War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0259 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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was manifested in Kentucky. Believing it to be of the greatest moment to protract the campaign, as the dearth of cotton might bring strength from abroad and discourage the North and to gain time to strengthen myself by new troops from Tennessee and other States, I magnified my forces to the enemy, but made known my true strength to the Department and the Governors of the States. The aid given was small. At length, when General Beauregard came out, in February, he expressed his surprise at the smallness of my force and was impressed with the danger. I admitted what was so manifest,a nd laid before him my views for the future, in which he entirely concurred, and sent me a memorandum of our conference, a copy of which I send to you. I determined to fight for Nashville at Donelson, and gave the best part of my army to do it, retaining only 14,000 men to cover my front, and giving 16,000 to defend Donelson. The force at Donelson is stated in General Pillow's report at much less, and I do not doubt the correctness of his statement, for the force at Bowling Green, which I supposed 14,000 men (the medical report showing only a little over 500 sick in hospitals), was diminished more than 5,000 by those who were unable to stand the fatigue of 10,00 men. I inclose medical director's report.* Had I wholly uncovered my front to defend Donelson, Buell would have known it and marched directly on Nashville. There were only ten small steamers, only three of which were available at Nashville. There were only ten small steamers, only three of which were available at Nashville, in the Cumberland, in imperfect condition, while the transportation of the enemy was great.

The evacuation of Bowling Green was imperatively necessary, and was ordered before and executed while the battle was being fought at Donelson. I had made every disposition for the defense of the fort my means allowed, and the troops were among the best of my forces, and the generals-Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner-were high in the opinion of officers and men for skill and courage,a nd among the best officers of my command. They were popular with he volunteers, and all had seen much service. No re-enforcement were asked. I waited the event opposite Nashville. The result of the conflict each day was favorable. At midnight on the 15th I received the news of a glorious victory; at dawn, of a defeat. My column was during the day and night (of the 16th) thrown over the river. A battery had been established below the city to secure the passage. Nashville was incapable of defense from its position and from the forces advancing from Bowling Green and up the Cumberland. A rear guard was left, under General Floyd, to secure the stores and provisions, but did not completely effect the object. The people were terrified and some of the troops were disheartened. The discouragement was spreading, and I ordered the command to Murfreesborough, where I managed, by assembling Crittenden's division and the fugitives from Donelson, to collect an army able to offer battle. The away, but most of the stores and provisions were saved and conveyed to new depots. This having been accomplished, though with serious loss, in conformity with my original design I marched southward and crossed the Tennessee at this point, so as to co-operate or unite with General Beauregard for the defense of the valley of the Mississippi. The passage is almost completed, and the head of my column is already with General Bragg, at Corinth.

The movement was deemed too hazardous by the most experienced members of my staff, but the object warranted the risk. The difficulty

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*Not found.

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