War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0301 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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Decatur, Ala., March 16, 1862.

Brigadier General GIDEON J. PILLOW,

Chattanooga, Tenn.:

GENERAL: Under date of March 11 the Secretary of War says:

The reports of Generals Floyd and Pillow are unsatisfactory, and the President directs that both these generals relieved from command until further orders.

He further directs General Johnston in the mean time [to] request them to add to their [reports] such statements as they may deem proper on the following points:

1st. The failure to give timely notice of the insufficiency of the garrison of Fort Donelson to repel the attack.

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

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

4th. What was the precise mode by which each effected his escape from the fort and what dangers were encountered in the retreat.

5th. Upon what principle a selection was made of particular troops, being certain regiments of the senior general's brigade, to whose use all the transportation on hand was appropriated.

6th. A particular designation of the regiments saved and the regiments abandoned which formed a part of the senior general's brigade.

In obedience to this order I am directed by General Johnston to request your compliance with the wishes of the Present in these particulars with as little delay as possible, and report to these headquarters. Under the same direction General Johnston has requested a report from Colonel Forrest, detailing particularly the time and manner of his escape from Fort Donelson, and road he took, and the number of the enemy he met or saw in making his escape, and the difficulties which existed to prevent the remainder of the army from following the route taken by him in his escaped with his command.

I am, your obedient servant,


Assistant Adjutant-General.

SIR: I my supplemental report, which is forwarded through General A. S. Johnston, I have, as I conceived, substantially answered the points indicated in the order of the Secretary of War as unsatisfactory to the President; but, to be more specific and to reply directly to these points, I beg to say that-

1st. General Floyd reached Fort Donelson early on the morning of February 13, and, being my senior officer, assumed command. Up to that time we had no need of additional forces, for at that time the enemy had only about 20,000 troops, and we had a force fully sufficient to defend the place against that force, and I did not and could not know with what force they meant to invest us. We were attacked by that force on the 13th around our whole line, and after three or four hours of vigorous assault we repulsed his forces everywhere.

After General Floyd's arrival, being second in command, I could not without a violation of military usage, apply for re-enforcements; but I do not seek to shelter myself from responsibility by this consideration. Though the enemy's force greatly exceeded ours, we felt that we could hold our position against him until his large force of fresh troops arrived on the evenings of the 13th, 14th, and 15th. These arrivals of about 30,000 troops made it manifest that we could not hold the posi-