War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0407

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Page 407
OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA. Chapter XVII.


<NN>to the painful but unavoidable necessity of a small force yielding at last to an overwhelming one was all that could be expected officially at my hands.

If I had been at leisure and had determined to go into a detailed statement of all the facts and incidents within my knowledge I should equally have failed to cover the points raised in the accusations preferred against me by the Department. I never dreamed for a moment that I had done anything or had neglected any duty for which in my report of that battle I should find it necessary to present a defense against grave and dishonoring charges. But far less did i suppose it possible that I should be held responsible for failing to defend the Cumberland River and the capital of Tennessee with the insignificant means put at my command against an overwhelming force at least six times my own in numbers, advancing with perfect preparation by land and water.

It ought to have been understood that this fort could not withstand the force which the enemy were certain to bring against it. It was ill conceived, badly executed, and still worse located, with only thirteen guns of all calibers, the greater part of them small, and therefore useless. It had, in fact, only three effective guns, and an important portion of its defensive works was not commenced until enemy had made his appearance before it in force. It was to sustain a continued attack from the gunboat fleet, known for months to have been preparing in the West by the enemy for operations against our Western rivers, and numbering at least ten, carrying each probably sixteen to twenty guns of the largest caliber. These gunboats were to be seconded by a land force, drawn from an army in the West, well known to be organized on the most formidable scale, amounting, in the aggregate, to 200,000 men, all so stationed as to be easily concentrated on the banks of the Cumberland or any other Western river in the space of one week, heavy columns of which, at the time I was sent to Fort Donelson, were known to be moving upon the Cumberland River.

The naked fort, as I have described it, constituted the entire preparation of the Confederate Government for meeting the advance of this most formidable array up the Cumberland River. The little entrenchments of rifle pits around the encampments, constructed to defend our people against the land attack, were not completed until the morning of February 13, the men working all the night before upon them, the enemy having appeared in force and begun the attack on the preceding day.

I have caused a diagram of the fort and defenses around it to be made, which I append to this communication.* You will see from it that the river bounded our position entirely on the north and the encampment and batteries of the enemy surrounded us on every other side.

Again referring you particularly to my supplemental report of the 20th instant, heretofore forwarded through General A. S. Johnston to the War department, a copy of which is herewith sent,+ as containing minute answers to the points of inquiry embraced in your letter to me, I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,

JOHN B. FLOYD,
V-General, C. S. Army.

Honorable HENRY S. FOOTE,
Chairman, &c., House of representatives.

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* Not found.

+ See p. 270.

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U CHAP.XVII.] CAPTURE OF FORT DONELSON, TENN.

Statement of Captain jack Davis, of Texas.

I was in the different battles of Fort Donelson, and belonged to the outside forces; was captain of Company E, Colonel Gregg's regiment Texas volunteers. I was in the battles of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Was one of those taken prisoners, but made my escape on Sunday morning on a flat-boat across the river from Dover. To the best of my knowledge we were surrendered on Sunday morning between daylight and sunup.

Some hours before daylight we were aroused from our slumber (which by an arrangement of alternation, we were allowed to take) by the announcement that we were to retreat immediately. In pursuance of this announcement we immediately took to our line of march, and had advance some distance to an open field, when a halt was ordered. At this order the men became much dissatisfied. It was exceedingly cold and uncomfortable. We remained in this position until it was understood that we were surrendered, and we were ordered to march back to our quarters.

Our regiment belonged to V-General Clark's brigade, stationed at Honpkinsville, Ky. We reached Fort Donelson, to the best of my recollection, on the Monday evening preceding the battle; were in all the conflicts that occurred outside the fort. The great body of the soldier behaved with gallantry and valor, and had the most implicit confidence in the generals, which I believe the generals merited.

The enemy commenced the regular attack on thursday morning, their infantry assailing us on the right, while their batteries opened on our left. We had, so far as I am able to form an opinion, about 12,000 altogether, in the fort and outside. the whole body of our troops was not engaged in the battle of Thursday, reserves having been kept on the left, and, I suppose, also in the fort and between the fort and our entrenchments. I will here explain what I mean by entrenchments. They consisted of small saplings, with which that country abounds, thrown length along the outside margin of ditches, dug some 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep, the dirt having been thrown upon the saplings, and giving us a protection of about 5 feet. these ditches extended about 3 miles in length, the whole or the greater part of the work having been thrown up during the night of Wednesday, some slight additions and improvements having been completed on Thursday night.

The locality was most judiciously selected. This line of ditches was so constructed that it afforced a complete protection to the fort, which was situated in its rear, except on the water side, the fort being on the bank of the Cumberland River. The infantry of the both armies mainly consulted the battle on Thursday, the heaviest fighting having occurred on our right wing, the left being assailed with shot, shell, and grape from their batteries. Our loss on the right wing, from the best information I could obtain, amounted to from 50 to 100 killed, while that of the enemy, as I was informed, was not less than from 400 to 500 killed and wounded. on the left wing our loss amounted to from 4 to 6 killed.

On Thursday night I suppose that the various regiments were able, by alternately relieving each other, to obtain some partial repose, which was facilitated by having the reserves already referred to.

On Friday morning the fight was renewed about 8 or 9 o'clock, the battle, as on Thursday, having been chiefly confined to our right wing, the left being assailed by the enemy's sharpshooters. The battle continued on Friday between the infantry on both sides until about noon, resulting in about equal loss on both sided with that of the proceeding



Page 407
OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA. Chapter XVII.