of effecting a junction is not wholly overcome, but it approaches completion. Day after to-morrow, unless the enemy interrupts me, my force will be with Bragg, and my army nearly 50,000 strong. This must be destroyed before the enemy can attain his object.
I have given this sketch so that you may appreciate the embarrassments which surrounded me in my attempt to avert or remedy the disaster of Donelson before alluding to the conduct of the generals.
When the force was detached, I was in hopes that such dispositions would have been made as would have enabled the forces to defend the fort or withdraw without sacrificing the army.
On the 14th I ordered General Floyd, by telegram, "if he lost the fort, to get his troops back to Nashville." It is impossible this might have been done, but justice requires to look at events as they appeared at the time, and not alone by he light of subsequent information.
All the facts in relation to the surrender will be transmitted to the Secretary of War as soon as they can be collected, in obedience to his order. It appears form the information received that General Buckner (being the junior officer) took the lead in advising the surrender and General Floyd acquiesced, and they all concurred in the belief that their force could not maintain their position. All concurred that it would involve a great sacrifice of life to extricate the command. Subsequent events show that the investment was not so complete as their information from their scouts led them to believe. The conference resulted in the surrender. The command was irregularly transferred, and devolved on the junior general, but not apparently to avoid any just responsibility or from any want of personal or moral intrepidity.
The blow was most disastrous and almost without remedy. I therefore in my first report remained silent. This silence you were kind to excuse my course. I observed silence, as it seemed to me the best way to serve the cause and the country. The facts were not fully known, discontent prevailed, and criticism or condemnation were likely to augment than to cure the evil. I refrained, well knowing that heavy censures would fall upon me, but convinced that it was better to endure them for the present, and defer to a more propitious time an investigation of the conduct of he generals; for in the mean time their services were required and their influence useful. For these reasons Generals their gallantry, their energy, and their devotion to the Confederacy.
I have thus recurred to the motives by which I have been governed from a deep personal sense of the friendship and confidence you have always shown me and from the conviction that they have not been withdrawn from me in adversity.
All the reports requisite for a full official investigation have been ordered.
You mention that you intend to visit the field of operations here. I hope soon to see you, for your presence would encourage my troops, inspire the people, and augment the army. To me personally it would give the greatest satisfaction. Merely a soldier myself, and having no acquaintance with the statement or leaders of the South, I cannot touch springs familiar to you. Were you to decline, still your presence alone would be of inestimable advantage. The enemy are now at Nashville, about 50,000 strong, advancing in this direction by Columbia. He has also