All was quiet until the evening of the 14th (Friday), when four boats came around the point, arranged themselves in line of battle, and advanced slowly, but steadily, up the river to within 200 yards of our battery, and halted, when a most incessant fire was kept up for some time. We were ordered to hold our fire until they got within range of our 32-pounder. We remained perfectly silent, while they came over about 1 1/2 miles, pouring a heavy fire of shot and shell upon us all the time. Two more boats came around the point and threw shell at us. Our gunners were inexperienced and knew very little of the firing of heavy guns. They, however, did some excellent shooting. The rifled gun was disabled by the ramming of cartridge while the wire was in the vent, it being left in there by a careless gunner-being bent, it could not be got out-but the two center boats were both disabled, the left center (I think) by a ricochet shot entering one of the port-holes, which are tolerably large. The right center boat was very soon injured by a ball striking her on top, and also a direct shot in the port-hole, when she fell back, the two flank boats closing in behind them and protecting them from our fire in retreat. I think these two were not seriously injured. They must have fired near 2,000 shot and shell at us. Our columbiad fired about twenty-seven times, the rifled gun very few times, and the 32-pounders about 45 or 50 rounds each. A great many of our balls took effect, being well aimed. I am confident the efficiency of the gunboats is in the gun it carries rather than in the boat itself. We can whip them always if our men will only stand to their guns. Not a man of all ours was hurt, notwithstanding they threw grape at us. Their fire was more destructive to our works at 2 miles than at 200 yards. They overfeed us from that distance.
Our men all did well. I probably ought not to make any distinction, but will refer to the gallant conduct of John G. Frequa, a private and gunner. At the highest gun in my battery he stood perfectly straight, calm, cool, and collected. I heard him say, "Now, boys, see me take a chimney." The chimney and flag both fell. He threw his cap in the air, shouting to them defiance. "Come on, you cowardly scoundrels; a ball through a port-hole and the boat fell back. This boy is one of the prisoners so unnecessarily and wrongfully surrendered at Donelson-surrendered, with his comrades, while at his post Sunday morning, without any knowledge of what was being done and no chance for escape.
I was sent for by a colonel of a Tennessee regiment and was at Dover when the white flags were sent out early Sunday morning, and had no chance to communicate with my men or save them.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. G. BIDWELL.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN.
P. S.- I am here with the army, moving west somewhere.
JACKSON, MISS., September 30, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engagement between the Federal gunboats and our batteries at Fort Donelson, so far, at least, as my company was concerned in the engagement:
I was detached, by order of General Tilghman, from the Thirtieth Tennessee Regiment for heavy artillery service about one month, as well