homes on condition of being sent at once to a field where battle was impending. Of the operations of the war it is deemed scarcely necessary to render accounts for the period prior to the report submitted to the Provisional Congress early in December. Since that date adverse fortune has attended our arms. We have suffered reverses at the battle of Fishing Creek, where our army under Major-General Crittenden was repulsed with heavy loss; at Fort Henry, which fell after a gallant defense against greatly superior forces; at Roanoke Island, where our loss was about 2,400, besides the artillery and munitions of war, and at Fort Donelson, where, after a heroic defense against overwhelming forces, the remnant of our army surrendered under circumstances not yet fully understood. Of these several disasters the only official report yet received is that of Fort Henry. From the copy therewith transmitted* it will be seen that Brigadier-General Tilghman, in command of the fort, mounted with eleven guns, was attacked by a fleet of gun-boats carrying fifty-four guns, and maintained his defense with steady courage until the number of guns fit for service was reduced to four and further effort became hopeless. The garrison which surrendered at this fort comprised 8 officers, 50 privates, and some 20 sick.
The defeat at the battle of Fishing Creek was, at the request of Major-General Crittenden, ordered to be made the subject of investigation by a court of inquiry. But the active operations of the opposing armies in Kentucky and Tennessee, the attack on the forts on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and the movements consequent on the fall of these forts have thus far prevented any report of the proceedings under this order from reaching the Department. Rumors industriously circulated to the prejudice of General Crittenden by the first fugitives from the battle-field are now believed to have been without foundation, and little doubt is entertained that strict inquiry will elicit the fact that if there was misconduct on the battle-field it can be imputed neither to the general, to the surviving chief, nor to his second in command, who died a patriot's death while fighting in the cause of his country and of freedom-the lamented Felix Zollicoffer.
Neither the fall of Roanoke Island nor of Fort Donelson have yet been communicated in official reports to the Department. + It is partially, no doubt, to the active movement of troops rendered necessary by these events that the delay in receiving these reports is to be attributed. Both of the disasters were accompanied by circumstances which in my judgment require the strictest investigation. Yet during the active movements of a campaign it is palpable that the Department is without the machinery necessary for such investigation. How is it possible, while every energy of every officer both in the Department and in the field is bent on the task of repairing these reverses, to detail officers of sufficient rank and in adequate numbers to constitute courts for inquiry into the conduct of general officers? How withdraw from active necessary duty not only the officers of the court but the witnesses? I am of opinion that no defeat, no disaster to our arms should be permitted to pas without rigid and thorough investigation. To make such investigation in all cases is the settled purpose of the Department, but to make that investigation prompt and efficient the aid of Congress is necessary, and the subject is respectfully
*See Series I, VOL. VII, p. 136
+But see Series I, VOL. IX, pp. 110-190, for reports of Roanoke Island, and Series I, VOL. VII, pp. 254-415, for reports of Fort Donelson.
61 R R-SERIES IV, VOL I