FORT HENRY TO CORINTH
CAMPAIGNS OF THE CIVIL WAR.—II.
FORT HENRY TO CORINTH
LATE BRIGADIER-GENERAL AND BREVET MAJOR-GENERAL, U.S.V., COMMANDING FIRST DIVISION, SEVENTEENTH CORPS.
NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Facsimile Reprint Edition from the original edition of 1881-1883 by The Archive Society, 1992. Address all inquiries to:
The Archive Society 130 Locust Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
I have endeavored to prepare the following narrative from authentic material, contemporaneous, or nearly contemporaneous, with the events described.
The main source of information is the official reports of battles and operations. These reports, both National and Confederate, will appear in the series of volumes of Military Reports now in preparation under the supervision of Colonel Scott, Chief of the War Records Office in the War Department. Executive Document No. 66, printed by resolution of the Senate at the Second Session of the Thirty-seventh Congress, contains a number of separate reports of casualties, lists of killed, wounded, and missing, which do not appear in the volumes of Military Reports as now printed. Several battle reports are printed in volume IV., and in the "Companion," or Appendix volume of Moore's Rebellion Record, which are not contained in the volumes of Military Reports as now printed. The reports of the Twentieth Ohio and the Fifty-third Ohio, of the battle of Shiloh, have never been printed. Colonel Trabue's report of his brigade in the battle of Shiloh has never been officially printed; but it is given in the history of the Kentucky Brigade from Colonel Trabue's retained copy, found by his widow among his papers.
The Reports of the Committee on the Conduct of the War contain original matter in addition to what appears in reports of battles and operations.
The reports of the Adjutant-Generals of the different States, printed during the war, often supplement the official reports on file in Washington.
Some regimental histories, printed soon after the close of the war, contain diaries and letters and narrate incidents which enable us in some cases to fix dates, the place of camps, and positions in battle, which could hardly otherwise be determined with precision. Newspaper correspondents, while narrating what they personally saw, give descriptions which impart animation to the sedate statements of official reports.
Colonel William Preston Johnston's life of his father, General A.S. Johnston, can be used in some respects as authority. He served first in the Army of Northern Virginia, and was, most of the war, on the staff of Jefferson Davis. He thus, after his father's death, became possessed of a valuable collection of authentic official papers. When he was preparing the biography, all papers of value in private hands in the South were open to his use.
Letters and memoranda preserved by Colonel Charles Whittlesey, and some of my own, have been of service.
I am under obligation to Colonel Scott for permission to freely read and copy, in his office, the reports compiled under his direction. To Ex-President Hayes for the loan of a set of the series of Military Reports, both National and Confederate, so far as printed, though not yet issued. To the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio for the unrestricted use of its library. To Colonel Charles Whittlesey of Cleveland, and Major E.C. Dawes, of Cincinnati, for the use of original manuscripts as well as printed reports.
CHAPTER I. PAGE
CHAPTER II. FORT HENRY, 24
CHAPTER III. FORT DONELSON, 33
CHAPTER IV. NEW MADRID AND ISLAND NUMBER TEN, 66
CHAPTER V. THE GATHERING OF THE FORCES, 91
CHAPTER VII. SHILOH—NIGHT, AND MONDAY, 160
CHAPTER VIII. CORINTH, 183
LIST OF MAPS.
WESTERN TENNESSEE, facing 1
FIELD OF OPERATIONS IN MISSOURI AND NORTHERN ARKANSAS, 3
THE LINE FROM COLUMBUS TO BOWLING GREEN, 25
FORT HENRY, 29
FORT DONELSON, 35
NEW MADRID AND ISLAND NUMBER TEN, 73
THE FIELD OF SHILOH, 125
THE APPROACH TO CORINTH, 185
FROM FORT HENRY TO CORINTH.
Missouri did not join the Southern States in their secession from the Union. A convention called to consider the question passed resolutions opposed to the movement. But the legislature convened by Governor Jackson gave him dictatorial power, authorized him especially to organize the military power of the State, and put into his hands three millions of dollars, diverted from the funds to which they had been appropriated, to complete the armament. The governor divided the State into nine military districts, appointed a brigadier-general to each, and appointed Sterling Price major-general.
The convention reassembled in July, 1861, and, by action subject to disapproval or affirmance of the popular vote, deposed the governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, and legislature, and appointed a new executive. This action was approved by a vote of the people. Jackson, assuming to be an ambulatory government as he chased about with forces alternately advancing and fleeing, undertook, by his separate act, to detach Missouri from the Union and annex it to the Confederacy.
This clash of action stimulated and intensified a real division of feeling, which existed in every county. A sputtering warfare broke out all over the State. Armed predatory parties, rebel and national, calling themselves squadrons, battalions, regiments, springing up as if from the ground, whirled into conflict and vanished. When a band of men without uniform, wearing their ordinary dress and carrying their own arms, dispersed over the country, the separate members could not be distinguished from other farmers or villagers; and a train, being merely a collection of country wagons, if scattered among the stables and barn-yards of the adjoining territory, wholly disappeared. But all through this eruptive discord flowed a continuous stream of more regular contests, which constitute the connected beginning of the military operations of the Mississippi Valley.
Under countenance of Governor Jackson's proclamation, General D.M. Frost organized a force and established Camp Jackson, near St. Louis, the site being now covered by a well-built portion of the city. Jackson had refused to call out troops in response to President Lincoln's requisition, but Frank P. Blair had promptly raised one regiment and stimulated the formation of four others in St. Louis. On May 10, 1861, Captain Nathaniel Lyon, of the regular army, who commanded at the arsenal at St. Louis, and had there a garrison of several hundred regulars, marched with Colonel Blair and the volunteers and a battery to Camp Jackson, surrounded it, and demanded a surrender. Resistance was useless. General Frost surrendered his men and stores, including twenty cannon. St. Louis, and with it Missouri, was thus preserved. Lyon was made brigadier-general of volunteers.
Jackson and Price left Jefferson City—Jackson stopping, on June 18th, at Booneville, one rendezvous for his forces, while Price continued up the river to Lexington, another rendezvous. General Lyon, leaving St. Louis on June 13th with an expeditionary force on boats, reached Booneville almost as soon as Jackson. The unorganized and partially armed gathering of several thousand men made an impotent attempt at resistance when Lyon landed, but was quickly routed. Jackson fled, with his mounted men and such of the infantry as he could hold together, to the southwest part of the State, gathering accretions of men as he marched. Lyon set out in pursuit, and Price, abandoning Lexington, hastened with the force assembled there to join Jackson. Colonel Franz Sigel had proceeded from St. Louis to Rolla by rail, and marched thence in pursuit of Jackson to strike him before he could be reinforced. Sigel, with 1,500 men, encountered Jackson with more than double that number, on July 5th, near Carthage, in Jasper County. Sigel's superiority in artillery gave him an advantage in a desultory combat of some hours. Jackson, greatly outnumbering him in cavalry, proceeded to envelop his rear, and Sigel was forced to withdraw. Sigel retreated in perfect order, and managed his artillery so well that the pursuing cavalry were kept at a distance, while he marched with his train through Carthage, and fifteen miles beyond, before halting. That night and next morning Jackson was heavily reinforced by Price, who brought from the south several thousand Arkansas and Texas troops, under General Ben. McCulloch and General Pearce. Sigel continued his retreat to Springfield, where he was joined by General Lyon on July 10th.
Price and McCulloch being continually reinforced, largely with cavalry, overran Southwestern Missouri. Lyon waited in vain for reinforcements, and, having but little cavalry, kept closely to the vicinity of Springfield. Learning that the enemy were marching upon him in two strong columns, one from the south and one from the west, he moved out from Springfield with all his force on August 1st, and early next morning encountered at Dug Springs a portion of the column advancing from the south under McCulloch. This detachment was shattered and dispersed, and McCulloch recoiled and moved to the west, to join Price commanding the other column. Price advanced slowly with the combined force and went into camp on Wilson Creek, ten miles south of Springfield, on August 7th.
Lyon's entire force was, upon the rolls, 5,868. This number included sick, wounded, and detached on special duty. General Price turned over his Missouri troops and relinquished command to McCulloch. According to Price's official report, his Missourians engaged in the battle of the 10th were 5,221. According to the official report of McCulloch, his entire effective force was 5,300 infantry, 15 pieces of artillery, 6,000 horsemen armed with flintlock muskets, rifles, and shotguns, and a number of unarmed horsemen.
General Lyon, not having sufficient force to retreat across the open country to supports, resolved to strike a sharp blow that would cripple his opponent, and thus secure an unmolested retreat. He marched out from Springfield at five o'clock P.M., on August 9th, leaving 250 men and one gun as a guard. Colonel Sigel, with 1,200 men and a battery of six pieces, moved to the left, to get into the rear of McCulloch's right flank; Lyon, with 3,700 men, including two batteries, Totten's with six guns, and Dubois with four, and also including two battalions of regular infantry, inclined to the right so as to come upon the centre of the enemy's front. The columns came in sight of McCulloch's camp-fires after midnight, and rested in place till day. At six o'clock on the morning of the 10th, attack was made almost simultaneously by the two columns at the points designated. Sigel advanced to the attack with great gallantry, but soon suffered a disastrous repulse; five of his six guns were taken and his command scattered.
McCulloch's entire force, with artillery increased by the five pieces taken from Sigel, turned upon Lyon's little command. Lyon's men were well posted and fought with extraordinary steadiness. Infantry and artillery face to face fired at each other, with occasional intermissions, nearly six hours. General Lyon, after being twice wounded, was killed. The opposing lines at times came almost in contact. Each side at times recoiled. When the conflict reached the hottest, and McCulloch pushed his men, about eleven o'clock, up almost to the muzzles of the national line, Captain Granger rushed to the rear, brought up the supports of Dubois' battery, eight companies in all, being portions of the First Kansas, First Missouri, and the First Iowa, fell suddenly upon McCulloch's right flank, and opened a fire that shot away a portion of McCulloch's line. This cross-fire cleared that portion of the field; McCulloch's whole line gave way and retired out of view. It was now for the first time safe for Major Sturgis, who had assumed command on the death of Lyon, to retreat. Sturgis withdrew in order and fell back to Springfield unmolested. The entire national loss, according to the official report, was 223 killed, 721 wounded, and 292 missing. The missing were nearly all from Sigel's column. Two regiments in General Lyon's column, the First Missouri and the First Kansas, lost together 153 killed and 395 wounded. General Price reported the loss of his Missouri troops, 156 killed, 517 wounded, and 30 missing. General McCulloch reported his entire loss as 265 killed, 800 wounded, and 30 missing. The death of General Lyon was a severe loss. He was zealous in the national cause and enterprising in maintaining it; he was ready to assume responsibility, and prompt in taking initiative; sagacious in comprehending his antagonist, quick in decision, fertile in resource, and was as cool as he was bold. On the night of the 10th, the army stores in Springfield were put into the wagons, and next morning the national force set out for Rolla, the end of the railroad, where it arrived in good order on the 15th. Meanwhile, Price and McCulloch, having some disagreement, withdrew to the Arkansas border.
General John C. Fremont was, July 9, 1861, assigned to the command of the Western District, comprising the States of Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas, and territories west, and arrived in St. Louis from the East on July 25th. Before arriving he appointed Brigadier-General John Pope to command the district of Northern Missouri, being that part of Missouri north of the Missouri River. Pope arrived at St. Charles, Mo., with three infantry regiments and part of one cavalry regiment of Illinois volunteers, on July 17th, and assumed command. On July 21st, General Pope published an order making all property within five miles of a railway responsible for malicious injury done to such railway. On July 31st he published another order, making the property of each county responsible for damage done by, and the cost of suppressing, predatory outbreaks in such county. For a month the effect of these orders was to allay disturbance in the district, and secure the administration of affairs by the ordinary machinery of civil government; but in about a month the orders were set aside, and in their place martial law was declared throughout the State.
General Fremont learned of the battle of Wilson Creek on August 13th, and resolved at once to fortify St. Louis as his permanent base, and also fortify and garrison Jefferson City, Rolla, Cape Girardeau, and Ironton. Price marched leisurely up through the western border of the State. Unorganized bands springing up in the country attacked Booneville and Lexington, but were easily repulsed by the little detachments guarding those places. Colonel Mulligan was sent to Lexington with additional troops, making the entire force there 2,800 men and eight field-pieces, and with orders to remain until relieved or reinforced.
On September 11th, Price arrived before Lexington. There is no authentic report of his strength; indeed, a large part of his following was an unorganized assemblage. He must have numbered 14,000 men at the beginning of the siege; and reinforcements daily arriving swelled the number to, at all events, more than 20,000. Colonel Mulligan took position on a rising ground close to the river, east of the city, forming a plateau with a surface of about fifteen acres, and fortified.
Judging by the despatches of General Fremont, he seems to have felt no apprehension as to the fate of Mulligan, and made no serious effort to relieve him. The force at Jefferson City remained there. The troops at St. Louis were not moved. General Pope, who, under orders from General Fremont, had advanced from Hannibal to St. Joseph along the line of the railroad, driving off depredators, repairing the road, and stationing permanent guards, heard on September 16th, at Palmyra on his return, something of the condition of affairs at Lexington. He had sent his troops then in the western part of the State toward the Missouri River in pursuit of a depredating body of the enemy. He immediately despatched an order to these troops to hasten to Lexington upon completing their present business. They were not able, however, to arrive in time.
Price, having organized his command into five divisions, each commanded by a general officer, did not push his siege vigorously till the 18th. On that day, a force proceeding through the city of Lexington and under cover of the river-bank, seized the ferry-boats, cut Mulligan off from his water-supply, and carried a mansion close to Mulligan's works and overlooking them. A sortie and a desperate struggle regained possession of the house. Another assault and another desperate struggle finally dispossessed the garrison of the house. Price closed in upon the beleaguered works and firing became continuous and uninterrupted. On the 20th, Price, having a footing on the plateau, carried up numbers of bales of hemp and used them as a movable entrenchment. By rolling these forward, he pushed his line close to Mulligan's works. The besieged were already suffering from want of water, and surrender could be no longer postponed.
Fremont, hearing of the surrender on September 22d, began to bestir himself to look after Price. He left St. Louis for Jefferson City on the 27th, and sent thither the regiments that had been kept at St. Louis. Price on the same day moved out of Lexington and marched deliberately to the southwest corner of the State. On September 24th, Fremont published an order constructing an army for the field of five divisions, entitled right wing, centre, left wing, advance, and reserve—under the command, respectively, of Generals Pope, McKinstry, Hunter, Sigel, and Ashboth; headquarters being respectively at Booneville, Syracuse, Versailles, Georgetown, and Tipton. The regiments and batteries assigned to the respective divisions were scattered all over the State, many of them without wagons, mules, overcoats, cartridge-boxes, or rations. Orders were issued to advance and concentrate at Springfield. Sigel arrived there on the evening of October 27th, and Ashboth on the 30th. Fremont was convinced that Price was on Wilson's Creek, ten or twelve miles from Springfield. Despatches were sent urging McKinstry, Hunter, and Pope to hasten. Pope, having marched seventy miles in two days, arrived on November 1st, and McKinstry arrived close behind him.
On November 2d an order came from Washington relieving Fremont from command of the department, and appointing Hunter to the command. Hunter having not yet come up, Fremont held a council of war, exhibited his plan of battle at Wilson Creek, and ordered advance and attack to be made next morning. General Hunter arrived in the night and assumed command. He sent a reconnoissance next day to Wilson Creek, and learned that no enemy was there or had been there. It was soon ascertained that Price was at Cassville, more than sixty miles off. The army being without rations and imperfectly supplied with transportation, General Hunter, acting upon his own judgment and also in accordance with the wish of President Lincoln expressed in a letter to him, refrained from any attempt to overtake Price, and withdrew his army back to the railroads.
On November 9th, General Halleck was appointed commander of the new Department of the Missouri, including that portion of Kentucky west of the Cumberland River. One-half of the force which Fremont had assembled at Springfield was stationed along the railway from Jefferson City to Sedalia, its western terminus, and General Pope was put in command of this force, as well as a district designated Central Missouri. General Price advanced into Missouri as far as Osceola, on the southern bank of the Osage River, from which point he sent parties in various directions, and where he received detachments of recruits. On December 15th, Pope moved out from Sedalia directly to the south, as if he were pushing for Warsaw, and at the same time sent a cavalry force to the southwest, to mask his movement from Price's command at and near Osceola. Next day a forced march took him west to a position south of Warrensburg, and between the two roads leading from Warrensburg to Osceola. The same night he captured the pickets, and thereby learned the precise locality of a body of 3,200 men, moving from Lexington south to join Price. A flying column under Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, sent out the same night, came upon the camp, drove out the command, kept up the pursuit all night, and all the next day and night, pushing the fugitives away from Price and utterly dispersing them over the country, and rejoined Pope on the 18th with 150 prisoners, and sixteen wagons loaded with supplies captured. At the same time Major Hubbard with his detachment pushed south to the lines of one of Price's divisions, encamped opposite Osceola, on the north shore of the Osage, and captured pickets and one entire company of cavalry, with its tents and wagons. On the 18th, Pope moved to the north, to intercept another body moving south to join Price, and which he learned from his scouts would camp that night at the mouth of Clear Creek, just beyond Warrensburg. His dispositions were so made and carried out that the entire body was surrounded and captured, comprising parts of two regiments of infantry and three companies of cavalry—numbering 1,300 officers and men, with complete train and full supplies. Pope's troops reoccupied their camps at Sedalia and Otterville just one week after they marched out of them. Price broke up his camp at Osceola in haste, and fell rapidly back to Springfield.
General Samuel R. Curtis arrived at Rolla on December 27th, to take command of a force concentrating there and called the Army of the Southwest. One division, under the command of Colonel Jefferson C. Davis, detached from General Pope's district, added to three other divisions commanded respectively by General Sigel, General Ashboth, and Colonel E.A. Carr, made together 12,095 men and fifty pieces of artillery, including four mountain howitzers. Marching out from Rolla on January 23, 1862, with three divisions, he halted a week at Lebanon, where he was joined by Colonel Davis, completing organization and preparation. After some skirmishing with Price's outposts, Curtis entered Springfield at daylight, February 15th, to find that Price had abandoned it in the night. Curtis followed with forced marches, his advance skirmishing every day with Price's rear-guard. In Arkansas, Price was joined by McCulloch and they retired to Boston Mountains. Curtis advanced as far as Fayetteville and then fell back to await attack on ground of his own choice.
The position selected was where the main road, running north from Fayetteville into Missouri, crosses Sugar Creek, and goes over a ridge or rough plateau called Pea Ridge, and was near the Missouri line. For easier subsistence the divisions were camped separately and some miles apart. Davis' division was at Sugar Creek, preparing the position for defence. Sigel, with his own and Ashboth's divisions, was at Cooper's farm, about fourteen miles west; and Carr's division, with which General Curtis had his headquarters, was twelve miles south on the main Fayetteville road, at a place called Cross Hollows. Strong detachments were sent in various directions, forty miles out, to gather in forage and subsistence. The strength of the command was somewhat diminished by the necessity of protecting the long line of communication with the base of supplies by patrols as well as stationary guards, and the aggregate present in Arkansas was 10,500 infantry and cavalry, and forty-nine pieces of artillery.
To settle the continued dissension between Price and McCulloch, General A.S. Johnston, the Confederate commander in the West, appointed General Earl Van Dorn to command west of the Mississippi. Van Dorn assumed command January 29, 1862, in northeastern Arkansas, and hastened on February 22d to join McCulloch at Fayetteville, to which place Price was then retreating before Curtis. Van Dorn says that he led 14,000 men into action. All other accounts put his force at from thirty to forty thousand. Perhaps he enumerated only the seasoned regiments, and took no account of unorganized bands, or of the several thousand Indians under Albert Pike.
At two o'clock P.M., March 5th, General Curtis received intelligence that Van Dorn had begun his march. Orders were immediately sent to the divisions and detachments to concentrate on Davis' division. Carr moved at 6 P.M., and arrived at 2 A.M. Sigel deferred moving till two o'clock A.M., and at Bentonville halted, himself with a regiment of infantry, the Twelfth Missouri, Elbert's light battery, and five companies of cavalry, till ten o'clock, two hours after the rear of his train had passed through the place. By this time Van Dorn's advance guard had arrived, and before Sigel could form had passed around to his front, at the same time enveloping his flanks. By the skilful disposition of his detachment, and the admirable conduct of the men, Sigel was able to resume and continue his march, an unbroken skirmish, rising at times into engagement, from half-past ten o'clock till half-past three, when he was joined by reinforcements which General Curtis had hurried back to him. The line was formed, facing to the south, on the crest of the bluffs overlooking the Valley of Sugar Creek, Sigel being on the right, next to him Ashboth, then Davis, and Carr being the left. The position was entrenched, and the approaches were obstructed by felled timber. One foraging party of 250 men and one gun did not return till after the battle, so that Curtis' force engaged was just 10,250 men and forty-eight guns.
Van Dorn did not assault that evening. By dawn next day it was ascertained that he had made a great detour by the west, and was coming up on the right and rear. Curtis faced his line to the rear and wheeled to the left, so that his new line faced nearly west; the original right flank, now the left, was scarcely moved, and Carr's division had become the right. Colonel Osterhaus, with three regiments of infantry and two batteries, was despatched from Sigel's division to aid a regiment of cavalry and a flying battery that had been quickly sent to retard the enemy's centre and give Carr's division time to deploy. Osterhaus met the cavalry returning, and threw his detachment against the advancing line. The picket posted at Elkhorn tavern, where Carr was to deploy, was attacked and driven back, and Carr's division had to go into line under fire. Osterhaus found himself opposed to the corps of McCulloch and McIntosh, and was about being overwhelmed when Davis' division moved to his support. Pea Ridge is in places covered with timber and brush, in places intersected by deep ravines, and a portion of it was a tangle of fallen timber, marking the path of a hurricane. Manoeuvring was not easy, and detours were required in reinforcing one part of the line from another. The contest on the field, where Davis and Osterhaus were opposed to McCulloch and McIntosh, was fierce and determined until McCulloch and McIntosh were killed. Their numerous, but partially disciplined followers lost heart and direction, and before the close of day gave way before the persistent and orderly attack, and finally broke and left the field.
Carr's division was opposed to Price's corps, and Van Dorn gave his personal attention to that part of the field. Gallantry and determination could not prevail against gallantry and determination backed by superior numbers. Bit by bit, first on one flank, then the other, he receded. Curtis sent his body-guard, then the camp-guard to reinforce him, and then a small reserve that had been guarding the road to the rear. Carr had sent word he could not hold out much longer. Curtis sent word to persevere, and went in person to the left, where Sigel with his two divisions had not yet been under fire, and hurried Ashboth over to Carr's relief. Carr had been gradually pushed back nearly a mile; Van Dorn had been concentrating upon him, resolved to crush him. Curtis, returning with Ashboth, met the Fourth Iowa marching to the rear, in good order. Colonel Dodge explained that ammunition was exhausted, and he was going for cartridges. "Then use your bayonets," was the reply, and the regiment faced again to the enemy and steadily advanced. It was about five o'clock P.M. when Ashboth reached Carr's line and immediately opened fire. The combat continued till dark set in.
As it was evident that Van Dorn was throwing his whole force upon the position held by Carr, General Curtis took advantage of the cessation during the night to re-form his line. Davis and Osterhaus were brought to join Carr's left, and Sigel was ordered to form on the left of Osterhaus. When the sun rose, Sigel was not yet in position, but Davis and Carr began attack without waiting. General Curtis, riding to the front of Carr's right, found in advance a rising ground which gave a commanding position for a battery, posted the Dubuque battery there, and moved forward the right to its support. Sigel, coming up with the divisions of Osterhaus and Ashboth on Davis' left, first sent a battery forward, which by its rapid fire repelled the enemy in its front, and then with its deployed supports wheeled half to the right. Another battery pushed forward repeated the manoeuvre with its supporting infantry. The column thus deployed on the right into line, bending back the enemy's right wing in the execution of the movement—each step in the deployment gaining space for the next succeeding step. The line as now formed, from the Dubuque battery on the right to Sigel's left, formed a curve enclosing Van Dorn's army. Under this concentric fire Van Dorn's entire force before noon was swept from the field to find refuge in the deep and tortuous ravines in his rear. Pursuit was fruitless. McCulloch's command, scattering in all directions, was irretrievably dispersed. Van Dorn, with Price's corps and other troops, found outlet by a ravine leading to the south, unobserved by the national troops, went into camp ten miles off on the prairie, and sent in a flag of truce to bury his dead. The national loss was 203 killed, 972 wounded, and 176 missing. Van Dorn reported his loss as 600 killed and wounded and 200 prisoners, but the dispersion of a large portion of his command prevented full reports.
Van Dorn was now ordered to report at Corinth, where A.S. Johnston was assembling his army. Most of the national forces remaining in Missouri were sent to General Grant, to aid in his expeditions against Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. General Curtis made a promenade across Arkansas, halting at times, and came out on the Mississippi in July, 1862.
While Price kept Southwest Missouri in a state of alarm, Jefferson Thompson, appointed by Governor Jackson brigadier-general and commander of district, marauded over Southeastern Missouri, sometimes raiding far enough to the north to strike and damage railways. On October 14, 1861, by a rapid march he passed by Pilot Knob, which Colonel Carlin held with 1,500 men, struck the Iron Mountain Railroad at its crossing of Big River, destroyed the bridge—the largest bridge on the road—and immediately fell back to Fredericktown. The news reaching St. Louis on the 15th, the Eighth Wisconsin infantry and Schofield's battery were despatched thence to reinforce Colonel Carlin; and General Grant, commanding at Cape Girardeau, sent Colonel Plummer, of the Eleventh Missouri, with his own regiment, the Seventeenth and Twentieth Illinois, a section of artillery and two companies of cavalry, in all 1,500 men, to join in an attack upon Thompson. Meanwhile a party of cavalry was sent out from Pilot Knob to Fredericktown, to occupy Thompson by demonstrations and hold him there.
Colonel Plummer marched out from Cape Girardeau on the morning of the 18th, and sent a messenger to Colonel Carlin advising him of his movement; the messenger fell into Thompson's hands. Thompson sent his train to the south, and, moving a few miles below Fredericktown with his force numbering 4,000 men, took a strong position and awaited attack. Carlin with 3,000 men effected a junction with Plummer and his 1,500, the combined force being under command of Colonel Plummer. Thompson was attacked as soon as discovered. After a sharp fight of two hours Thompson gave way, was driven from his position, retreated, and fell into rout. He was pursued several miles that day, and the pursuing force returned to Fredericktown for the night. Next day Colonel Plummer followed in pursuit twenty-two miles without further result, returned to Fredericktown the 23d, and on the 24th began his march back to Cape Girardeau.
Colonel Plummer's loss was 6 killed and 60 wounded. He took 80 prisoners, 38 of them wounded; captured one iron twelve-pounder gun, a number of small arms and horses, and buried 158 of Thompson's dead before leaving Fredericktown. Thompson's following was demoralized by this defeat, and Southeast Missouri after it enjoyed comparative quiet.
The State of Kentucky at first undertook to hold the position of armed neutrality in the civil war. On September 4, 1861, Gen. Leonidas Polk, moving up from Tennessee with a considerable force into Western Kentucky, seized Hickman and Columbus on the Mississippi, and threatened Paducah on the Ohio. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, appointed brigadier-general of volunteers on August 7, 1861, to date from May 17th, assumed command on September 1st, by order of General Fremont, of the District of Southeast Missouri. This district included not only the southeastern part of Missouri, but also Southern Illinois, and so much of Western Kentucky and Tennessee as might fall into possession of the national forces. General Grant arrived at Cairo on September 2d, established his headquarters there on the 4th, and next day heard of the action of General Polk. He immediately notified General Fremont, and also the Legislature of Kentucky, then in session at Frankfort, of the fact. Getting further information in the day, he telegraphed to General Fremont he would go to Paducah unless orders to the contrary should be received. He started in the night with two regiments and a battery, and arrived at Paducah at half-past six next morning. General L. Tilghman being in the city with his staff and a single company of recruits, hurried away by rail, and Grant occupied the city without opposition. The Legislature passed a resolution "that Kentucky expects the Confederate or Tennessee troops to be withdrawn from her soil unconditionally." Polk remained, and Kentucky as a State was ranged in support of the government.
General Grant, leaving a sufficient garrison, returned at noon to Cairo to find there permission from Fremont to take Paducah if he felt strong enough, and also a reprimand for communicating directly with a legislature. General C.F. Smith was put in command of Paducah next day by Fremont, with orders to report directly to Fremont. A few weeks later, Smith occupied and garrisoned Smithland at the mouth of the Cumberland. Grant suggested the feasibility of capturing Columbus, and on September 10th asked permission to make the attempt. No notice was taken of the request. His command was, however, continually reinforced by new regiments, and he found occupation in organizing and disciplining them. General Polk meanwhile was busy fortifying Columbus, where the river-bank rises to a high bluff, until the bluff was faced and crowned with massive earthworks, armed with one hundred and forty-two pieces of artillery, mostly thirty-two and sixty-four pounders. At the same time heavy defensive works commanding the river were erected below at Island No. Ten and New Madrid, and still farther below, but above Memphis, at Fort Pillow.
On November 1st, General Fremont being on his expedition to Springfield, his adjutant in charge of headquarters at St. Louis directed General Grant to make demonstrations on both sides of the Mississippi at Norfolk, Charleston, and Blandville, points a few miles north of Columbus and Belmont. Next day he advised Grant that Jeff. Thompson was at Indian Ford of the St. Francois River, twenty-five miles below Greenville, with about three thousand men, and that Colonel Carlin had started from Pilot Knob in pursuit, and directing Grant to send a force to assist Carlin in driving Thompson into Arkansas. On the night of the 3d, Grant despatched Colonel Oglesby with 3,000 men from Commerce to carry out this order. On the 5th, Grant was further advised by telegraph that General Polk, who commanded at Columbus, was sending reinforcements to Price, and that it was of vital importance that this movement should be arrested. General Grant at once sent an additional regiment to Oglesby, with directions to him to turn his course to the river in the direction of New Madrid; requested General C. F. Smith to make a demonstration from Paducah toward Columbus; and also sent parties from Bird's Point and Fort Holt to move down both sides of the river, so as to attract attention from Columbus.
On the evening of the 6th, General Grant started down the river on transports with five regiments of infantry, the Twenty-second, Twenty-seventh, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Illinois, and the Seventh Iowa, Taylor's Chicago battery, and two companies of cavalry. The Twenty-seventh, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Illinois were made into a brigade commanded by General John A. McClernand; the Twenty-second Illinois and the Seventh Iowa into a brigade under Colonel H. Dougherty, of the Twenty-second Illinois. The entire force numbered 3,114 men. General Grant, in his report, states the number at 2,850. As five companies were kept at the landing when the force disembarked, the number given by General Grant represents the number taken into action. Two gunboats, under the command of Captain Walke of the navy, convoyed the expedition. A feint was made of landing nine miles below Cairo, on the Kentucky side, and the expedition lay there till daybreak. Badeau says that General Grant received intelligence, at two o'clock in the morning of the 7th, that General Polk was crossing troops from Columbus to Belmont, with a view of cutting off Oglesby, and that he thereupon determined to convert what had been intended as a mere demonstration against Belmont into a real attack.
Belmont was the lofty name of a settlement of three houses squatted upon the low river-flat opposite Columbus, and under easy range of its guns. A regiment and a battery were encamped in a cleared field of seven hundred acres on the river-bank, and the camp was surrounded on its landward side by an abattis of felled timber. At six o'clock in the morning the fleet moved down, and the troops debarked at half-past eight on the Missouri shore, three miles above Columbus, and protected from view by an intervening wooded point. About the same time General Polk sent General Pillow across the river to Belmont with four regiments, making the force there five regiments and a battery. Pillow estimated the number of men at about twenty-five hundred.
General Grant marched his command through the timber and some cleared fields, and formed in two lines facing the river—McClernand in front, Dougherty in rear. A depression parallel to the river, making a connected series of ponds or sloughs, had to be crossed in the advance in line. These depressions were for the most part dry, but the Twenty-seventh Illinois, the right of the front line, in passing around a portion that was yet filled with water, made such distance to the right that Colonel Dougherty's brigade moved forward, filled the interval, and the attack was made in a single line.
The opposing skirmishers encountered in the timber. Pillow's line of battle was in the open, facing the timber. The engagement was in the simplest form: two forces equal in number encountered in parallel lines. Most of the men on both sides were for the first time under fire, and had yet had but scanty opportunity to become inured to or acquainted with military discipline. The engagement was hotly contested—the opposing lines, while for some time alternately advancing and receding, were steady and unbroken. At length Pillow gave way. When his line was once really broken it could not rally in the face of pursuit. The national line pressing on, pushed Pillow back through the camp and over the upper or secondary bank to the first or lower bottom in disorder. The Second Tennessee, just arrived across the river, took position under the secondary bank, for a while checked the pursuit, giving time for the routed troops to make their way through the timber up the river, and finally followed them in a more orderly retreat.
The national troops, having now undisturbed possession of the captured camp, gave way to their exultation. General McClernand called for three cheers, that were given with a will. The regiments broke ranks, and the battery fired upon the massive works and heavy siege-guns crowning the heights across the river. A plunging fire of great shells from the fortifications, and the sight of boats loaded with troops leaving the opposite shore, were impressive warnings that the invaders could not safely tarry. General Grant directed the camp to be set on fire, and the command to be assembled and to return. General Polk became convinced that Columbus was not in danger of present attack, and determined to reinforce Pillow promptly and effectively. The Eleventh Louisiana and Fifteenth Tennessee arrived first, and attack was made upon both flanks of the hastily formed retreating column, encumbered as it was with spoils. The Seventh Iowa and Twenty-second Illinois, the regiments mainly attacked, replied with vigor, though thrown into some confusion. Pillow halted his men to re-form, and drew them off to await the arrival of reinforcements on the way, under General Polk in person.
The command embarked. The battery took on board two guns and a wagon captured and brought off in place of two caissons and a wagon left behind, and also brought off twenty horses and one mule captured. When all who were in sight were on board, General Grant, supposing the five companies who had been left to guard the landing were still on post, rode out to look for one of the parties that had been sent to bring in the wounded, and which had not returned. Instead of the guard, which had gone on board without orders, supposing its duty was done, he saw approaching a hostile line of battle. He rode back, his horse slid down the river-bank on its haunches, and trotted on board a transport over a plank thrust out for him. General Polk had come over with General Cheatham, bringing two more regiments and a battalion. The entire force formed in line, approached the river-bank, and opened fire. The gunboats, as well as the infantry on the transports, returned the fire. Each side was confident that its fire caused great slaughter; but, in fact, little damage was done. The fleet, some distance up-stream, overtook and received on board the Twenty-seventh Illinois, which had become separated from the column, and, instead of returning with it, returned by the road over which the advance was made. The national loss was: in McClernand's brigade, 30 killed, 130 wounded, and 54 missing; in Dougherty's brigade, 49 killed, 154 wounded, and 63 missing; in Taylor's battery, 5 wounded. There were no casualties in the cavalry. The aggregate loss was 79 killed, 289 wounded, and 117 missing; making, in all, 485. Most of the wounded were left behind and taken prisoners. A number of the missing made their way to Cairo. The Seventh Iowa suffered most severely. Among the 26 killed and 80 wounded were the lieutenant-colonel killed, and the colonel and major wounded. Colonel Dougherty, of the Twenty-second Illinois, commanding the second brigade, was wounded and taken prisoner. The Confederate loss was 105 killed, 419 wounded, and 117 missing; in all, 641. Of this aggregate, 562 were from the five regiments originally engaged. Besides the loss in men and the destruction of the camp, forty-five horses were killed.
General A.S. Johnston, on September 17, 1861, sent General S.B. Buckner, who had left Kentucky and entered the Confederate service, to seize and occupy Bowling Green, in Kentucky, with a force of 4,000 men. Bowling Green is at the crossing of the Big Barren River by the Louisville and Nashville road. A little to the south the Memphis and Ohio branches off from the Louisville and Nashville. Bowling Green was therefore a gateway through which all approach to the south from Louisville by rail must pass. There was no access by rail from the Ohio River to the south, east of Bowling Green. The road from Paducah led nowhere. The railroads to the north from Mississippi ended, not on the Ohio, but at Columbus, on the Mississippi. Defensive earthworks had already been begun at Fort Donelson, on the left Bank of the Cumberland, Fort Henry, on the right bank of the Tennessee, twelve miles west of Fort Donelson, and at Columbus, on the Mississippi. General Johnston, with the aid of his engineers, Lieutenant Dixon and Major J.F. Gilmer, afterward General and Chief Engineer of the Confederate army, adopted these sites as places to be strongly fortified. The line from Columbus to Bowling Green became the line chosen to bar access from the North to the South, and to serve as a base for invasion of the North.
The idea of breaking this line by an expedition up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers seems to have presented itself to many. Colonel Charles Whittlesy, of the Twentieth Ohio, a graduate of West Point and formerly in the army, while acting as Chief Engineer on the staff of General O.M. Mitchell in Cincinnati, wrote to General Halleck, November 20, 1861, suggesting a great movement by land and water up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, on the ground that this was the most feasible route into Tennessee, and would necessitate the evacuation of Columbus and the retreat of Buckner from Bowling Green. In December, 1861, General Sherman, conversing with General Halleck, in St. Louis, suggested that the proper place to break the line was the centre, to which Halleck assented, pointing on the map to the Tennessee River, and saying that is the true line of operations. On January 3, 1862, General D.C. Buell, in a letter to General Halleck, proposed a combined attack on the centre and flanks of General Johnston's line, and added: "The attack on the centre should be made by two gunboat expeditions, with, I should say, 20,000 men on the two rivers." General Halleck, writing to General McClellan, January 20, 1862, said a movement down the Mississippi was premature; that a more feasible plan was to move up the Cumberland and Tennessee, making Nashville the objective point, which movement would threaten Columbus and force the abandonment of Bowling Green, adding "but the plan should not be attempted without a large force—not less than 60,000 men." General McClellan, however, thought such a movement should be postponed for the present. He wrote on January 6th, to General Buell, Commander of the Department of the Ohio, which department included all of Kentucky east of the Cumberland River: "My own general plans for the prosecution of the war make the speedy occupation of East Tennessee and its lines of railway matters of absolute necessity. Bowling Green and Nashville are in that connection of very secondary importance at the present moment." General Grant wrote no reasoned speculations about it, but throughout January pressed Halleck for permission to make the attempt.
On January 6, 1862, Grant wrote to General Halleck for permission to visit St. Louis. On the same day General Halleck, in pursuance of orders received from General McClellan, who was then in Washington in supreme command of the United States forces, directed General Grant to make a demonstration on Mayfield, in the direction of Murray. He was directed to "make a great fuss about moving all your force toward Nashville," and let it be understood that twenty or thirty thousand men are expected from Missouri. He was further directed to give this out to the newspapers, and not let his own men or even his staff know the contrary. At the same time he was advised that the real object was to prevent reinforcements being sent to Buckner, and charged not to advance far enough to expose his flank or rear to an attack from Columbus, and by all means to avoid a serious engagement. On the 10th, Halleck telegraphed to delay; but Grant was already gone, with McClernand and 6,000 men from Cairo and Bird's Point, and had sent General C.F. Smith from Paducah with two brigades. The troops were out more than a week. The weather was cold, with rain and snow. The excursion was good practice in campaigning for the new volunteers, and detained reinforcements at Columbus while General George H. Thomas fought and won the battle of Mill Springs, in Kentucky.
General Grant, on his return to Cairo, wrote again on January 20th for permission to visit St. Louis. Receiving General Smith's report on the 22d, in which Smith said that the capture of Fort Henry was feasible—that two guns would make short work of it, he at once forwarded the report to St. Louis, and on the same day obtained the permission sought. When he began to unfold the object of his visit, to obtain permission to capture Henry and Donelson, Halleck silenced him so quickly and sharply that he said no more, and returned to Cairo believing his commander thought him guilty of proposing a military blunder. But, persisting still, he telegraphed on the 28th that, if permitted, he would take Fort Henry and establish and hold a camp there. Next day he wrote to the same effect in detail. On the 28th, Commodore A.H. Foote, flag-officer of the gunboat fleet, wrote to General Halleck that he concurred with General Grant, and asking if they had Halleck's authority to move when ready. On January 30th, General Halleck telegraphed to Grant to get ready, and made an order directing him to proceed. The order was received on February 1st, and next day General Grant started up the Tennessee with 17,000 men on transports, convoyed by Commodore Foote with seven gunboats.
The sites of Forts Henry and Donelson were chosen, and the work of fortifying them begun, by the State of Tennessee, when Kentucky was still holding itself neutral. Fort Donelson, immediately below the town of Dover, was a good position, and was near the Kentucky line. The site chosen for Fort Henry commanded a straight stretch of the river for some miles, and was near the State line and near Donelson. But it was low ground, commanded by higher ground on both sides of the river, and was washed by high water. Under the supervision of General A.S. Johnston's engineers, the work had become a well-traced, solidly constructed fortification of earth, with five bastions mounting twelve guns, facing the river, and five guns bearing upon the land. Infantry intrenchments were thrown up on the nearest high land, extending to the river both above and below the main work, and commanding the road to Fort Donelson. A work named Fort Heiman was begun on the bluff on the opposite side of the river, but was incomplete.
General McClernand, commanding the advance, landed eight miles below the fort. General Grant made a reconnoissance in one of the gunboats to draw the fire of the fort and ascertain the range of its guns. Having accomplished this, he re-embarked the landed troops, and debarked on February 4th, at Bailey's Ferry, three miles below the fort and just out of range of its fire. The river overflowed its banks, much of the country was under water; a heavy rain fell. The entire command did not get ashore till in the night of the 5th. In the night, General C.F. Smith was sent across the river to take Fort Heiman, but it was evacuated while Grant was landing his force at Bailey's Ferry. McClernand was ordered to move out at eleven o'clock in the morning of the 6th, and take position on the roads to Fort Donelson and Dover.
General Tilghman had telegraphed for reinforcements, and had about thirty-four hundred men with him, but only one company of artillerists. At midnight of the 5th he telegraphed to General A.S. Johnston that Grant was intrenching at Bailey's Ferry. But, on the morning of the 6th, Tilghman gave up the idea of using his infantry in the defence, ordered Colonel Heiman to move the command to Fort Donelson, while he remained with the company of artillerists to engage the fleet and the land force, if it should appear, with the heavy armament of the fort, and thus retard pursuit.
At eleven o'clock in the morning of the 6th, General Grant moved with his command, and at the same time Commodore Foote steamed up the river with his fleet in two divisions. The first was of ironclads, the Cincinnati, flag-ship, the Carondelet, and the St. Louis, each carrying thirteen guns, and the Essex, carrying nine guns. The second division of three wooden boats, under command of Lieutenant Phelps, followed half a mile astern. At a quarter before twelve o'clock the first division opened fire with their bow-guns at a distance of seventeen hundred yards, and continued firing while slowly advancing to a distance of six hundred yards from the fort. Here the four boats took position abreast, and fired with rapidity. Lieutenant Phelps' division sent shells falling within the work. The little garrison replied with spirit. Fifty-nine shots from their guns struck the fleet, but most of them rebounded without doing harm. One shot exploded the boiler of the Essex, scalding twenty-eight officers and seamen, including Commander Porter. One seaman was killed and nine wounded on the flag-ship, and one was killed by a ball on the Essex. In the fort, the twenty-four pound rifled gun exploded, disabling every man at the piece; a shell from the fleet, exploding at the mouth of one of the thirty-two pounders, ruined the gun, and killed or wounded all the men serving it. A premature explosion at a forty-two pounder killed three men and wounded others. A priming-wire accidentally spiked the ten-inch columbiad. Five men were killed, eleven wounded, and five missing. Four guns were disabled. The men were discouraged. General Tilghman took personal charge of one of the guns and worked it, but he could no longer inspirit his men. Colonel Gilmer, Chief Engineer of the Department, and a few others, not willing to be included in the surrender, left the fort and proceeded to Fort Donelson on foot. At five minutes before two o'clock General Tilghman lowered his flag, and sent his adjutant by boat to report to the flag-officer of the fleet. Twelve officers and sixty-six men in the fort, and sixteen men in the hospital-boat, surrendered. Flag-officer Foote, in his report, says the hospital-boat contained sixty invalids. All the camp-equipage and stores of the force that retreated to Fort Donelson were included in the surrender; the troops, having no wagons, had left everything behind.
At eleven o'clock, General McClernand moved out with his division, followed by the third brigade of General C.F. Smith's division. McClernand had two brigades, the first commanded by Colonel R.J. Oglesby, the second by Colonel W.H.L. Wallace. With each brigade were two batteries—Schwartz and Dresser with the first brigade, Taylor and McAlister with the second. The order to McClernand was to take position on the road from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson and Dover, prevent all reinforcements to Fort Henry or escape from it, and be in readiness to charge and take Fort Henry by storm promptly on the receipt of orders. The road was everywhere miry, owing to the wet season, and crossed ridges and wet hollows. McClernand reports that the distance by road, from the camp to the fort, was eight miles. The troops, pulling through the mud, cheered the bombardment by the fleet when it opened. At three o'clock McClernand learned that the enemy were evacuating the fort, and ordered his cavalry to advance if the report was found to be true. Captain Stewart, of McClernand's staff, came upon the rear of the retiring force just as they were leaving the outer line of the earthworks. Colonel Dickey, of the Fourth Illinois cavalry, coming up, pursued the retreating column three miles, capturing 38 prisoners, six pieces of artillery, and a caisson. The head of the infantry column entered the fort at half-past three o'clock.
Commodore Foote turned over the prisoners and captured property to General Grant, sent Lieutenant Phelps with the wooden gunboats on an expedition up the Tennessee, and returned the same evening to Cairo with two gunboats. Lieutenant-Commander Phelps proceeded up the river to Florence, at the foot of the Muscle Shoals, in the State of Alabama. An account of this expedition and its brilliant success belongs to the naval history of the war.
The capture of Fort Henry was important, but it would be of restricted use unless Fort Donelson should also be taken. At this point the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers are only twelve miles apart. The little town of Dover stood upon a bluff on the left bank of the Cumberland. Immediately above it, two small brooks empty into the river, making a valley or bottom overflowed by every high water. Immediately below the town is Indian Creek. One branch of it, rising close by the head of the upper one of the two brooks, flowing outwardly from the river toward the west, then bending to the north and northeast, makes almost the circuit of the town, about half a mile from it, before emptying into the creek. Several small brooks, flowing from the north into Indian Creek, make deep ravines, which leave a series of ridges, very irregular in outline, but generally parallel to the river. About half a mile below the mouth of Indian Creek, Hickman Creek, flowing eastwardly, empties into the river at right angles with it. Small branches running into Hickman Creek almost interlock with those emptying into Indian Creek, whereby the series of ridges parallel to the river are made to extend continuously from the valley of one creek to the valley of the other.
Fort Donelson, a bastioned earthwork, was erected on the river-bluff, between the two creeks, its elevation being one hundred feet above the water. A bend in the river gives the fort command over it as far as its armament could carry. On the slope of the ridge facing down stream, two water-batteries were excavated. The lower battery and larger one, was so excavated as to leave traverses between the guns. A ten-inch columbiad and nine thirty-two pound guns constituted the armament of the lower battery; a rifled piece, carrying a conical ball of one hundred and twenty-eight pounds, with two thirty-two pound carronades, the armament of the upper. These water-batteries were, according to Colonel J.D. Webster, General Grant's chief of staff, thirty feet above the water-level at the time of the attack. Colonel Gilmer, the engineer who constructed them, reported them as being fifty feet above the water-level; but it does not appear at what stage of the water. As the narrow channel of the river allowed an attacking party to present only a narrow front, the batteries required but little horizontal range for their guns, and the embrasures were accordingly made quite narrow. Eight additional guns were in the fort.
Colonel Gilmer, going from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson, immediately began the tracing and construction of works for infantry defence. The river protected the east face of the position, and the valley of Hickman Creek, filled with back-water from the river, sufficiently guarded the north. The line traced was two miles and a half long, following the recessions and salients. The right of the line, occupying a ridge extending from creek to creek, was nearly parallel with the river, and distant from it fourteen hundred yards in an air-line. It was somewhat convex, projecting to the front about its centre, at the point where Porter's battery was afterward posted. The left, facing to the south and southwest, beginning just above Dover, on the point of a ridge extending nearly to the river between the two small brooks, continued out from the river along this ridge to its western extremity, and thence across the valley of the small curved stream described as encircling Dover and emptying into Indian Creek, to a V-shaped eminence in the fork between this small stream and Indian Creek. This salient termination was on the continuation of the line of the right or the west face of the infantry works. This point was assigned to Maney's battery and Heiman's brigade. The line of infantry defence was what came to be called, during the war, rifle-pit—a trench with the earth thrown up on the outer side. Batteries were constructed at nine points in the line, and armed with the guns of eight field batteries.
The valley of Indian Creek made a break in the line; there was an interval at the creek between the portion occupied by Heiman's line and the work on the opposite slope, afterward the extreme left of General Buckner's command. The entire line on both faces, except the portion crossing the small valley or ravine to Heiman's left, followed the face of ridges from fifty to eighty feet high, faced by valleys or ravines filled with forest and underbrush. The trees were cut about breast-high, and the tops bent over outward, forming a rude abattis extremely difficult to pass through. The back-water filling the valley of Hickman Creek was an advantage to the defenders of Donelson, in so far as it served as a protection to one face of the position, and diminished the distance to be guarded and fortified. It was quite as great an advantage to the besiegers as it was to the besieged. They were by it relieved from a longer, being an exterior, line. Their transports and supplies could be landed and hauled out in security. Moreover, the back-water extending up Indian Creek also, within the defensive lines, cut the position in two, and made communication between the two parts inconvenient.
Immediately upon the capture of Fort Henry, work was begun on this line of infantry defence. The garrison, increased by the force from Fort Henry, numbered about six thousand effective men, under the command of Brigadier-General Bushrod R. Johnson. General Pillow, ordered by General A.S. Johnston, arrived on February 9th from Clarksville with 2,000 men. He was immediately followed by General Clarke, who had been stationed at Hopkinsville with 2,000 more; and Generals Floyd and Buckner, who were at Russellville with 8,000 more, followed. General Johnston began to set them all in motion by telegram from Bowling Green, before he received news of the surrender of Fort Henry. General Floyd was so averse to going to Donelson that he continued to remonstrate. General Buckner, whose division had arrived, proposed on the night of the 11th to take it back to General Floyd, his commanding officer at Clarksville; but Pillow, who was senior to Buckner, ordered him to remain, and repaired himself to Clarksville. Under the combined influence of Pillow's persuasion and General Johnston's orders, Floyd finally made up his mind to go, and arrived at Donelson with the last of his command in the night of the 12th. Meanwhile, Major-General Polk had sent 1,860 men from Columbus. On the night of February 12th, Donelson was defended by about 20,000 men. The heavy guns in the water batteries were manned mostly by details from light batteries and artillery drilled a short time before the national force appeared, by two artillery officers, under the supervision of Colonel Milton A. Haynes, Chief of the Tennessee Corps of Artillery.
General Grant, in reporting to General Halleck, on February 6th, the surrender of Fort Henry, added: "I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th, and return to Fort Henry." It was soon clear that he could not haul wagons over the road, and he proposed to go without wagons and double-team his artillery. The water continued rising. For two miles inland from Fort Henry the road was for the greater part under water. On the 8th he telegraphed: "I contemplated taking Fort Donelson to-day with infantry and cavalry alone, but all my troops may be kept busily engaged in saving what we now have from the rapidly rising water." The cavalry, however, fording the overflow, went to the front of Donelson on the 7th, skirmished with the pickets, and felt the outposts.
General Halleck went earnestly to work gathering and forwarding troops and supplies. Seasoned troops from Missouri, and regiments from the depots in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio—so freshly formed that they had hardly changed their civil garb for soldier's uniform before they were hurried to the front to take their first military lessons in the school of bivouac and battle—were alike gathered up. General Halleck telegraphed Grant to use every effort to transform Fort Henry into a work strong on its landward side, and by all means to destroy the railroad bridge across the Cumberland at Clarksville, above Fort Donelson. Grant was urging Commodore Foote to send boats up the Cumberland to co-operate in an attack on Donelson.
On February 11th, Foote sailed from Cairo with his fleet. On the same day Grant sent six regiments, which had arrived at Fort Henry on transports, down the river on the boats from which they had not landed, to follow the fleet up the Cumberland. He also on the same day moved the greater part of his force out several miles from Fort Henry on to solid ground. On the morning of the 12th, leaving General L. Wallace and 2,500 men at Fort Henry, he moved by two roads, diverging at Fort Henry, but coming together again at Dover, with 15,000 men and eight field batteries. The force was organized in two divisions; the first commanded by General McClernand, the second by General C.F. Smith. McClernand had three brigades. The first, commanded by Colonel R.J. Oglesby, comprised the Eighth, Eighteenth, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Illinois, the batteries of Schwartz and Dresser, and four companies of cavalry. The second, commanded by Colonel W.H.L. Wallace, consisted of the Eleventh, Twentieth, Forty-fifth, and Forty-eighth Illinois, Colonel Dickey's Fourth Illinois Cavalry, and Taylor's and McAllister's batteries. The third, commanded by Colonel W.R. Morrison, comprised the Seventeenth and Forty-ninth Illinois. Smith's first brigade, commanded by Colonel John McArthur, was composed of the Ninth, Twelfth, and Forty-first Illinois. The second brigade was left at Fort Henry. The third, Colonel John Cook, contained the Fifty-second Indiana, Seventh and Fiftieth Illinois, Thirteenth Missouri, and Twelfth Iowa; and the fourth, Colonel John G. Lauman, contained the Twenty-fifth and Fifty-sixth Indiana, and the Second, Seventh, and Fourteenth Iowa. Major Cavender's battalion of Missouri artillery was attached to the division. Some of Major Cavender's guns were twenty-pounders. Three pieces in McAllister's battery were twenty-four pound howitzers.
McClernand's division, preceded by the Fourth Illinois cavalry, marched in advance on both roads. No opposition was encountered before reaching the pickets in front of Donelson. The advance came in sight of the fort about noon. McArthur's brigade, forming the rear of the column, halted about three miles from the fort at 6 P.M., and moved into position at half-past ten. It was observed by Colonel W.H. L. Wallace, whose brigade was at the head of the column on the telegraph or direct road between Forts Henry and Donelson, that the enemy's camps were on the other side of the creek, which, on examination, was found to be impassable. He moved up the creek and joined Colonel Oglesby, whose brigade was the advance on the Ridge road, in a wooded hollow, screened from view from the works by an intervening ridge.
The moment that deployment was begun, Oglesby's brigade, which was the farther to the right, was briskly attacked by cavalry, who, after a sharp skirmish, retired. McClernand's division was assigned to the right, C.F. Smith's to the left. The day was spent feeling through the thick woods and along deep ravines, and high, narrow winding ridges. At times a distant glimpse was caught, through some opening, of the gleam of tents crowning a height; at times, a regiment tearing its way through blinding undergrowth was startled and cut by the sudden discharge from a battery almost overhead, which it had come upon unawares. The advancing skirmish-line was in constant desultory conflict with the posted picket-line. Batteries, occasionally, where an opening through the timber permitted, took a temporary position and engaged the hostile batteries. The afternoon passed in thus developing the fire of the line of works, feeling towards a position and acquiring an idea of the formation of the ground. Smith's division, by night, was in line in front of Buckner, and McClernand's right had crossed Indian Creek and reached the Wynn's Creek road. The column had marched without transportation. The men had nothing but what they carried in knapsack and haversack. Shelter-tents had not yet come into use. The danger of drawing the enemy's fire prevented the lighting of camp-fires. The army bivouacked in line of battle. The besieged resumed at night their task, which had been interrupted by the afternoon skirmishing, of completing and strengthening their works.
Next morning, Thursday the 13th, arrived, and the fleet had not come. Fifteen thousand men, without supplies, confronted 20,000 well intrenched. A party was sent to destroy the railroad bridge over the Tennessee, above Fort Henry, the trestle approach to which had been partly destroyed by Lieutenant-Commander Phelps, to prevent effectually reinforcements reaching Donelson from Columbus. Order was sent to General Lewis Wallace, who had been left with a brigade in command at Fort Henry, to join the besieging force. The two divisions on the ground prosecuted the work of feeling for position and probing the enemy. Colonel Lauman's brigade, of C.F. Smith's division, bivouacked the night of the 12th, about a mile from the intrenchments. On the 13th he moved over the intervening ridges till he came in view of the portion of the works held by Colonel Hanson, constituting the right of General Buckner's line. A deep hollow filled with timber filled the space between Lauman and the works before him. On the farther slope, crowned by the works, the slashed timber made an extensive abattis. Colonel Veatch, with the Twenty-fifth Indiana, advanced across the ravine or hollow, and forced his way partly up the slope. He remained with his command two hours exposed to a fire to which, from their position, they could make no effectual reply, and were recalled. The Seventh and Fourteenth Iowa moved up to the left of the position reached by Colonel Veatch, and a detachment of sharpshooters was posted so as to reach with their fire the men in the trenches and divert their fire. At night Lauman withdrew his command to the place of the previous night's bivouac. Colonel Cook's brigade advanced, the morning of the 13th, on the right of Lauman's. The left of his line came also in front of Hanson's works. The valley was here filled with such an "immensity of abattis" that he did not feel justified in ordering an attempt to cross it, but kept up through the day a desultory fire of skirmishers and sharpshooters over it. The demonstration made by Lauman and Cook appeared so threatening that General Buckner sent the Eighteenth Tennessee to reinforce Hanson. The Seventh Illinois, which constituted the right of Cook's advance moving through the timber where a ridge leads to a battery at a salient in General Buckner's line, suddenly found itself under fire and retired. Colonel Cook formed his line with the other four regiments upon a ridge overlooking the enemy's intrenchments, about six hundred yards from them, separated from them by a valley dense with timber, mostly cut so as to form abattis, and remained in this position for the night.
McClernand continued pressing all day to his right, following the course of the ridge along which the Wynn's Ferry road passes. By night his right nearly or quite reached the point where the Wynn's Ferry road issued from the intrenchments. His artillery was very active; the companies acting at times separately, at times uniting and concentrating their fire on some well-served battery, they silenced temporarily several batteries, and in the afternoon shelled some camps. A determined assault was made on the position held by Maney's battery, supported by Colonel Heiman with the Tenth, Forty-eighth, and Fifty-third Tennessee, and the Twenty-seventh Alabama. This position was, at the same time, the most salient and the most elevated in the entire line of intrenchment. It was so traced that both faces were swept by artillery and infantry fire from portions of the works to the right and the left. Colonel Morrison was directed with his brigade, the Seventeenth and Forty-ninth Illinois, to assault this position. Colonel Haynie, of the Forty-eighth Illinois, senior to Morrison, was ordered to join him and take the command. Morrison, on the right, assaulted the left face of the work; the Seventeenth and Twenty-fifth assaulted the right. Crossing the valley, they began the ascent, encountered the tangled abattis, and while striving to tear their way through it, under a plunging fire from the battery and the infantry above them, they were assailed by artillery and infantry from a long extent of line beyond. They recoiled from this toil and this double fire. The Forty-fifth Illinois was sent to reinforce Morrison. The four regiments started again, forced their way still farther up the abattis, and were again repelled. Undaunted, they rushed up the hill-side the third time. Part of the command pierced through the abattis and reached the rifle-pits. The summit of the rifle-pits was a blaze of musketry. Maney's guns hurled shrapnel into their faces. To Morrison's right and to Haynie's left, the long line of rifle-pits was a line of musketry, and from projecting points the batteries sent their fire. Morrison was wounded. His men could not climb over the intrenchment. The regiments recalled, fell back in order out of fire. The dead leaves on the hill-side were inflamed in some way, in this close contest, and when artillery and musketry had ceased, helpless wounded lying on the hill-side were burned to death. Colonel Heiman's men, leaping over their works, were able to save some. General Buckner reported his loss in the assault on Hanson's position as thirty-nine killed and wounded. Ten killed and thirty wounded were reported as Heiman's loss, most of them in Maney's battery. Nearly every regiment in the entire line of the intrenchments suffered some casualties from the National artillery. The national loss was more severe. The pertinacity of the attack through the day prevented the besieged from suspecting the inferiority in numbers of the attacking force.
The Carondelet, a thirteen-gun ironclad, arrived in the morning of the 13th, and fired at the water-batteries at long-range. One shot struck a thirty-two-pound gun, disabling it, and killed Captain Dixon, of the engineers, who had assisted Colonel Gilmer in the construction of both Henry and Donelson. A shot from the one hundred and twenty-eight-pound gun in the upper battery, entering a porthole, damaged the machinery of the Carondelet, and she drew out of range.
The fleet, together with transports bringing reinforcements and supplies, arrived toward evening. McClernand had moved so far around to the right as to leave a wide gap between his left and Smith's division. McArthur's brigade, of Smith's division, was moved to the right. Near midnight, upon the request of General McClernand, McArthur detached two regiments and moved them farther to the right, to within a quarter of a mile of McClernand's left. Severe wind set in with the night. Snow fell and the ground froze. Fires could not be lighted by either army. Some of McClernand's regiments, having thrown away their blankets on going into action, sat up all night.
General Lewis Wallace arrived from Fort Henry about noon, Friday, the 14th, and was placed in command of a division of troops just arrived on the transports, styled Third Division. The First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Charles Cruft, consisted of the Seventeenth and Twenty-fifth Kentucky, and the Thirty-first and Forty-fourth Indiana. The Third Brigade, commanded by Colonel John M. Thayer, comprised the Fifty-eighth and Seventy-sixth Ohio, and the First Nebraska. The Second Brigade was not organized; but in the course of Saturday, the Forty-sixth, Fifty-seventh, and Fifty-eighth Illinois and Twentieth Ohio, reported separately, and were assigned to duty. General Wallace moved into position on the right of General C.F. Smith, so as to hold the narrow ridge or spur which faced the right of Buckner's line, and was separated from McClernand by the valley of Indian Creek.
The day was quiet along the National lines, and was spent in defining and adjusting the commands in position. Skirmishers exchanged occasional shots, and artillerists from time to time tried the range of their guns. McClernand moved his right still nearer to the river, Oglesby's brigade reaching nearly to the extreme left of the Confederate works, and to the head of the back-water up the valley of the small brooks above Dover; the Eighth, Eighteenth, and Twenty-ninth Illinois were respectively posted across the three roads, which, leaving the main road along the ridge, called Wynn's Ferry road, crossed the hollow and through the enemy's intrenchments into Dover. The cavalry reconnoitered around the enemy's left, to the muddy and overflowed bottom extending back from the river immediately above Dover.
According to the report of General Buckner it was decided, in a council of general officers held that morning, to cut a way for the garrison out through the enclosing force at once, before delay would make it impracticable; that General Pillow was to lead, and Buckner to cover the retreat of the army if the sortie proved successful. Buckner made the necessary preparations, but early in the afternoon the order was countermanded by General Floyd, at the instance of General Pillow, who, after drawing out his troops for the attack, thought it too late for the attempt. Though this is not mentioned in the reports of General Floyd, General Pillow, or Colonel Gilmer, Colonel Baldwin in his report says that General Buckner formed his division in open ground to the left and rear of the intrenchments, for the purpose, apparently, of attacking the National right, Colonel Baldwin's command being the head of the column; that the column marched out by a road about two hundred yards from the left of the intrenchments, and approached the right of the National line by a course nearly perpendicular to it; but, after advancing a quarter of a mile, General Pillow said it was too late in the day to accomplish anything, and the troops returned to their quarters. Major Brown, commanding the Twentieth Mississippi, reports substantially the same, and adds they were under fire as soon as they began the advance, and one of his men was shot before they advanced one hundred yards.
About three o'clock in the afternoon Flag Officer Foote moved his fleet up the river to attack the fort. The flag-ship St. Louis and three other ironclads, the Carondelet, Louisville, and Pittsburg, each armed with thirteen guns, advanced, followed by the wooden gunboats Tyler and Conestoga. The water-battery attacked was a mere trench twenty feet wide, sunk in the hill-side. The excavated earth thrown up outside the ditch made a rampart twelve feet through at the summit. Carefully laid sand-bags added to the height of the rampart, and left narrow spaces for embrasures; narrow, but sufficient there, where the channel of the river, straight and narrow, required the fleet to advance in a straight line and with a narrow front. Such a work, at an elevation of thirty feet above the water, was almost unassailable.
The gunboats opened fire when a mile and a half from the fort, and continued advancing slowly and firing rapidly till the ironclads were within four hundred yards of the battery. The boats could use only their bow-guns, three on each boat. After a severe action of an hour and a half, a solid shot entering the pilot-house of the flag-ship, carried away the wheel, and the tiller-ropes of the Louisville were disabled by a shot. The relieving-tackles being no longer able to steer or control these boats in the rapid current, they became wholly unmanageable, and drifted down the river. The other two boats were also damaged, and the whole fleet withdrew. There were fifty-four, officers and men, killed and wounded on the fleet—Commodore Foote being one of the wounded. The flag-ship alone was struck fifty-nine times. One rifled gun on the Carondelet burst during the action. The terrible pounding by the heavy navy guns seems to have inflicted no injury upon the earthworks, their armament, or the men.
Transports arrived in the course of the day, bringing additional reinforcements. General McArthur was ordered at 5 P.M. to occupy ground on the extreme right of the National line, to act as a reserve to General Oglesby. He reached the assigned position in the dark, about 7 P.M., and "encamped for the night, without instructions and without adequate knowledge of the nature of the ground in front and on the right." The troops, without shelter and without fires, suffered another night of cold and wind and snow and sleet, after a day without food.
In the night, General Floyd, in council with General Pillow, General Buckner, and Colonel Gilmer, determined to make a sortie in the morning, and, if practicable, cut a way out, and retreat by the Wynn's Ferry road to Charlotte. Pillow was to begin with an attack on McClernand's right, assisted by the cavalry. When he should succeed in pushing back the right, Buckner was to issue from the works and strike the division near its centre. When the whole of the division should be rolled back onto Lewis Wallace, leaving a cleared way out into the country over the road, Pillow's division was to lead, and Buckner to hold the National forces back and afterward serve as rear-guard on the retreat to Charlotte. The brigade commanders were sent for and received instructions. No instructions were given to them, nor was anything said in the council, as to what supplies the troops should carry, and some regiments took neither knapsacks nor rations. Before dawn, Saturday, the 15th, Pillow's division began assembling, as on the previous day, on open ground in rear of the extreme left of the intrenchments. Colonel Baldwin, who was posted with two of his regiments, the Twenty-sixth Tennessee and Twenty-sixth Mississippi, in Pillow's portion of the intrenchments, while the rest of his brigade was west of Indian Creek, under Buckner, held the advance, the Twentieth Mississippi being added to his command, giving him a temporary brigade of three regiments. Colonel Heiman, with his brigade and Maney's battery, strengthened by the Forty-second Tennessee, were to remain in position and thence aid the attack while it was going on. The Thirtieth Tennessee was to occupy the trenches vacated by Buckner, while the Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Tennessee were to act as garrison to the main work—the fort.
Commodore Foote wrote to General Grant desiring an interview with him, and asking, as he was disabled by wounds, to be excused from going to see Grant, requested that the interview be held on the flag-ship. The Twentieth Ohio, which had arrived on transports the evening before and was ordered to report to General Lewis Wallace the day before, while marching after breakfast from the boats to the fort, met General Grant with some of his staff riding down the river road to where the boats lay. The sally had been made and the attack begun; but there was nothing in the sound that came through several miles of intervening forest to indicate anything more serious than McClernand's previous assaults.
Baldwin's brigade, leaving the intrenchments at 6 A.M., marched by the right flank out a narrow and obstructed byroad, crossed the valley in front of the works, and, while ascending the slope beyond, encountered what they supposed to be a line of pickets. But Oglesby's hungry men had slept little that cold night, and by simply rising to their feet were in line of battle. Baldwin's brigade, in attempting to deploy, was thrown into confusion, repeatedly rallied, and was thrown into disorder and pushed back before its line was established. Colonel Baldwin, in his report, says that deployment forward into line would have brought his men into such an exposed situation that he threw his regiment first into column of company, then deployed on the right into line, and admits that practising tactics with new troops under fire is a different thing from practice on the drill-ground. The movement that Colonel Baldwin attempted with his leading regiment, the Twenty-sixth Mississippi, is the same that General Sigel accomplished at Pea Ridge with such brilliant effect, where he had by artillery fire to drive back the enemy's line to gain room for each successive deployment.
The firing sufficiently notified General McArthur where he was, and, without waiting for orders, he formed his brigade into line on Oglesby's right. Pillow's division, continually filing out from the intrenchments, continually extended his line to his left. McArthur, to gain distance to his right, widened the intervals between his regiments, refused his right, and prolonged it by a skirmish line. Oglesby brought into action Schwartz's battery, then commanded by Lieutenant Gumbart, and the batteries in position in the besieged intrenchments joined in the combat. A tenacious fight, face to face, ensued—so stationary that its termination seemed to be a mere question of endurance and ammunition. General Pillow moved the Twentieth Mississippi by wheeling its left to the front. In this position the regiment suffered so severely that it withdrew and took shelter behind a rising ground. A depression was found by which General B.R. Johnson's brigade could find comparative protection while moving to their left and gaining distance to their front. General McArthur found his right flank turned and his ammunition nearly exhausted, and withdrew his brigade to a new position several hundred yards to his rear. Oglesby moved the Eighteenth Illinois to the right, to partially fill the vacated line, and brought up the Thirtieth Illinois from its position in reserve to take the place left by the Eighteenth. Colonel Lawler, of the Eighteenth, was wounded early in the engagement. Captain Brush, who had succeeded to the command, was wounded while carrying out this movement. The ammunition of the Eighteenth being now nearly gone, it retired in good order to replenish, leaving 44 of its number dead, and 170 wounded on the ground where it had stood.
McClernand, when he found his command heavily pressed, sent to Lewis Wallace, the adjoining division commander, for aid. Wallace sent to Grant's headquarters for instructions, but the General was away on the flag-ship, and his staff did not take the responsibility of acting in his place. Wallace, having been ordered to act on the defensive, declined to move without first receiving an order. When McArthur fell back, Oglesby's right became enveloped, McClernand repeated his request, and Wallace, seeing the affair was serious, took the responsibility, and ordered Cruft's brigade to advance. The Twenty-fifth Kentucky, on coming up, by some mistake fired into the Eighth and Twenty-ninth Illinois. These regiments and the Thirtieth Illinois broke and retired. The Eighth had lost 55 killed and 188 wounded; the Twenty-ninth, 25 killed and 60 wounded; the Thirtieth, 19 killed and 71 wounded. The wounded had been taken off to a building in the rear, which was turned into a hospital. Cruft maintained his position stoutly, receiving and making charges, and firing steadily from line. His men found the same difficulty that is mentioned in reports of other commanders, of distinguishing the enemy except when close at hand, or in motion. Their uniform, of the same color with the dead leaves of dense scrub-oak, uniforms and foliage at a short distance were undistinguishable. McArthur drew his brigade back out of the contest, halted, and obtained ammunition and rations. His men, who had fasted thirty-six hours, had one good meal before they moved toward night to the extreme left, in support of the troops there engaged. Cruft's brigade, being isolated, finally retired to the right and rear, and took position near the hospital.
When the rest of Oglesby's brigade retreated, the Thirty-first Illinois, Colonel John A. Logan, the left of the brigade and connecting with the right of Colonel W.H.L. Wallace's brigade, wheeled so as to have its line at right angles with the line of the enemy's intrenchments; for, as McArthur's and Oglesby's commands crumbled away, Pillow's division, rolling up McClernand's, were now advancing in a course parallel to the front of their intrenchments. The Thirty-first held its ground; but yielding was only a question of time. As Pillow's division in deploying continually increased its front, Colonel Baldwin's brigade was continually pressed to his right and came in front of W.H.L. Wallace's brigade. McCausland's brigade, consisting of the Thirty-sixth and Fiftieth Virginia, formed on Baldwin's right and in front of W.H.L. Wallace, Their assault was aided by the batteries in position in the intrenchments, and Wallace's batteries alternately replied to the artillery and played upon the line of infantry. Wallace held his line, and Pillow sent to Buckner to advance. Buckner held his command within the intrenchments massed, waiting for his opportunity. He sent three regiments, Third Tennessee, Eighteenth Tennessee, and Fourteenth Mississippi, across the intervening hollow. They attacked with spirit; but, confused by the missiles flying overhead, broken by pushing through the snow-covered boughs, and galled by the hot fire they encountered, they quickly fell back in disorder, and, according to General Buckner, communicated their depression to the rest of his command.
Toward noon, as McClernand's right was rolled up and began to crumble, Buckner, who had cheered his men, now led his division farther to his right, near to Heiman's position in the intrenchments; there he approached under cover till near Wallace's line. Three batteries supported his charge—Maney's, Porter's, and Graves', these three batteries concentrating their fire on Wallace's artillery. Forrest brought his cavalry forward. Wallace's brigade, with Taylor's and McAllister's batteries, and Logan's regiment, with boxes nearly empty, withstood the combined attack. McAllister fired his last round of ammunition. Taylor had fired seventeen hundred rounds of ammunition, an average of two hundred and eighty-three rounds to the piece. The infantry fired their last cartridge. The batteries of Maney, Graves, and Porter poured in their fire; the divisions of Pillow and Buckner aided—some regiments at a halt firing, but Buckner's advancing. Forrest's cavalry hovered on the outskirts. Wallace gave the command to fall back. McAllister had not horses left to haul off his three howitzers, and had to leave two. The order did not reach the Eleventh Illinois. The rest of the command fell back in regular order, and the Eleventh and Thirty-first continued fighting. Colonel Logan, of the Thirty-first, was wounded; the lieutenant-colonel was killed. Thirty others were killed. The ranks were thinned by the wounded who had fallen and been carried off the field. Ammunition was gone. Logan told Lieutenant-Colonel Ransom, of the Eleventh Illinois, who, having had his wound dressed, had returned to his regiment, that the Thirty-first must leave, and suggested that the Eleventh should take the position left by the Thirty-first. The Thirty-first marched steadily from the field, and the Eleventh, alone now, faced to the rear, wheeled to the left, and continued the fight. But, assailed on both flanks as well as in front, and finally charged by the cavalry, it was broken, and fell back in disorder. The brigade fell back half a mile.
Fugitives from the front passed by General Lewis Wallace, who was conversing with Captain Rawlins, General Grant's assistant adjutant-general. Among them a mounted officer galloped down the road, shouting, "We are cut to pieces." General Wallace at once ordered Colonel Thayer's brigade to the front. Marching by the flank, they soon met portions of Oglesby's and Colonel Wallace's brigades retiring from the field. They all stated they were out of ammunition. Thayer's brigade passed on at a double-quick. Position was taken; a battery, Company A, Chicago Light Artillery, commanded by Captain Wood, was posted across the road; to its right, the First Nebraska and Fifty-eighth Illinois; to the left, the Fifty-eighth Ohio and a company of the Thirty-second Illinois. The Seventy-sixth Ohio and Forty-sixth and Fifty-seventh Illinois were posted in reserve. As soon as this line was formed, interposed between the enemy and the retiring regiments, they halted and waited for ammunition. The line was scarcely formed before a force, coming up the road and through the forest, made a fierce attack. The assault was vigorous. The line remained steady, and, with fire deliberate and well aimed, quickly drove off the assailants. That closed the attack made by the sortie. Colonel Cruft's brigade, the position of which was not then known to General Wallace, was off at the right, near enough to see the repulsed force retire in the direction of the works. Cruft's brigade was brought into alignment with Thayer's, and Wallace held the ground with his division.
McClernand's division was swept from the ground which it had occupied. The desired road for retreat was open to the besieged. Buckner was in the position assigned to him, and halting, awaited his artillery and reserves from the intrenchments. General Pillow, who now found himself within the intrenchments at the salient, held by Colonel Heiman, directed the artillery to remain, and sent reiterated orders to Buckner to return and resume his position within the works. He was in the act of returning when he met General Floyd, who seemed surprised at the movement. After some conversation, in which both agreed that the original plan should be carried out, Floyd directed Buckner to remain till he could see Pillow. After consulting with Pillow, Floyd sent orders to Buckner to retire within the lines, and to repair as rapidly as possible to his former position on the extreme right, which was in danger of attack. By order of General B.R. Johnson, Colonel Drake's brigade and the Twentieth Mississippi remained on the field.
General Grant, at his interview on the flag-ship, was advised of the serious injury to the fleet, and informed that Commodore Foote, leaving his two ironclads least injured to protect the transports at the landing, would proceed to Cairo with the other two, repair them, hasten the completion of the Benton and mortar-boats, and return to the prosecution of the siege. General Grant, upon this, made up his mind to intrench, and with reinforcements complete the investment of the enemy's works. Reaching the lines about one o'clock on his return, he learned the state of affairs, ordered General C.F. Smith to prepare to storm the works in his front, repaired to the right, inspected the condition of the troops, and gave orders to be ready to attack when General Smith should make his assault.
The Fifty-second Indiana had been detached from Colonel Cook's brigade to watch a gap in the intrenchments, near the extreme right of the besieged line. At two o'clock General Smith ordered the assault by Lauman's brigade; the Fifty-second Indiana was temporarily attached to the brigade. The assaulting force was formed in column of battalions of five companies each. The Second Iowa was in advance, with General Smith in its centre, and followed in order by the Fifty-second Indiana, Twenty-fifth Indiana, Seventh Iowa, and Fourteenth Iowa. Birge's sharpshooters, deployed on each flank, opened a skirmishing fire. The column advanced silently, without firing, crushed down the abattis, covered the hill-side with battalions, heedless of the fire from the garrison, pressed on to the works, leaped over, formed in line, and drove the defending regiment to further shelter.