War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0270 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN.,N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

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for my own extrication by any and every means that might present themselves to me. I therefore directed Colonel Forrest, a daring and determined officer, at the head of an efficient regiment of cavalry, to be present, for the purpose of accompanying me in what I supposed would be an effort to pass through the enemy's lines. I announced the fact upon turning the command over to Brigadier-General Buckner that I would bring away with me by any means I could command my own particular brigade, the propriety of which was acquiesced in on all hands. This, by various modes, I succeeded in accomplishing to a great extent, and would have brought off my whole command in one way or another if I had had the assistance of the field officers who were absent from several of the regiments. The command was turned over to Brigadier-General Buckner, who at once opened negotiations with the enemy, which resulted in the surrender of the place.

Thus ended the conflict, running through four days and four nighters, a large portion of which time it was maintained with the greatest fierceness and obstinacy, in which we, with a force not exceeding 13,000, a large part of whom were illy armed, succeeded in resisting and driving back with discomfiture an army consisting of more than 50,000 men.

I have no means of accurately estimating the loss of the enemy. From what I saw upon the battle-field; from what I witnessed throughout the whole period of the conflict; from what I was able to learn from sources of information deemed by me worthy of credit, I have no doubt that the enemy's loss in killed and wounded reached a number beyond 5,000. Our own losses were extremely heavy, but, for want of exact returns, I am unable to state precise numbers. I think there will not be far from 1,500 killed and wounded.

Nothing could exceed the coolness and determined spirit of resistance which animated the men in this long and perilous conflict; nothing could exceed the determined courage which characterized them throughout this terrible struggle, and nothing could be more admirable than the steadiness which they exhibited, until nature itself was exhausted, in what they knew to be a desperate fight against a foe very many times their superior in numbers. I cannot particularize in this report to you the numberless instances of heroic daring performed by both officers and men, but must content myself for the present by saying in my judgement they all deserve well of their country.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.


KNOXVILLE, TENN., March 20, 1862.

SIR: Your communication of the 16th instant, from Decatur, reached me here to-day, where I came in compliance, with an order from Major-General Smith, who felt his position endangered from the advance of the enemy.

In that communication you say:

Under date of March 11th the Secretary of War says:

"The reports of Generals Floyd and Pillow are unsatisfactory, and the President directs that both these generals be relieved from command till further orders." He further directs General Johnston "in the mean time to request them to add to their reports such statements as they may deem proper on the following points:

"1st. The failure to give timely notice of the insufficiency of the garrison of Fort Donelson to repel attacks.