War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0303 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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boats that brought over the troops. Myself and staff then made our way to Clarskville by land. These facts explain how a portion of the command were withdrawn when the balance could not be. However, I had no kind of agency in it.

3rd. In response to the third point upon which information is called for by the Secretary's order, viz, upon what principle the senior officers avoided responsibility by transferring the command, I have only to say that I urged from first to last the duty of cutting through the enemy's lines with the entire command. I was not sustained, but was alone in my position; and with General Buckner's avowal that his troops could not make another fight, and without the assistance of either general in the command, and in an enterprise of great difficulty and peril, I could scarcely hope to cut through the enemy's line unaided. Yet it was against my conviction of duty to surrender. Under the circumstances in which I was placed I saw no means of defeating the surrender, and, therefore, considering myself only technically the recipient of the command, when turned over by General Floyd, I promptly passed or declined to accept it.

It was in this sense that I said my original report that when the command was turned over to me I passed it. In point of fact, however, the command was turned over by General Floyd to General Buckner. In proof of which I embody in this report a dispatch from General Floyd to General A. S. Johnston on the morning of February 16. I also embody an order of General Buckner, after he had assumed command, to Brigadier General B. R. Johnson.

CUMBERLAND CITY, TENN., February 16, 1862.


This morning at 2 o'clock, not feeling willing myself to surrender, I turned over the command to General Buckner, who determined a surrender of the fort and the army, as any further resistance would only result in the unavailing spilling of blood. I succeeded in saving half of my own command by availing myself of two little boats at the wharf, all that could be commanded. The balance of the entire reserve of the army fell into the hands of the enemy. The enemy's force was largely augmented yesterday by the arrival of thirteen transports, and his force was largely augmented yesterday by the arrival of thirteen transports, and his force could not have been less than 50,000. I have attempted to do my duty in this ruing an difficult position, and only regret that my exertions have not been more successful.


HEADQUARTERS, Dover, Tenn., February 16, 1862.

SIR: The command of the forces in this vicinity has devolved upon me by order of General Floyd. I have sent a flag to General Grant, and during the correspondence and until further orders you will refrain from any hostile demonstrations with a view to preventing a like movement on the enemy's part. You will endeavor to send a flag to the enemy's posts in front of your position, notifying them of the fact that I have sent a communication to General Grant from the right of our position, and desire to know his present headquarters.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.

These orders show that all parties understood that the command was turned over, not to myself, but to General Buckner. The reason for this was obvious. Both Generals Floyd and Buckner were of opinion that surrender of the command was a necessity of its position. They had both heard me say that I would die before I would surrender the command. General Buckner had said if placed in command he would make the surrender, and he had agreed with Genera Floyd that he might withdraw his brigade. This understanding and agreements and my position necessarily excluded me from actual command.