War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0276 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 49. Report of Colonel Gabriel C. Wharton, Fifty-first Virginia Infantry, commanding First Brigade.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, FLOYD'S DIVISION, Camp near Murfreesborough, Tenn., February 22, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the participation of this brigade in the engagement at Fort Donelson:

The advance of the brigade, the Fifty-first Regiment Virginia Volunteers, reached Dover, 1 mile from the fort, about 11 p. m. on Friday, the 7th, and immediately reported to Brigadier General B. R. Johnson, who was then in command, and was ordered to encamp near the wharf.

About 4 p. m. on the 8th the Fifty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers arrived and was ordered to encamp near the Fifty-first. From Saturday to Wednesday following there was skirmishing between our cavalry picket and the enemy.

On Wednesday our pickets were driven in and the enemy reported advancing in force. The brigade was then ordered to take position on the left of Brigadier-General Buckner's division and near the center of our line of defense. Soon after taking position, the enemy commenced to throw shot and shell, which did no execution. Captain Porter's battery was then ordered to take the position which had been assigned to this brigade, and we were ordered to the support of the left wing, commanded by Brigadier-General Johnson. We were engaged during the evening and night in constructing breastworks and rifle pits.

During Thursday we were under a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries. There were also frequent engagements with the infantry, in all of which the enemy were repulsed. Thursday night we remained again in the ditches.

On Friday there was skirmishing with the infantry and sharpshooters; occasionally sharp firing from the batteries. On Friday evening occurred the terrific cannonading between the gunboats and the fort, some of the shells from the boats exploding in and near our lines, but doing no injury.

On Saturday morning, at 4 o'clock, the brigade was withdrawn from the ditches and placed in line, by order of Brigadier-General Pillow, to make an attack on the enemy's extreme right flank. Colonel Baldwin's brigade was placed in advance; this brigade followed next. About 6 o'clock the column was put in motion. We had scarcely passed beyond the line of our defense when the skirmishers of Colonel Baldwin's brigade engaged the enemy's pickets, and in a few minutes the engagement became general. We were then ordered to deploy and advance, which was done with spirit and promptness. The enemy, after a very obstinate resistance, was forced to retire, but were either rallied or re-enforced on the several ridges, from which they were again and again driven. Our men, cheering as they charged, pursued them nearly 2 miles, when orders were received that we should retire to our entrenchments. The brigade was very much exhausted, having been under fire or in the ditches for more than four days.

Tho loss of the Fifty-first was 9 killed, 43 wounded, and 5 missing. Of the Fifty-sixth, 8 were killed, 37 wounded, and 115 missing.

Lieutenant Colonel J. M. Massie commanded the Fifty-first Regiments; his bearing was most chivalric and gallant. Captain G. W. Davis gallantly led the Fifty-sixth Regiment. Lieutenant August Forsberg, attached to the brigade as engineer officer, rendered very efficient service in rallying