War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0273 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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uating the post; the attempt to save the army had been made. I thought then, and still think, that a more earnest attempt could not have been made by an equal number of men to accomplish any enterprise by force of arms. To extricate the army then involved the necessity of another battle that night, more desperate than that of the morning, because the enemy had been greatly re-enforced, and held their former position with fresh troops. There is such a thing as human exhaustion, an end of physical ability in man to march and fight, however little such a contingency may seem possible to those who sleep quietly upon soft beds, who fare sumptuously every day, and have never tried the exposure of protracted battles and hard campaigns. This point had been reached by our men; the conflict, toil, and excitement of unsuspended battle, running through eighty-four hours, was enough to wear out the physical strength of any men; especially so when the greater part of the time they were exposed to a storm of sleet, snow, and continued frost, and opposed to a force five or six times greater than their own, without shelter or fire. Many of the men had been frost-bitten, and a great many were so overcome by fatigue and want of sleep as to be unable to keep open their eyes standing on their feet in the face and under the fire of the enemy. In fact, the men were totally out of condition to fight.

There were but two roads by which it was possible to retire. If they went by the upper road, they would certainly have a strong position of the enemy to cut through, besides having to march over the battle-field strewn with corpses; and if they retired by the lower rod, they would have to wade through water 3 feet deep; which latter ordeal the medical director stated would be death to more than half of the command on account of the severity of the weather and their physical prostration. It was believed in council that the army could not retire without sacrificing three-fourths of it. The consultation which took place among the officers on the night of the 15th was to ascertain whether a further struggle could be maintained, and it was resolved in the negative unconditionally and emphatically. General Buckner, whose immediate command was the largest in the fort, was positive and unequivocal in his opinion that the fight could not be renewed. I confess I was myself strongly influenced by this opinion of General Buckner, whose immediate command was the largest in the fort, was positive and unequivocal in his opinion that the fight could not be renewed. I confess I was myself strongly influenced by this opinion of General Buckner; for I have not yet seen an officer in whose superior military ability, clear, discriminating judgment, in whose calm, unflinching courage and unselfish patriotism I more fully confide than in his. The loss to the Confederacy of so able, brave, and accomplished a soldier is irreparable.

From my own knowledge of the condition of the men I thought that but few of them were in condition to encounter a night conflict; so the plan of renewing the battle was abandoned, and thus the necessity of surrender was prevented. All agreed that the necessity existed. That conclusion having been reached, nothing remained but to consider the manner of it, and is fully set forth in my former report.

CHARGE 3.-Why they abandoned the command to their inferior officer, instead of executing themselves whatever measure was deemed proper for the entire army.

The "abandonment of command" here imputed I suppose to mean the act of transferring to General Buckner, who was willing to execute it, the performance of the formalities of surrender. The surrender was a painful and inexorable necessity, which could not be avoided, and not a "measure deemed proper for the entire army." On the contrary, my proposition to take away as large a portion of the forces as possible met, I am sure, with the approbation of the whole council. One of the reasons which induced me to make this transfer to General Guckner was

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