War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0319 Chapter XVII. CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

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turn as promptly as possible to his position in the rifle pits. The necessity of this order is proved beyond all question by the result which quickly followed, for before General Buckner got back to his position he found the enemy advancing rapidly upon and into some of them, and he actually made so firm a lodgment into those on his right that he could not be dislodged. I further said that I was satisfied that Major Gilmer and General Floyd would sustain me in this view of the order imputed to me as error of judgment.

Before leaving Richmond I saw Major Gilmer, has a full conversation with him, and ascertain that his recollection and opinions fully sustained mine on this whole subject. I then addressed an official communication to you, referring you to the original and supplemental reports of Major Gilmer as sustaining me on the point, and requested that the specifications of error might remain open for further information. To this I have received no reply. General Floyd being in Western Virginia, I could not see him.

Such, sir, was the substance of my explanation to yourself and the President of the order of mine which you regard as having resulted in the surrender of the army; yet my communication addressed to you from Richmond remains unnoticed, and I still rest under the censure of this order.

From the above history of the operations of the army at Donelson it is manifest that the position of peril to which the army was reduced, which produced the necessity of its surrender, was caused by General Buckner's unsuccessful attack on the Wynn's Ferry road battery and his failure to hold his rifle pits and by his afterwards advocating the necessity of a surrender, and not by any error of judgment on my part; and yet in your order I am made to bear all the odium of that measure, while he who caused it is held blameless and uncensured. That I should feel deeply aggrieved by such treatment at the hands of my Government might be expected. Against such injustice I solemnly protest. If the Government is determined to shut its eyes to the light of truth, and at no time to do me justice, it is time for me to retire.

Again, after being so long held suspended I was ordered to report to General Brag for orders. He ordered me by telegram to report to General Van Dorn, and placed General Buckner in command of the division which General A. S. Johnston had organized for me, and which was under my command when I was suspended. I have twice reported to General Van Dorn, and yet I have no command now after the lapse of about a month. The Secretary of War has been informed by telegram of the state of facts. I have applied for permission to raise a new command of war volunteers or to take ten regiments of skeleton returned volunteers and fill them up, but have failed to get any favorable response.

Believing now that I am the victim of injustice; that my past services are not and never will be appreciated; being without command after every effort on my part to procure one, and believing that I can render the country no service, I am forced to the conclusion that it is my duty to retire from the service. Yet I have determined to make the very last effort at vindication and to procure a command before retiring finally from the service.

I need not say that the promotion of my juniors in rank, who, when promoted had fought no battle, had no experience in high command and little of any sort, taken from the very forces organized by myself as a part of the Army of Tennessee, of which I was the commander-promo