War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0863 Chapter XVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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convinced that it is not to any fault of his that the disaster at Somerset is to be attributed.

3rd. To aid General Beauregard at Columbus I send others to General Lovell to forward to him at once five or six regiments of his best troops at New Orleans.

4th. i have sent to Memphis arms for Looney's regiment; to Knoxville 800 percussion muskets; to Colonel Chalmers 800 Enfield rifles for his regiment, and to you 1,200 Enfield rifles. The Enfield rifles will be accompanied by a full supply of fixed ammunition. They form part of a small cargo recently received by us, and of the whole number (6,000) one-third is thus sent to you, besides which we send 1,600 to Van Dorn.

5th. We have called on all the States for a leave of men for the war, and think that in very few weeks we shall be able to give you heavy re-enforcements, although we may not be able to arm them with good opens. But we have another small cargo of Enfield rifles close by, and hope to have some 10,000 or 12,000 safe in port within the next two or three weeks.

I forgot to say that the rifles already received may not reach you for eight or ten days, as they were introduced at a port quite far south.

I am, your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT,

Bowling Green, Ky., February 8, 1862.

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War:

SIR: No reliable particulars of the loss of Fort Henry have yet reached me. This much, however, is known, that nearly all of the force at Fort Henry retreated to Fort Donelson, and it is said that General Tilghman and about 80 officers and men surrendered in the fort.

The capture of that fort by the enemy given them the control of the navigation of the Tennessee River, and their gunboats are now ascending the river to Florence. Operations against Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland, are about to be commenced, and that work will soon be attacked. The slight resistance at Fort Henry indicates that the best open earthworks are not reliable to meet successfully a vigorous attack of iron-clad gunboats, and, although now supported by a considerable force, I think the gunboats of the enemy will probably take Fort Donelson without the necessity of employing their land force in co-operation, as seems to have been done at Fort Henry.

Our force at Fort Donelson, including the force from Fort Henry and three regiments of General Floyd's command, is about 7,000 men, not well armed or drilled, except Heiman's regiment and the regiments of Floyd's command. General Floyd's command and the force from Hopkinsville is arriving at Clarksville, and can, if necessary, reach Donelson in four hours by steamers which are there.

Should Fort Donelson be taken, it will open the route to the enemy to Nashville, giving them the means of breaking the bridges and destroying the ferry-boats on the river as far as navigable.

The occurrence of the misfortune of losing the fort will cut off the communication of the force here under General Hardee from the south bank of the Cumberland. To avoid the disastrous consequences of such