War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0305 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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OXFORD, MISS., May 15, 1862.


Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

I had expected the decision of the President on the case in which I was suspended from command at an earlier day, and I had hoped that when the facts were all known that he would see nothing in my conduct at Fort Donelson deserving censure. But I am not able to understand the delay in his action except upon the supposition that he is not yet satisfied.

All the facts are before him. I know of no material conflict between my statements and those of any other officers. There are several statements in General Floyd's report to the Secretary's order in which my memory and his are at variance; but these statements of his in no way affect me, and can have no possible influence in the decision of the President in my branch of the case. If, however, there were contradictory statements between General Floyd and myself, it would seem to me that they ought to be settled by the sworn testimony of five officers, whose testimony accompanies my reply to the Secretary's interrogatories. If the facts of the case had not been thus clearly made out, I should have felt it my duty to demand court of inquiry; but as such a court could only find the facts and give opinion thereon, and as the President already had these facts and give opinion thereon, and as the President already had these facts before him, I have deemed a court unnecessary, even if one could be ordered without injury to [the] service.

When it was determined by Generals Floyd and Buckner [that the command] could not be saved, but must be surrendered; when General Floyd, before parting with the command, had stipulated with general Buckner (not to myself), what could I do but acquiesce? If I had attempted to defeat their purpose, General Floyd would have resumed command and arrested me for insubordination. At least such was my understanding of his rights and powers and of my position and responsibilities as his junior in rank. General Floyd, in his late published reply to the Secretary's interrogatories, as well as in his telegram to General A. S. Johnston, says that he turned over the command to General Buckner; that he and General Buckner agreed that it was determined that the command could not be saved, &c., but he nowhere says I agreed with him or pretends that I was in favor of surrendering the command. Under the proof as it is before the President, I cannot understand in his mind (?) as to the facts. I feel conscious of having tried to do my duty at Donelson and of having served the Government of my country faithfully, and I confess I did not expect its censure.

When I was suspended from command I believed [the President] has acted under misapprehension of my position. As promptly as possible I answered the interrogatories of the Secretary, and sustained the statements by the sworn testimony of five officers as reputable as belong to the Army. In reply I was informed that the case would not be taken up until answer was received. Having rested under the displeasure of the Government for more than two months, it ought not to excite surprise that I am anxious to be relieved from his order.

I understand that the President has been informed that my horses and servants were taken across the river some time before I crossed myself. This statement is untrue, as my report and the proof in his possession will show. I had but one horse and one servant there; the horse was borrowed of General Clark. I did not leave Dover until the command was turned over and General Buckner had commenced preparing his communication to the Federal commanders, asking terms of