War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0037 Chapter XXXV. ATTACK ON FORT DONELSON, TENN.

Search Civil War Official Records

off-horse was shot dead in his harness, and as the infantry had by this time retired, they were compelled to abandon it.

After the enemy were foiled in their first attempt to charge from up the river, they soon rallied, and, led on by Forrest himself, they again moved forward in a solid, motley mass, moving down the river to a point near the jail, and there by the flank up the street toward the southward, then forward in successive lines of battle between our northern line of base and the river, filling the whole open space with mounted men and the air with yells of triumph.

In an instant the siege gun was doubled-shotted with canister and turned upon them and discharged, tearing one man to atoms and two horses, within 10 feet of the muzzle. At the same time I ordered my infantry out of the ravine from the west to meet the charge, and right gallantly did they obey. They met the enemy at the crest of the ridge, and the simultaneous discharge of 300 Springfield rifles and a double shot of canister from the siege gun was too much for them; the line gave way and their yells suddenly ceased. The Eighty-third boys with fixed bayonets soon cleared the ground, capturing about 40 prisoners.

After gun Numbers 1 had been taken from its position, near the east end of the rifle-pits, and sent up to the assistance of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith at the graveyard, Company H, which had been supporting it on the left, was ordered to take a position inside the rifle-pits near the south-west corner, where they did good work against the right of the force pressing against Colonel Smith, and at a time when there was danger of his left being turned by the enemy. Company H, Captain Bodn, again moved out and occupied barn and other buildings about midway between the corner of the rifle-pits and Colonel Smith's position, and, using sacks of grain and bales of hay for protection, were successful in keeping the enemy at bay in that quarter.

After Company H left the position of gun Numbers 1, Company A moved down and took position at the northeast corner of the rifle-pits, while Company K was posited in the rifle-pits at the southeast, and at the corner of the church, with Company A. Here these two companies successfully repelled two charges, one by cavalry and one by men dismounted, the enemy outnumbering us ten to one. In one of these charges Captain Reed, Company A, was shot dead while doing his duty bravely and encouraging his men in the defense of the position; they held their post till the close of the engagement. In this last charge the rebel Colonel McNairy was shot down while vainly endeavoring to bring his men forward to the charge.

After the repulse of the charge against the siege gun, and after Colonel Smith had sent his disabled artillery to the rear, the companies lying in the ravine near the siege gun were ordered forward to the support of Colonel Smith's right, as the enemy were advancing in large numbers over the ridge and down to the river bluff. They moved forward in line of battle, driving the enemy before them, until they came within range; the line was halted, volley after volley was delivered until our supply of ammunition was exhausted. While in this position, Captain John McClanahan was wounded and Lieutenant [H. D.] Bissell, quartermaster, shot dead by a cannon-ball. This was about sundown. Our line then moved by the right flank and filed around the point of the ridge and up the river bank to a point occupied by what is known as Mrs. Cable's house, where they were sheltered to a great extent by the crest of the bluff. About this time the enemy's fire ceased, and we lay thee in breathless suspense, expecting a last and possibly a successful charge of the enemy, but determined to fight it to the bitter end. Here