War of the Rebellion: Serial 104 Page 0898 KY., S.W. VA., TENN., N. & C. MISS., ALA., & W. FLA.

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Nashville, Tenn., May 25, 1865.

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Commanding Mil. Div. of the Miss. West of Alleghany Mountains:

I have the honor to submit the following report of my inspection of the defenses at Johnsonville, Fort Donelson, Clarksville, and Memphis, with accompanying drawings:*


I inspected this position February 24, 1865, with a view to constructing further defenses on both sides of the river. The garrison of this post previous to Hood's invasion built a redoubt for six guns on the spur of the hill overlooking the depot, and when the place was threatened in November, 1864, two advanced batteries and rifle-pits were thrown up to defend the post. The attack by Forrest's troops came from the opposite or western side of the river. As there were no redoubts on that bank the enemy planted his batteries so as to completely control the river at the landing and the landing itself, which was flat and entirely exposed to their guns. The position was not yielded, though the boats and warehouses were destroyed. Instructions were given after my examination to erect a fort opposite the landing at Johnsonville and an additional one on the hill of the east bank. The rapid march of events since and the determination to abandon this position as a depot have rendered additional forts unnecessary. The bridges on the Northwestern Railroad between Nashville and Johnsonville were defended by block-houses until Hood's invasion, which compelled the abandonment of this line. Of course these defenses and the bridges themselves were destroyed by the enemy. The reconstruction of these block-houses was commenced to protect the bridges against guerrilla gangs, but in consequence of the breaking up of the rebellion all labor on these defenses has been suspended.


I inspected this position February 26, 1865, in company with the commanding general. The fort is large and irregular, conforming to the ground. The gorge is flanked. Most of the line is broken into salient and re-entering angles. It has a good command, though in some parts the hill slopes are too steep to be swept by canister. The ditches were well excavated, so as to give steep scarps not readily scaled. Seven barbette guns constituted the armament at the date of my inspection. Twenty guns could readily be mounted in Fort Donelson, and the interior space is large enough for a regiment; besides, it is connected with the river by two lines of rifle-pits inclosing the buildings belonging to the post. The fort had a good magazine well covered; directions were given to the commanding officer to repair the slight damages which had occurred to the breast-height wattling and to keep the work in good order with his command. The garrison of Fort Donelson controlled to some extent the country about and especially the narrow strip toward the Tennessee and had a favorable influence upon the navigation of the Cumberland. The fort is unnecessarily large, simply to hold the position, but for a garrison large enough to extend its influence to patrol in all directions its magnitude is not inappropriate.


* See Plate CXIV, maps 4,5, and 6, and Plate CXV, maps 1 and 2, of the Atlas.