LOUISVILLE, February 15, 1862.
Major-General HALLECK, Saint Louis;
Our advance reached the river in front of Bowling Green yesterday. The enemy burned the turnpike bridge at 1 o'clock yesterday morning and evacuated the place. Our troops are building a bridge to cross. I had made arrangements to operate up the Cumberland and would have had two divisions at the river to embark to-morrow and Monday, but this evacuation of Bowling Green makes it proper to resume my original line on Nashville. The only question now is as to General Grant's safety. If he can hold his position a few days the main force of the enemy must fall back from there to protect Nashville. Can he do that? What sort of a position has he and what force? What officers are with him? Are there gunboats on both rivers to protect him? Please answer immediately. It will be several days before I can advance in force beyond Bowling Green, but I shall order a brigade forward as soon as we can cross.
D. C. BUELL,
SAINT LOUIS, February 15, 1862.
Brigadier-General BUELL, Louisville, Ky.:
The forces from Bowling Geen are concentrating at Clarksville. The garrison of Fort Donelson is estimated at 30,000. Unless I can have more assistance the attack may fail. The place is completely invested and four sorties have been repulsed. If possible send me more aid. No more troops can be sent from Cairo without danger from Columbus. The gunboats are all at Fort Donelson, but we find great difficulty in getting up the mortar boats against the current.
H. W. HALLECK,
LOUISVILLE, February 15, 1862
Major-General HALLECK, Saint Louis:
One division (twelve regiments and three batteries), under General Nelson, embark for the Cumberland to-morrow. I should have embarked myself at the same time with two divisions, to make the Cumberland a line of operations, but the evacuation of Bowling Green by the enemy and our own occupation of it yesterday make it proper to direct my whole force through that point.
D. C. BUELL,
SAINT LOUIS, February 15, 1862
Major General D. C. BUELL, Louisville:
Your telegram about division relieves me greatly. To move from Bowling Green on Nashville is not good strategy. Come and help me take and hold Fort Donelson and Clarksville and move to Florence, cutting the railroad at Decatur, and Nashville must be abandoned precisely as Bowling Green has been. All we want is troops in mass.