Extracts from report of the special committee on the recent military disasters at Forts Henry and Donelson and the evacuation of Nashville.
FEBRUARY 12-16, 1862.--Siege and Capture of Fort Donelson, Tennessee.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 7 [S# 7]
Resolutions creating committee.
Resolved, That a special committee be instructed to inquire into the military disasters at Forts Henry and Donelson and the surrender of Nashville into the hands of the enemy, and to report the result of their investigations as early as practicable.
Resolved (on motion of Thomas J. Foster, of Alabama), That the special committee appointed to investigate the late military disasters at Forts Henry and Donelson and the surrender of Nashville into the hands of the enemy be also instructed to investigate the causes of the surrender of Fort Henry; to ascertain by whom said fort was located; whether the commanding general had previously examined the site of said fort; whether the hills on the opposite side of the river were properly fortified, or whether were they fortified at all; and, if not, why they were not fortified at the time when labor and troops from Alabama were dispatched to Fort Henry for that purpose.
Resolved (on motion of Hon. H. C. Burnett), That the committee appointed to investigate the causes of our recent disasters at Forts Henry and Donelson, &c., be instructed to report to this House who was the senior general commanding at Fort Donelson during the engagements at that point; who was second in command, and who third in command; also why it was that the two senior generals in command abandoned the position, leaving the junior general to surrender; also to report why the transports then in the vicinity of Fort Donelson were not used in removing our forces from the presence of an overwhelming foe.
Special report on the surrender of Fort Donelson, &c.
Mr. Foote, on leave, reported from the special committee appointed to examine into the surrender of Fort Donelson, &c., as follows:
The special committee appointed to examine into the causes of the recent military disaster at Fort Donelson, and into the circumstances connected with the surrender of the city of Nashville into the hands of the enemy (to which committee various other collateral matters have been subsequently referred), beg leave to report that they have, in the performance of the duties assigned them, found it necessary to accumulate a large mass of testimony, all of which is herewith reported to this House for such action in regard to the same as shall be deemed expedient. It is recommended by the committee that the House do cause said testimony, together with such other as may be taken, to be printed for the use of the members.
H. S. FOOTE,
THOS. B. HANLEY.
THOS. J. FOSTER.
H. W. BRUCE.
The report was agreed to.
A true copy. Teste:
H. C. McLAUGHLIN,
Message of the President.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, April 1, 1862.
To the Hon. Speaker of the House of Representatives :
SIR: I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives a communication from the Secretary of War, affording, as far as practicable, the information sought by the "resolution of inquiry adopted by the House of Representatives in regard to the disasters at Forts Henry and Donelson," &c., and replying to the "additional resolution of the House of Representatives," adopted March 31,1862, calling for the official response of General A. S. Johnston to the interrogatories propounded to him in regard to those subjects; and also for a copy of the supplementary report of General Pillow in regard to the affair at Fort Donelson, &c.
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S A.,
Richmond, Va., March 31, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following answers, prepared by my predecessor in office, to the resolutions of inquiry adopted by the House of Representatives in regard to the disasters at Forts Henry and Donelson, &c.
I have just had the honor to receive a copy of the additional resolution of the House of Representatives, this day adopted, calling for the official response of General Albert S. Johnston to the interrogatories propounded to him in regard to those subjects ; and also for a copy of the supplementary report of General Pillow in regard to the affair at Fort Donelson, &c.
I have the honor to reply that the Department is informed that General Johnston is engaged, as rapidly as the circumstances of his command will permit, in preparing an answer to these inquiries, and it is not deemed expedient to submit General Pillow's supplemental report in advance of the other military documents by which it should be accompanied. Only a copy of this report has been submitted to the Department. The original is in possession of General Johnston, and will be forwarded by him, with the accompanying documents, in connection with his own report.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT.
I have the honor to submit the following answers to certain inquiries of the House of Representatives of which copies were furnished to this Department on the 11th instant. Much delay has intervened in the hope of receiving such report from the army in Tennessee as would render it possible to make full and satisfactory answer. Some of these reports are still delayed, and it is therefore considered due to the House to give all the information now possessed by the Department and to add hereafter whatever further details may be received. The inquiries and answers have been numbered for the sake of convenience:
1. At what period was it that the Confederate forces under General Johnston first established themselves in the city of Bowling Green and what was our force at that time and within the period of a week?
2. What was the force of the enemy at that period between Bowling Green and the Ohio River and where located?
General Johnston first established himself with the Confederate forces at Bow- ling Green early in October; the precise day not known.
There is nothing on file in the Department showing the number of his forces and those of the enemy at that period. It is, however, known that the enemy's force was largely in excess of that of General Johnston.
3. What prevented General Johnston at that time from making a forward movement towards the Ohio River? Was he restrained by instructions from the War Department or was he left to his own discretion in the matter?
The cause which prevented General Johnston from making a forward movement at that time towards the Ohio River was thus stated by him in a letter of October 22, 1861: "We have received but little accession to our ranks since the Confederate forces crossed the line; in fact, no such enthusiastic demonstration as to justify any movements not warranted by our ability to maintain our own communications." General Johnston was left to his own discretion in all his military movements, and was never at any time restrained by instructions from the War Department from moving his forces in any manner he deemed advisable.
4. What forces, if any, were sent from Bowling Green to Fort Donelson previous to the first battle at that place and under whose command?
5. What number of forces did General Johnston retain at Bowling Green up to the time of its evacuation?
6. Did General Johnston re-enforce or attempt to re-enforce the Confederate army at Fort Donelson during the progress of the conflicts at that place?
To these inquiries the only information that can be given must necessarily be derived from the official report of General Johnston, which has been called for but not yet received at the Department. It will be submitted as soon as received.
7. Is it within the knowledge of the War Department that any applications were made by the commanders of our forces at Fort Donelson during the progress of the conflicts at that place?
It is now known to the Department, through the reports of Generals Floyd and Pillow and the supplementary report of General Pillow, that no such applications for re-enforcements were made.
8. Was General Johnston restrained by orders from the War Department from sending re-enforcements or was he left to his own discretion in that regard?
No orders on the subject were issued from the Department. General Johnston's discretion on the subject was unrestrained.
9. What means of transportation had General Johnston at Bowling Green to enable him to reenforce Fort Donelson during the contests, had he been disposed to do so?
10. When were the fortifications at Forts Donelson and Henry constructed and in what mode?
11. Was there any military reconnaissance along the banks of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, with the view to judicious selections of places for fortifications, before the sites for Forts Henry and Donelson were selected?
On these subjects nothing is recorded in the books of the War Department.
12. Did General Johnston fall back from Bowling Green in accordance with instructions from the War Department or was he left to his own discretion in the matter?
General Johnston received no instructions from the War Department on this subject. He acted on this, as on all other questions of military movements and operations, in accordance with his own judgment. He counseled with Generals Beauregard and Hardee before withdrawing from Bowling Green.
13. Why was Nashville surrendered to the enemy?
14. Did General Johnston proceed upon his own discretion, or under instructions from the War Department, in regard to the act of surrendering that city into the hands of the enemy?
The reasons for evacuating the city of Nashville are given by General Johnston in his letter of February 25, of which a copy is hereto annexed, in doing this he acted on his own judgment and without instructions from the War Department.
15. When General Johnston, about October 1 last, made a call upon several of the States of the Southwest, including the State of Tennessee, for large numbers of troops, why was that call revoked? Was the act of revocation in pursuance of an order of the War Department or upon his own judgment merely?
General Johnston received no orders on the subject from the War Department; but in a private and confidential letter to him he was informed by the Secretary of War that the Government did not approve of calling fur unarmed men for a less period than the war; that the Government could procure unarmed men for the war in numbers as large as it could supply with arms; that it gave the preference to "war" men over "twelve-months" men in distributing arms; that unarmed twelve-months men were the most costly and least useful troops that could be called for, and that it was desirable he should call for no more men for a less period than three years or the war unless they came with arms.
16. Has the Department received any official report of the affair at Forts Henry or Donelson or touching the surrender of Nashville? If so, communicate the same.
The Department has already communicated all the reports received by it of the above-mentioned affairs, except a copy, unofficially communicated, of a supplementary report of General Pillow to General Johnston, which is retained until the original, as well as other reports, are received from General Johnston, so that the whole subject may be submitted together. The only report of the surrender, or rather the evacuation, of Nashville is contained in the letter of General A. S. Johnston above mentioned, and of which a copy is annexed. It is, however, known to the Department that General Johnston is engaged as actively as the exigencies of his command will permit in preparing for Congress full information on all the points suggested in the above inquiries, and it is hoped that the report will be received at a very early day.
Letter of General John B. Floyd to Chairman of Special Committee.
ABINGDON, VA., March 25, 1862.
SIR: Just as I was getting ready to leave Knoxville, where I had been ordered by Major-General Smith to assist with my command in the defense of that locality, I received your letter, sent back from Decatur, whither it had been first sent.
I had the day before received the order from the War Department relieving me from my command, and a letter preferring certain charges against me, for which, I suppose, this punishment was inflicted. To these charges I was required to answer, which I have done; and as they cover the points of inquiry pending before your honorable committee I have thought proper to send you, in answer to your inquiries, for the information of your committee, a copy of my answer to the charges of the War Department. The delay in responding to these inquiries has grown out of my failure to get the official documents requiring the answer until within a few days past.
I regret that my first report should have proved so unsatisfactory to the authorities of the Confederacy. It was, to be sure, written very hurriedly in my tent at night, after a long day's march, and after the business of that day and the preparations for the march of the next were completed. But I supposed that a simple narrative of the transactions which led through the terrible and most sanguinary fight of Fort Donelson to the painful but unavoidable necessity of a small force yielding at last, to an overwhelming one was all that could be expected officially at my hands.
If I had been at leisure and had determined to go into a detailed statement of all the facts and incidents within my knowledge I should equally have riffled to cover the points raised in the accusations preferred against me by the Department. I never dreamed for a moment that I had done anything or had neglected any duty for which in my report of that battle I should find it necessary to present a defense against grave and dishonoring charges. But far less did I suppose it possible that I should be held responsible for failing to defend the Cumberland River and the capital of Tennessee with the insignificant means put at my command against an overwhelming force at least six times my own in numbers, advancing with perfect preparation by land and water.
It ought to have been understood that this fort could not withstand the force which the enemy were certain to bring against it. It was ill-conceived, badly executed, and still worse located, with only thirteen guns of all calibers, the greater part of them small, and therefore use-leas. It had, in fact, only three effective guns, and an important portion of its defensive works was not commenced until the enemy had made his appearance before it in force. It wits to sustain a continued attack from the gunboat fleet, known for months to have been preparing in the West by the enemy for operations against our Western rivers, and numbering at least ten, carrying each probably sixteen to twenty guns of the largest caliber. These gunboats were to be seconded by a land force, drawn from an army in the West, well known to be organized on the most formidable scale, amounting, in the aggregate, to 200,000 men, all so stationed as to be easily concentrated on the banks of the Cumberland or any other Western river in the space of one week, heavy columns of which, at the time I was sent to Fort Donelson: were known to be moving upon the Cumberland River.
The naked fort, as I have described it, constituted the entire preparation of the Confederate Government for meeting the advance of this most formidable array up the Cumberland River. The little intrenchments or rifle pits around the encampments, constructed to defend our people against the land attack, were not completed until the morning of February 13, the men working all the night before upon them, the enemy having appeared in force and begun the attack on the preceding day.
I have caused a diagram of the fort and defenses around it to be made, which I append to this communication (Note: diagram not found). You will see from it that the river bounded our position entirely on the north and the encampment and batteries of the enemy surrounded us on every other side.
Again referring you particularly to my supplemental report of the 20th instant, heretofore forwarded through General A. S. Johnston to the War Department, a copy of which is herewith sent, as containing minute answers to the points of inquiry embraced in your letter to me, I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
JOHN B. FLOYD,
Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.
Hon. HENRY S. FOOTE,
Chairman, &c., House of Representatives.
Statement of Capt. Jack Davis, of Texas.
I was in the different battles of Fort Donelson, and belonged to the outside forces; was captain of Company E, Colonel Gregg's regiment Texas volunteers. I was in the battles of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Was one of those taken prisoners, but made my escape on Sunday morning on a flat-boat across the river from Dover. To the best of my knowledge we were surrendered on Sunday morning between daylight and sunup.
Some hours before daylight we were aroused from our slumber (which, by an arrangement of alternation, we were allowed to take) by the announcement that we were to retreat immediately. In pursuance of this announcement we immediately took to our line of march, and had advanced some distance to an open field, when a halt was ordered. At this order the men became much dissatisfied. It was exceedingly cold and uncomfortable. We remained in this position until it was understood that we were surrendered, and we were ordered to march back to our quarters.
Our regiment belonged to Brigadier-General Clark's brigade; stationed at Hopkinsville, Ky. We reached Fort Donelson, to the best of my recollection, on the Monday evening preceding the battle; were in all the conflicts that occurred outside the fort. The great body of the soldiers behaved with gallantry and valor, and had the most implicit confidence in the generals, which I believe the generals merited.
The enemy commenced the regular attack on Thursday morning, their infantry assailing us on the right, while their batteries opened on our left. We had, so far as I am able to form an opinion, about 12,000 altogether, in the fort and outside. The whole body of our troops was not engaged in the battle of Thursday, reserves having been kept on the left, and, I suppose, also in the fort and between the fort and our intrenchments. I will here explain what I mean by intrenchments. They consisted of small saplings, with which that country abounds, thrown lengthwise along the outside margin of ditches, dug some 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep, the dirt having been thrown upon the saplings, and giving us a protection of about 5 feet. These ditches extended about 3 miles in length, the whole or the greater part of the work having been thrown up during the night of Wednesday, some slight additions and improvements having been completed on Thursday night.
The locality was most judiciously selected. This line of ditches was so constructed that it afforded a complete protection to the fort, which was situated in its rear, except on the water side, the fort being on the bank of the Cumberland River. The infantry of both armies mainly conducted the battle on Thursday, the heaviest fighting having occurred on our right wing, the left being assailed with shot, shell, and grape from their batteries. Our loss on the right wing, from the best information I could obtain, amounted to from 50 to 100 killed, while that of the enemy, as I was informed, was not less than from 400 to 500 killed and wounded. On the left wing our loss amounted to from 4 to 6 killed.
On Thursday night I suppose that the various regiments were able, by alternately relieving each other, to obtain some partial repose, which was facilitated by having the reserves already referred to.
On Friday morning the fight was renewed about 8 or 9 o'clock, the battle, as on Thursday, having been chiefly confined to our right wing, the left being assailed by the enemy's sharpshooters. The battle continued on Friday between the infantry on both sides until about noon, resulting in about equal loss on both sides with that of the preceding day. The fighting on land ceased about noon, and the gunboats, four in number, opened upon the fort, which returned the fire, resulting, after a conflict of about one hour and a quarter, in but little, if any, damage to the fort, while all but one of the gunboats were disabled. I will be more particular:
The gunboats commenced the assault when about 1 ¼ miles from the fort, coming up four abreast and, continuing their fire until they were opposite the fort. The fort kept up a regular fire with guns of a smaller caliber, evidently reserving the heavy guns until the gunboats were within a distance of about 150 yards. The effect, as witnessed by our troops and by the citizens who had gathered on the hills around Dover, was beyond the power of description. After having received a shot from a 128-pounder one of the gunboats rolled towards the opposite bank of the river, silenced, crippled, and apparently unmanageable; a second soon shared the same fate; a third was totally disabled; and the fourth, turning her head, took to a precipitate flight down the river. The excitement at this time among the military and citizen spectators was intense and almost wild, the latter testifying their joy by tossing their hats in the air, and the former by a general huzza, commencing on the right wing and soon caught up and became universal along the entire line.
With the exception of some random shots from both sides there was no further fighting on that evening. On that night we received orders to cook three days' provisions and be ready for marching the next morning. We did not know whither we were to proceed, but we supposed in the direction of Fort Henry, to which it was believed the enemy were retreating.
On Saturday morning the battle was renewed about sunrise, commencing to-day on our left. At an early hour in the morning we were informed that we were to attack the enemy. This I regarded as an indiscreet though a bold movement, as we did not know the force of the enemy or the number and locality of his batteries.
Three of our regiments commenced the attack on the enemy's right, and the fight was kept up until they commenced retreating, when our batteries were brought to bear upon them. We pursued them over a mile, the regiment to which I belonged having been relieved and a fresh regiment having taken our place in the pursuit. From the movements of the enemy this morning I became convinced that when we can get within a hundred yards of the enemy they will not stand either a close fight or a charge. The result of to-day's fighting was much more disastrous to the enemy than on any of the preceding days, their loss being at least three to one. On each day our army took prisoners, varying in number.
Another result of to-day's battle was the capture by our troops of eleven or more pieces of artillery, five of which I know of myself; the capture of the others I learned from good authority and general belief. This battle continued until between 11 and 12 o'clock, the enemy at this time having been driven over a mile--perhaps a mile and a half--along their camp.
Our army returned, all believing that we had gained a signal victory, but later in the day the fight was renewed by an attack of the enemy on our right wing, with results on both sides more disastrous than at any previous period of the conflict. The disasters on our side were attributed to the fact that, for some cause unknown to me, a portion of our forces left their intrenchments, which were immediately occupied by the enemy. Our greatest loss occurred in connection with a successful and gallant charge, conducted by General Buckner, to dislodge the enemy from the intrenchments.
As to the subsequent surrender and the circumstances connected with it, I have no personal knowledge. We went to rest supposing ourselves completely victorious, but I was informed by several persons, especially by some prisoners, that on that night as well as on the night previous the enemy were re-enforced to an extent that increased their army to 80,000 men. Meanwhile we received no re-enforcements, although we had been led to believe that they were on their way to our relief from Bowling Green.
I have already referred to our movements on Saturday morning. When the intelligence of our surrender was communicated to the troops there was a general feeling of indignation, mingled with surprise, among all. The men were frantic to be permitted to fight their way out. It is my firm belief said the general impression that had a re-enforcement of 10,000 men reached us on Sunday morning we could have held out and secured a decisive victory.
Interrogatory by H. S. Foote. Had the steamer or steamers that were employed in taking off General Floyd and his command been employed in removing our men and munitions of war on Saturday night, could they have done so?
Answer. Yes; two boats could have taken the men and munitions of war in two hours. The enemy did not come within gunshot distance of ;he fort until after the surrender. Had some 5,000 men been kept in the intrenchments even on Sunday morning, we could have transferred across the river 10,000 men.
Captain Co. E, Col. John Gregg's Regiment Texas Volunteers.
Statement of Lieut. Col. Milton A. Haynes.
RICHMOND, VA., March 24, 1862.
SIR: In answer to the order of your committee, requiring me to report the facts connected with the defense and fall of Fort Donelson, I have the honor to inform you that on January 15 last I was ordered by Major-General Polk to proceed at once from Columbus, Ky., to Forts Henry and Donelson, to take charge of the artillery forces at those points. The next day I reported in person to Brigadier-General Tilghman at Fort Henry, and by his order was appointed chief of artillery of the Fourth Division, and directed to Fort Donelson, to take charge of the artillery there, he saying that for the present he would attend to Fort Henry.
That same day I proceeded to Donelson and at once entered upon my duty. There was but one artillery company (Captain Maney's light battery) there; but two volunteer infantry companies, under Captains Beaumont and Bidwell, had been detailed to man the heavy guns; but they had been but slightly and imperfectly trained, and Captain Bidwell's not at all. I at once organized these three companies into a battalion and placed them under daily instruction. I telegraphed to General Polk for officers of artillery to act as instructors, and he sent to me for duty Lieutenants Martin and McDaniel, who drilled the men daily at the heavy guns, and they were, under my own eye, taught to fire their guns at targets 1,000, 1,500, and 2,000 yards, and the elevation for particular range explained and taught to them. Every man in the battalion of artillery, nearly 300, who was fit for duty, was required to labor in mounting the guns, repairing and finishing the merions, embrasures, and platforms. A new bomb-proof magazine, near the main battery, approached by a bomb-proof covered way of capacity sufficient to hold 100 rounds for ten guns, was rapidly constructed, under the direction of Captain Beaumont, and Lieut. H. S. Bedford, acting adjutant of the battalion.
Capt. J.P. Shuster, who had reported to me for duty by order of General A. S. Johnston, was appointed chief of the battalion, and under his direction the ammunition and stores necessary for ten guns were arranged in the magazine, with matches, port-fires, lanterns, &c. The men were divided into detachments of 15 to a gun, with supernumeraries to each, and each detachment assigned under its chief to its gun and each man to his place at the gun, and their duties explained to them in case of an attack by day or night.
By February 10 we had our batteries finished and ten 32-pounder guns mounted, and there were only two other guns not mounted--the columbiad and rifled guns.
The 10-inch columbiad was mounted about January 25, but upon firing it the shock threw it back against the hurters, and the recoil threw the chassis off the pintle, and the counter-shock threw the muzzle of the gun so violently against the transom bar as to injure the carriage. In this condition (like the one at Fort Henry) it was useless. I therefore dismounted it, remodeled the platform, and sent an officer to the rolling-mill and had new real' traverse wheels cast 4 inches greater in diameter. These wheels were cast and sent to us only in time to enable us to remount this important gun. With its new wheels it worked like a charm.
The rifled gun, throwing a conical shell of 128 pounds, was sent to us about February I from Nashville, but neither pintle nor pintle plate (without which it could not be mounted) was sent with it. I at once sent Lieut. G. T. Moorman, of the artillery, to Nashville, to procure these and other fixtures necessary for this and other guns, and we only obtained these indispensable fixtures two days before the fight, and scarcely in time to mount this gun. It was, however, successfully mounted on the 11th.
Our batteries, being now in order, were manned and commanded as follows: Captain Beaumont's company at the five 32-pounders next the river; Captain Bidwell's company, with the other four guns, to the left, including the 10-inch columbiad; each with several lieutenants, all under the eye of Captain Shuster, commander of battalion; Captain Dixon, engineer, and Lieut. Jacob Culbertson, C. S. Army, on special duty with me. Captain Ross (just arrived from Hopkinsville), having given up his light battery, with his men took charge of the half-moon battery, composed of the rifled gun and two ship carronades, furnishing a detachment, under Lieutenant Stankieuriz (Captain Taylor's company), to man the 8-inch howitzer and the two 9-pounder nondescripts. Captain Maney's light battery took post on the left of the rifle trenches, in General Pillow's division, and was not under my further charge. The light battery and horses of Captain Ross' company were placed under Lieutenant Parker, with a volunteer infantry company to man them, and stationed at the grave-yard, above Dover.
On the 12th (Wednesday) the gunboats made their approach, but did not venture within the range of our guns; but early the next morning, a vigorous attack having been made upon our whole line by the enemy, the gunboats opened a spirited fire upon our batteries, throwing during the forenoon about 150 shot and shells from large rifle and smooth-bore guns. Their fire was returned with spirit by our guns, a shot piercing one at her water line and compelling it to fall back. Unfortunately a single rifle shell from one of the enemy's guns dismounted one of our 32-pounder guns, instantly killing the brave Captain Dixon, disabling for the time Captain Shuster, and killing and wounding several privates. I immediately placed Lieutenant (acting captain) Culbertson in charge of the 10-gun battery, and took my post at the river battery, although not able to walk without crutches, and then only with great pain.
In the afternoon, our army being hotly engaged along our whole line, the gunboats renewed the attack, keeping up a continual discharge of shot and shells, without, however, doing much damage. Our own fire was carefully withheld, in order to draw the boats nearer to us, and, as was expected, they soon ventured within range. A few well-directed shots from our rifled gun and columbiad soon drove them back, one of their boats being, as I learned that night, with difficulty kept from sinking. At the close of the day the contest by land and water ceased, and our batteries were visited by Generals Floyd and Pillow, and our artillerists complimented by them, General Floyd ordering the dismantled gun to be that night, if possible, remounted. Upon an inspection made by Major Gilmer, of the Engineers, and myself, I ordered a detail of 12 artificers and carpenters for that purpose.
On the next day the increased pain and inflammation of my wound rendered it impossible for me to remain longer at the batteries, and the next day I was, by direction of Surgeon Williams, placed on board a steamer, with the wounded, to be sent up the river.
During my service at Fort Donelson, both before and in the engagement at that place, I was under obligations to Acting Adjt. W. W. Foote, (a boy only sixteen years old), and to Lieut. H. S. Bedford, adjutant of artillery battalion, for the prompt and faithful discharge of the arduous and dangerous duties which they had to perform.
I cannot close this statement of the brief and humble part which I performed in preparing and maintaining the defenses of Fort Donelson without expressing my particular obligations to Lieut. J. Culbertson, of the C. S. Army, on special duty, and Lieutenants Bedford and Cobb, of the Ordnance Department, for the zeal and energy displayed by them in superintending the work at the batteries and valuable services during the engagement, in all of which they were greatly assisted by Capt. T. W. Beaumont and his subalterns; nor to Lieutenants Martin and McDaniel, of the Tennessee Corps of Artillery, for their untiring energy in imparting instructions to the battalion of artillery under my command; nor can too much be said in praise of the volunteer infantry, who, after three or four weeks' instruction, in the midst of toil and labor, both day and night, acquired such skill in the management of their guns as to be able to maintain successfully a four days' cannonade against a flotilla of gunboats carrying twice as many and better guns than theirs, crippling at least five of them, and compelling their flag-officer, Foote (himself wounded), to withdraw his fleet entirely from the hopeless effort to pass their batteries; nor in this need of praise should the gallant Captain Ross and Lieutenant Stankieuriz (both old artillery officers), with their subalterns and privates, be forgotten.
Our success was greatly due to the admirable position of our guns, rising gradually from the river to an elevation of 50 feet, thus affording a plunging fire, and from the narrowness of the river (only 500 feet wide) enabling us to throw our balls into the holds of the boats and cripple their machinery.
I may here add, from information derived from some of the parties, that on Saturday night Captain Bidwell and one private of artillery, Lieutenant Burr and about 40 men, and all the horses of Captain Porter's light battery and Colonel Forrest's regiment of cavalry and many stragglers from various corps, made good their retreat without meeting any obstruction from the enemy.
In justice to myself, as I was in charge of the artillery for a short time at Fort Donelson, I ought to add that I had nothing whatever to do with the exterior defenses of the place, which were arranged under the direction of the commanding general and engineers.
In my opinion the site itself was the most unfortunate--first, because the space inclosed by the trenches formed a cul-de-sac, divided in the middle by a sheet of backwater, thus rendering communication between the wings of our army difficult and hazardous; second, because the area inclosed, though strong itself, was surrounded at a distance of from 800 to 1,200 yards by a range of hills higher than those occupied by us, thus affording a commanding position (eagerly seized by the enemy) for their batteries of rifled guns, from which they could reach every point within our lines.
Hence the utmost courage and endurance could not and did not avail to save us from disaster; but the deeds of daring performed by our army will form the brightest picture in the pages of our history and render the names of the heroes who fell on Dover's blood-stained hills immortal.
MILTON A. HAYNES,
Lieutenant-Colonel, and Chief of Corps of Tennessee Artillery.
Major Munford's answers to interrogatories of Special Committee.
(Note: Interrogatories not found)
Answer 1st. General Johnston did not take command in person at Bowling Green till October 28, 1861. He arrived there on the 14th, and General Buckner remained in command till the 28th.
Answer 2d. The force under Buckner when General Johnston arrived was a fraction under 6,000, and were being re-enforced by Major-General Hardee's division, of about 5,000, and Colonel Terry's regiment of Texas Rangers, about 1,000, making the force before General Johnston took immediate command within a fraction of 12,000. I have not the means of stating the weekly increase. Disease fell upon the army, particularly measles, both at Bowling Green and at the different rendezvous for fresh enlistments which had not been turned over to the Confederacy. It was a terrible scourge, and the ranks were so thinned that on the last of November our effective force was estimated at 12,500, showing no material increase for more than a month.
Answer 3d. I do not know. General Buckner took possession of Bowling Green on September 17 with about 4,000 troops. I have heard, and believe it to be true, that as Buckner moved in on one side of Kentucky Rousseau moved in on the other. Rousseau's force, or the number of Home Guards, who were regarded as equally hostile to us, I do not know, nor have I heard. This, however, is true: that on October 4 General Buckner dispatched to General Johnston at Columbus that the enemy, 13,000 or 14,000 strong, were advancing upon him; that his own (Buckner's) force was "less than 6,000," and asked for re-enforcements.
It was this dispatch which led to re-enforcing Bowling Green as promptly as possible with Hardee's division and Texas cavalry. Stanton's regiment, from Overton County, was also ordered to that place, but in consequence of depredations of Home Guards had to be sent back to repress them. Another regiment was also ordered to Bowling Green, but, as now remembered, was not carried forward because it was unarmed and there were no arms to give them. The more rapid advance of the enemy had been checked by burning the bridge over Rolling Fork.
Answer 4th. I have heard General Johnston assign many reasons for not ordering General Buckner to advance in the first instance to Muldraugh's Hill. He regarded that position as unsuited for a base of military operations and as possessing but slight strategic importance. It was beyond the Green River, the navigability of which had to be destroyed to prevent the enemy from moving by water from Paducah, Cairo, and other points in Buckner's rear. With that navigable stream open, they could transport upon it not only troops, but the heaviest ordnance and other munitions of war, and effectually cut Buckner's line of communication with Tennessee and the South, whence his supplies of men and munitions must be drawn. Buckner's force was small (about 4,000); his troops were fresh, most of them ill armed and many ill disciplined; their general appointments for a campaign defective: and, being wholly without transportation, they would have been tied down to the railroad.
The line of Barren River, however, on which Bowling Green is, he regarded as a good base of operations, the advance column occupying the country to the Green River, and Bowling Green being in supporting distance from Tennessee, from and through which supplies and re-enforcements must come if unexpectedly the Kentuckians failed to rush to Buckner's standard at his approach. He regarded it as necessary to hold Bowling Green, not only till the navigability of the Green River was destroyed, but to make it a depot of supplies. He also thought it should be fortified, that it might be garrisoned and held by as small a force as possible, to increase thereby the numbers for the field. If a superior force should advance on that position by being fortified, compensation would be had for disparity of numbers.
Answer 5th. As nearly as I can ascertain, between 3,000 and 4,000, the balance of his force being distributed along the turnpike on the march to Nashville.
General Johnston had ordered on Friday, before the conflicts at Donelson, that preparations be made to evacuate Bowling Green. The army began the march on Tuesday, and the troops remaining were engaged in removing Government stores by the railroad. They were under the command of Brigadier-General Hindman, and detained for that purpose.
Answer 6th. For the troops along the turnpike, none. They would have been compelled to march. For those at Bowling Green, who were still engaged in removing the stores, the engines and cars on hand; what number of either I do not know. The railroad runs to Clarksville; steamers thence to Donelson.
Answer 7th. See No. 5.
Answer 8th. I do not know nor have I the means of ascertaining. Answers 9th and 10th. I do not believe re-enforcements were asked of General Johnston by either General Floyd, Pillow, or Buckner, or any other commander there during those conflicts. I had access to the dispatches; think I read every one. I never saw such a request, except when I heard it reported in Richmond that General Johnston had been asked by the generals at Donelson. I thought it a mistake then, and as no member of this staff ever saw such a dispatch, I am confirmed in that impression. The generals at Donelson can settle it, and I entertain no doubt that they will all assert that no re-enforcements were asked for, as they knew how much the command had been weakened by sending Floyd's and Buckner's forces to that place, and how greatly larger was the enemy's forces pressing on his rear, as well as the fact that General Johnston's troops were on their march between Bowling Green and Nashville and could not get there in time to do any good.
And further I say not.
ED. W. MUNFORD.
Extract from letter of Major Munford to committee, covering the foregoing.SIR: With this note be pleased to receive answers to the interrogatories propounded to me by yourself as the chairman of the special committee of the House. They have been prepared from the records, from my own memory of facts, and from such other sources of information as I knew to be reliable, and are sent with the hope that both you and the committee may be somewhat assisted by them in arriving at the truth.
ED. W. MUNFORD.
Hon. HENRY S. FOOTE, &c.
Testimony of Col. John McCausland and Capt. F. P. Turner.
The following are the questions propounded to Col. John McCausland, of the Thirty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, and Capt. F. P. Turner, Company G, Thirty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers:
1st. How long had you been serving in the command of Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd prior to the surrender of Fort Donelson?
Answer by Colonel McCausland. I have been serving in that brigade from August last until after the surrender of the fort in question.
2d. Were you with your regiment in the contest at Fort Donelson which resulted in its surrender by the Confederate troops?
Answer by the same. I was.
3d. Was the army, in your opinion, in such a condition on Saturday morning preceding the surrender of Donelson on Sunday morning as to have rendered it possible to enable it to cut its way through the enemy's lines and make its escape without a surrender; and, if so, what, in your judgment, must have been the loss by such an effort, whether successful or unsuccessful
Answer by the same. I do not think it would have been possible for our troops to have cut their way through the enemy's lines. An attempt would certainly have resulted in the loss of one-half of our entire army, including the whole baggage, army supplies, and artillery.
4th. When did the steamboats, upon which General Floyd and a portion of his command escaped from Donelson, arrive at that point!
Answer by the same. They did not arrive until Sunday morning about daylight., and when they did arrive they were loaded---one with corn and the other with ammunition and provisions, brought for immediate use.
Colonel Thirty-sixth Virginia Regiment.
The same questions being propounded to Captain Turner, lie says he concurs in the responses made by Colonel McCausland, and adopts his statements above as his to the same questions.
F. P. TURNER,
Captain Company G, Thirty-sixth Virginia Regiment.
Interrogatories propounded to Colonel Russell.
1st. How long was your regiment a part of General Floyd's brigade?
2d. What was the number of your regiment at Fort Donelson in the battle which led to the surrender?
3d. How many were absent on furlough, sick leave, and otherwise, and where were they?
4th. How many escaped with General Floyd from the surrender?
5th. How many escaped after the surrender who were on the field of battle and what means were open to them of effecting their escape?
6th. Where was your regiment when the other portion of General Floyd's brigade escaped and what were they engaged in doing?
7th. Why did they occupy the position assigned them?
8th. How wide is the backwater of the slough over which the men of your regiment escaped? Did your son and others make their escape across that water? Relate the circumstances of their escape.
9th. Was that portion of your regiment on duty wholly left at Donelson or not?
10th. State any other facts you know or have learned bearing upon the case.
Answers of Col. Daniel R. Russell to questions propounded by Special Committee of the House of Representatives.
Answer to 1st interrogation. My regiment joined General Floyd about September 25, 1861, and was with him about five months.
Answer to 2d. A memorandum from my adjutant, sent to me, shows an aggregate, on February 13, of 552.
Answer to 3d. I cannot answer accurately without my regimental books. The aggregate of the regiment was something over 800; thus the number absent would be about 250. Some were at their homes sick and on furlough; some at Nashville, Clarksville, and elsewhere in hospitals, and some on detached service at Cumberland City and elsewhere, teamsters, &c.
Answer to 4th. I have been able to hear of but one man (him I saw), by name Henry Williford. After the boat pushed off he says he jumped into the water and clambered over the guards of the boat. It is possible some wounded went up with General Floyd. The boat used by General Floyd was the General Anderson.
Answer to 5th. I do not know certainly. I have seen 5 men, communicated with others, and suppose, from all I can learn, about 25. Their means of escape were rafts to cross the river or skiffs, or to wade through a sheet of backwater in the rear and left of the army.
Answer to 6th. I do not know, except from narration of those who were in the field, officers and others, who say they were drawn up in military order on the bank of the river near where the Anderson backed, and that they were guarding the gangways to the boat, to secure order in embarking the troops. My regiment, in the march from Clarksville, was the left and rear of Floyd's brigade, and I suppose was still in that position, and hence would be last to embark, unless the order of march was reversed.
Answer to 7th. I have never seen the slough, but have been told by persons who waded through it on Sunday morning that it was about 50 yards wide. My son made his escape with Adjutant Couper and Lieutenant Conway after they were ordered to stack arms. They waded the slough, which my son says was about breast-high to him, and then they marched, without encountering the enemy, to the railroad, reaching it at Columbia, Tenn.
Answer to 8th. I have heard of no one who was not left that was on duty on the field. Williford made his escape, as stated above, after the boat left.
DAN. R. RUSSELL,
Colonel Twentieth Mississippi Regiment.
Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
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