers 45. Message from the President of the Confederate States.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, March 11, 1862.
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives:
I transmit herewith copies of such official reports as have been received at the War Department of the defense and fall of Fort Donelson.* They will be found incomplete and unsatisfactory. Instructions have been given to furnish information upon the points not made intelligible by the reports.
It is not stated that re-enforcement were at any time asked for; nor is it demonstrated to have been impossible to have saved the army by evacuating the position; nor is it known by what means it was found practicable to withdraw a part of the garrison, leaving the remained to surrender; nor upon what authority or principle of action the senior generals abandoned responsibility, by transferring the command to a junior officer.
In a former communication to Congress I presented the propriety of a suspension of judgement in relation to the disaster at Fort Donelson until official reports could be received. I regret that the information now furnished is no defective. In the mean time, hopeful that satisfactory explanation may be made, I have directed, upon the exhibition of the case as presented by the two senior generals, that they be relieved from command, to await further orders whenever a suitable judgment can be rendered on the merits of the case.
RICHMOND, VA., March 11, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: The reports of Brigadier-Generals Floyd and Pillow of the defense and fall of Fort Donelson are unsatisfactory. I can but hope that explanations may be made which will change the aspect given to the affair by their statements.
In the mean time you will order General A. S. Johnston to relieve both of those officers from command, and to indicate to them that information is wanted as to their failure to give timely notice of the insufficiency of the garrison to repel the attack and their failure to attempt to save the army by evacuating the post when it was effected; further, to state upon what principle was a selection made of particular troops, being certain regiments of the senior general's brigade, to whose use the transportation on hand should be appropriated.
Copies of the reports received will be furnished to me for transmission to Congress.
Very respectfully, yours,
*This message transmitted Pillow's report of February 18 (Numbers 51), Floyd's of February 27 (Numbers 48), and Wharton's and McCausland's reports (Nos. 49 and 50).