United to Grant we can take and hold Fort Donelson and Clarksville, and by another central movement cut off both Columbus and Nashville Until Columbus is cut off we must retain large forces at Cairo, Bird's Point, Paducah, and Fort Henry. This is too great a loss of force on our side.
Commander Foote cannot return for some days. Four gunboats badly disabled. We have been obliged to break up two artillery companies for the gunboats and mortar boats. Have had no communication from Grant for three days, and cannot give the number of troops that have joined him. It is almost impossible to get the mortar boats up the river; they move very slowly. Can't expect much more aid from the Navy for several days. The mass of the force from Bowling Green are at Fort Donelson and threatening us from Clarksville.
I am also guarding Danville to prevent re-enforcements from Columbus. Have constructed a battery above Fort Donelson on the river to cut off communication with Clarksville and Nashville.
Unless we can take Fort Donelson very soon we shall have the whole force of the enemy on us. Fort Donelson is the turning point of the war, and we must take it at whatever sacrifice. Our men are in excellent spirits and fight bravely.
H. W. HALLECK,
WASHINGTON, February 16, 1862
Your dispatch received. Not too long. I appreciate your difficulties. Have heard that upper battery at Donelson is taken by our forces. Should Donelson fall, you will move on Nashville by either route which may at the time be quickens. A part of the column moving from Bowling Green towards Nashville might relieve Donelson, but the direct move on Nashville is the most important.
FORT DONELSON (via SMITHLAND), February 16, 1862
Major General H. W. HALLECK:
We have taken Fort Donelson and from 12,000 to 15,000 prisoners, including Generals Buckner and Bushrod [R.] Johnson; also about 20,000 stand of arms, 48 pieces of artillery, 17 heavy guns, from 2,000 to 4,000 horses, and large quantities of commissary stores.
U. S. GRANT.
GENERAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF CAIRO, Numbers 13.
Fort Donelson, February 16, 1862
The Second Division will occupy the right of the works, including Fort Donelson, and will be located to the best advantage for defense and comfort. General Smith, commanding the division, will designate the place for each brigade.
The First Division will occupy grounds at the south end of the works, and will be located by Brigadier General John A. McClernand, commanding.
40 R R-VOL VII