We advanced forward, however, in quick-time until, nearing the enemy, we halted for the purpose of gaining, if possible, some more definite idea of his position, the skirmishers having rallied on their battalion without (as I learned from Colonel Crook) being able to furnish very definite information. Colonel Cook and myself advanced a few paces beyond our commands, for the purpose of taking such observations as would enable us to direct the movements of our regiments to the best possible advantage. We discovered portions of the enemy's baggage at the distance of about 100 yards, just over the point of a hill in our front. Being thus better satisfied of their position, and that an engagement must immediately occur, we accordingly deployed as rapidly as possible in line of battle, my right resting on Colonel Cook's left and the Third Tennessee on my left. The enemy opened a terrific fire upon us about the time or before we had fairly executed the deployment. The force here against us consisted of one battery, supported by six infantry regiments, all of which ultimately engaged in the fight. I ordered my entire command of fire and load kneeling, as in that position the main body of the enemy's fire would and did pass over us.
The officers and men under me on this occasion evinced great coolness, bravery, and determination for success in this most unequal contest. They directed their fire with unusual accuracy, which told desperately and rapidly upon the enemy, who under its terrible effect and force gave ground, while w e advanced upon them 20 paces. A further advance would have lost on our part an advantage in position by which we had been very considerably benefited; and although the enemy continued their retreat until they had gone beyond the reach of our guns, it was not deemed consistent with the orders for the movements of our whole army on that day, as made known on the previous night from Generals Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner to myself and other commanders of regiments, to pursue the several forces any farther in that direction. Besides this, many of my arms (flint-lock muskets), by coming in contact with the melting snow, had become too inefficient for further use until they could be dried and put in proper order. My ordnance wagons were more than a half mile distant, and the men only had a few rounds of ammunition each remaining in their boxes. I marched my regiment therefore back to a better position, a distance of, say, 150 paces, ordered the men to put their pieces in order by drying them as rapidly as possible, sent for an additional supply of ammunition, made details to have my wounded taken from the field and properly cared for, and threw out a small number of skirmishers in connection with Colonel Cook, to notice the movements and position of the enemy, who reported that he had gone back beyond the Wynn's Ferry road, and could not be seen at all from the position of our late engagement.
I was informed on the afternoon of February 14 and again at a late hour of that night, by General Buckner and Colonel Brown, that, for the reasons given at the time (not material here to recite), the generals in command had determined to evacuate Donelson and move the whole of our troops to Nashville or in that direction, and orders were given me by Colonel Brown to prepare my command accordingly with rations, &c., for the march. I was further informed that to execute this purpose our whole army would at an early hour on the morning of the 15th move upon the right wing of the Federal lines, cut our way through, and march out in the direction stated. I was informed that the whole of the enemy's right were driven back, thus removing all further difficulty in the way of executing our purpose. I was every moment expecting to receive orders to march my regiment, together with the balance
23 R R-VOL VII