War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0314 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA. Chapter XVII.

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The supplemental report will be filed in a few days. From these reports [you] will, I am persuaded, be satisfied that my order was not only a proper one, but that it was the means of saving the army from a conflict with a large fresh force of the enemy, which would greatly have endangered its existence, and that General buckner was himself in error in supposing that my order had defeated or had any reference to the army retreating from the battle-field. That step was never contemplated or spoken of or even suggested as proper. It is difficult to understand how he could have taken up such impression, and it is singular that if my order had interfered with the previously-understood programme of action, why General Floyd should have so promptly approved my order, as General Floyd should have so promptly approved my order, as General Buckner himself states in his report, and why neighed he nor General Floyd should have said something about it.

I hope to make the point clear by other testimony, when I trust, the Department will perceive the justice of rescinding the orders.



Brigadier-General, C. S. A.

RICHMOND, VA., September 18, 1862.


Secretary of War:

In the personal interview with the President and yourself explanatory of the errors of judgment which I am considered by the Government to have committed (as stated in the order of August 22 past), I understood that the Government was satisfied that I was opposed to the surrender of the army of Donelson, and that in regard to the surrender my error consisted in nor accepting the command when turned over by General Floyd to General Buckner for the purpose of capitulation and myself fighting it out (if I believed that was practicable), or of surrendering the command and myself with it. I have stated in my correspondence with the Department that I consider the action of Generals Floyd and Buckner in determining that the command could not be saved but must be surrendered was binding upon me, and that I refused to accept the command to carry this determination (by a surrender) into effect. The decision of the President upon the point settles the question, and I accept that decision as the law of the case, and acknowledge myself relieved of a questioned upon which (suddenly sprung upon men) my mind was never free from doubt.

The other error, as I understand your explanation of the order, consisted in the order I gave after our army had driven the enemy from all his positions in front of our lines, where he was slowly falling back upon his large fresh force of 20,000 men at the gunboat landing.

My order was to draw off from further pursuit, and for our forces to return to our line of defenses. This order was given to avoid a conflict, after a long and bloody battle, with the enemy's large body of fresh troops, which I was satisfied would be brought to the field, and which I knew we could not withstand in the exhausted condition of our small force. I had kept up the fight with the forces under my immediate command for the last two hours by carrying ammunition in boxes upon the heads of details from the command for that purpose, my supply of 60 rounds having been exhausted in the long struggle, and no wagon could go to the battle-field on account of the thick undergrowth and want of road. The order that I gave had no other object, and when its object.