War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0272 OPERATIONS IN KY.,TENN.,N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

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porting it at Clarksville and 25,000 more at least had been stationed at Nashville. While these were my own views and opinions, I nevertheless transmitted to General johnston the exact state of affairs at the fort at every stage of the conflict.

My views and opinions upon the defence of Fort Donelson and the means of extracting the army from the trap in which necessity had thrown it there had been set forth in a letter addressed to the general from Clarksville before I received orders to go to Fort Donelson, bearing date of February 12. I annex a copy of that letter:

CLARKSVILLE, TENN., February 12, 1862.


SIR: There is but little known satisfactorily of the enemy or their movements; up to 10 o'clock last night all was quiet au usual at the fort. General Buckner is now there. I have thought the best disposition to make of the troops on this line was to concentrate the main force at Cumberland City, leaving at Fort Donelson enough to make all possible resistance to any attack which may be made upon the fort, but no more. The character of the country in the rear and to the left of the fort is such as to make it dangerous to concentrate our whole force there; for, if their gunboats should pass the fort and command the river, our troops would be in danger of being cut off by a force from the Tennessee. In this event their road would be open to Nashville, without any obstruction whatever. The position at Cumberland City is better; for there the railroad diverges from the river, which would afford some little facility for transportation in case of necessity; and from thence the open country southward towards Nashville is easily reached. Besides, form that point we threaten the flank of any force sent from the Tennessee against the fort. I am making every possible effort to concentrate the forces here at Cumberland City. I have been in the greatest dread ever since I reached this place at their scattered condition. The force is inadequate to defeat a line of 40 miles in length, which can be attacked from three different directions. We can only be formidable by concentration. A strong guard is all that can be left here, and this no longer than your movement can be made. I shall begin today, if the engineers report favorably, to blockade the river at the piers of the railroad bridge. I have taken up an idea that a raft, secured against this bridge, can render the river impassable for the gunboats. If this is possible, it will be an immense relief of water; but the present stage of water renders this experiment somewhat doubtful; still I will make every exertion to effect the blockade, if possible. I received by telegraph your authority to make any disposition of the troops which in my judgment was best, and acknowledged it by a dispatch immediately. I am acting accordingly.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.

CHARGE 2.-The failure of any attempt to save the army by evacuating the post when found to be untenable.

I have been unfortunate if I have failed to show in my report of the battle of Fort Donelson that the fight on February 15, outside of our entrenchments, was nothing but an attempt to save the army by evacuating the fort, which the position and numbers of the enemy had already rendered untenable. In my report of February 27 I attempted to explain why we left our entrenchments on the 15th to give battle and the object I had in view in doing so. I said:

I had already seen the impossibility of holding out for any length of time with our inadequate numbers and indefensible position. There was no place in our entrenchments to keep our men from sleep and prevent repose, their object was merely to give time to pass a column above us on the river, both on the right and the left banks, and thus to cut off all communications and to prevent the possibility of egress. I then saw clearly that but one course was left by which a rational hope could be entertained of saving the garrison or a part of it-that was to dislodge the enemy from his position on our left, and thus to pass our people into the open country lying southward towards Nashville.

Upon the failure this enterprise, the causes of which are fully set forth in my report, it obviously became impossible to save the army by evac-