had fought his gunboats, and had fought him in the open field, to cut our way through his line of investment; that we were again invested with an immense force of fresh troops; that the army had done all it was possible to do, and that duty and honor required no more. General Floyd then remarked that his opinion coincided with General Buckner's.
Brigadier General B. R. Johnson had previously retired from the council to his quarters in the field, and was not present. In my original report I stated it was my impression Major Gilmer was consulted, and concurred in the opinion of Generals Buckner and Floyd; but, from subsequent conversation with Major Gilmer, I learned from him that he had retired to another room and laid down, and was not present at this part of the conference; and I am therefore satisfied that I wa mistaken in the statement in regard to him.
The proposition to cut our way out being thus disposed of, I remarked that we could hold our position another day and fight the enemy from our trenches; that by night our steamboats that had taken off the prisoners and our mounted men would return; that during the next night we could set our troops on the right bank of the river, and that we could make our escape by Clarksville, and thus save the army.
To this proposition General Buckner said: "Gentlemen, you know the enemy occupy the rifle pits on my right, and can easily turn my position and attack me in rear or move down on the river battery. I am satisfied he will attack me at daylight, and I cannot hold my position half an hour." Regarding General Buckner's reply as settling this proposition in the negative-for I had quite enough to do with my heavy losses in the battle of the previous day to defend my own portion of the line and I could give him no re-enforcements-I then said: "Gentlemen, if we cannot cut our way our nor fight on there is no alternative left us but capitulation, and I am determined that I will never surrender the command nor will I ever surrender myself a prisoner. I will die first." General Floyd remarked that that was his determination; that he would die before he would do either. General Buckner said that such determination was personal, and that personal considerations should never influence official action. General Floyd said he acknowledge it was personal with him, but nevertheless such was his determination. Thereupon General Buckner said that, being satisfied that nothing else could be done, if he was placed in command he would surrender the command and would take the fate of the command.
General Floyd immediately said: "General Buckner, I place you in command; will you permit me to draw out my brigade?" General Buckner promptly replied: "Yes, provided you do so before the enemy act upon my communication." General Floyd immediately remarked: "General Pillow, I turn over the command." I replied instantly: "I pass it." General Buckner said: "I assume it; bring on a bugler, pen, ink, and paper." General Buckner had received pen, ink, and paper and sat down to the table and commenced writing, when I left and crossed the river, passing outside the garrison before General Buckner prepared his communication to the enemy, and went to Clarksville, by land, on horseback.
I did not know what he had written until I saw the published correspondence with General Grant. It may be asked if I was in favor of cutting our way out, why, when the command was turned over to me, I did not take it out. My reply is that, thought technically speaking the command devolved on me when turned over by General Floyd, it was turned over to General Buckner in point of fact. All parties so under-