ject. The wagons are of but little use to us and might probably be sold to advantage there. He wishes orders also as to his remaining at Mill Springs with his regiment. He reports that it will be impossible to subsist his regiment there, owing to the condition of the roads and want of transportation, and asks permission to return to Somerset as soon as all the property is removed.
GEO. H. THOMAS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.
Washington, February 16, 1862
Major-General HALLECK, Saint Louis, Mo.:
You have Fort Donelson safe, unless Grant shall be overwhelmed for outside; to prevent which latter will, I think, require all the vigilance, energy, and skill of yourself and Buell, acting in full co-operation. Columbus will not get at Grant, but the force from Bowling Green will. They hold the railroad from Bowling Green to within a few miles of Fort Donelson with the bridge at Clarksville undisturbed. It is unsafe to rely that they will not dare to expose Nashville to Buell. A small part of their force can retire slowly towards Nashville, breaking up the railroad as the go, and keep Buell out of that city twenty days. Meantime Nashville will be abundantly defended by forces from all South and perhaps from here at Manassas. Could not a cavalry force from General Thomas on the Upper Cumberland dash across, almost unresisted, and cut the railroad at or near Knoxville, Tenn.? In the midst of a bombardment at Fort Donelson why could not a gunboat run up and destroy the bridge at Clarksville? Our success or failure at Fort Donelson is vastly important, and I beg you to put your should in the effort. I send a copy of this to Buell.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, February 16, 1862
Major-General McCLELLAN, Washington:
I am perfectly confident that if Buell moves from Bowling Green on Nashville we shall regret it. Think of it before you approve. I am certain that if you were here you would agree with me. If I had any doubts I would not insist. Fort Donelson and Clarksville are the key-points. Since the evacuation of Bowling Green the importance of Nashville has ceased.
H. W. HALLECK
SAINT LOUIS, MO., February 16, 1862
Hard fighting at Fort Donelson on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. At 5 p.m. yesterday we carried the upper fort, where the Union flag was flying last night. Telegraph line will reach Fort Henry on Tuesday. I am still decidedly of the opinion that Buell should not advance on Nashville, but come to the Cumberland wit his available forces,