Four of the enemy's gunboats were badly disabled, receiving over 100 shots from our battery, many of which went entirely through from stem to stern, tearing the frame of the boats and machinery to pieces, killing and wounding 55 of their crews, among whom was the commodore himself. There can, therefore, no longer be a doubt as to the vulnerability of these to heavy shots; but it required a desperate fight to settle the question, and there is danger that the public mind will run from one extreme to the other, and arrive at a conclusion underrating the power of the enemy's gunboats.
In estimating the loss inflicted upon the enemy on the 15th, I saw that the whole field of battle for a mile and a half was covered with his dead and wounded, and believe that his loss could not fall short of 5,000 men. I am satisfied, from published letters of the officers and men of the enemy and from the acknowledgments of the Northern press, that his loss was much greater than was originally estimated in my report.
I stated in my original report that after we had driven the enemy from and captured his battery on the Wynn's Ferry rod, and were pursuing him around ot our right, and after we had met and overcome a fresh force of the enemy on the route towards his gunboats, I called off the pursuit, but in the hurry in which that report was prepared I omitted to state my reasons for so doing. I knew that the enemy had twenty boat loads of fresh troops at his landing, then only about 3 miles distant. I knew, from the great loss my command had sustained during the protracted fight of over seven hours, my command was in no condition to meet a large body of fresh troops, who, I had every reason to believe, were then rapidly approaching the field.
General Buckner's command, so far as labor was concerned, was comparatively fresh, but its demoralization, from being repulsed by the battery, had unfitted it to meet and fight a large body of fresh troops. I therefore called off the pursuit, explained my reasons to General Floyd, who approved the order. This explanation is now given as necessary to a proper understanding of that order. It is further proper to say that from the moment of my arrival at Donelson I had the whole force engaged night and day in the work of strengthening my position until the fighting commenced and when the fighting ceased at night it was again at work.
I did not, therefore, and could not, get a single morning report of the strength of my command. The four Virginia regiments did not exceed, I am confident, 350 men each for duty. The Texas regiment did not number 300 men. Several Mississippi regiments were nearly equally reduced, while those of Colonels Voorhies, Abernathy, and Hughes (new regiments) were almost disbanded by measles, and did not exceed 200 men each for duty. Colonel Browder's regiment had but 60 men, and it was, by my order, placed under Captain Parker, to work artillery. All was, by my order, placed under Captain Parker, to work artillery. All others were greatly reduced by wastage. The whole force, therefore, was greatly less than would be supposed from the number of nominal regiments.
Of this force General Floyd, under his agreement with General Buckner before he turned over the command, drew out a large portion of his brigade (how many I do not know), by taking possession of the steamer Anderson, which arrived at Dover just before day, and setting them across the river. A large portion of the cavalry, under orders, passed out. All of the cavalry was ordered ot cut out, and could have gone out but for the timidity of officers. Several thousand infantry escaped, one way or another, many of whom are now at this place, and all others are ordered here as a rendezvous for reorganization.