Abbildungen der Seite

Some of the scenes among the people were referred to in the following lines published at the time :


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]



[ocr errors]


N the 10th of February, Grant wrote to Foote, “I

have been waiting very patiently for the return of the gunboats under Com. Phelps, to go around on the Cumberland, whilst I march my land-forces across to make a simultaneous attack


Fort Donelson.” It was six days before the army could be moved. Fort Donelson was a far more formidable place than Fort Henry. It enclosed nearly a hundred acres, on a bluff a hundred feet high. It was defended by sixty-five guns, among them a ten-inch Columbiad, sixty-four and thirty-two pounders, water-batteries on the river, and on land felled timbers breast-high, — the whole garrisoned by about twenty-one thousand men. It was one of the strongest works in the South or North.

Generals Buckner, Pillow, and Floyd were in command.

After the fall of Fort Henry, the men had worked day and night to enlarge and render the works impregnable. Its importance to the Confederacy was well understood by the rebel government. It was the key to Nashville, the capital of Tennessee. It had been made a large dépôt of supplies; and its fall would compel the evacuation of Bowling Green, which had even then been partially weakened to re-enforce Donelson, so important was it deemed to hold the latter at all hazards.

On the morning of the 12th, the army began its march: the bands played patriotic airs, the flags danced in the sunlight, and the men were determined to conquer or die. Grant carried no tents or baggage; he took only bullets, guns, and rations; he threw up no intrench

, ments ; his picks were pickets ; his spades were those described as having been used in the burial of Sir John Moore on the Heights of Coruña,

“ We buried him darkly at dead of night,

The sods with our bayonets turning.

The exact number of the rebels was then unknown; and, after giving directions as fully as possible, Grant added in his field-order, in regard to the details of the attack, “The necessary orders will be given on the field.

Gen. C. F. Smith had the left, and Gen J. A. McClernand had the right, of the national line, which was gradually extended to nearly three miles in length, in the form of a crescent.

The men bivouacked in line of battle with their arms in their hands, and were constantly under fire from the rebel breastworks. Many of the men had thoughtlessly thrown away their blankets. No fires could be lighted ; and near daylight there was a severe snow-storm. Through the night, the rebels dropped shells frequently over our lines; and the suffering of our troops was very great.

Before daylight, on Friday the 14th, the welcome sound of the gunboats was heard on the river, and Com. Foote arrived with four ironclads and two wooden gunboats. At three o'clock in the afternoon, they moved up to within four hundred yards of the heaviest guns of the fort. There, until half-past four, they maintained a most unequal fight. The elevation and number of the rebel guns, their great weight of metal, both from the fort and the water-batteries, placed the boats at a great disadvantage. At last, the wheel of “ The St. Louis” and the tiller of “ The Louisville” were shot

away, and they were rendered useless; a rifled gun exploded upon another boat; “ The Carondelet” received a 120pounder in one of her forward ports ; Com. Foote was wounded; and the disabled fleet was compelled to fall back out of the

of the

guns. Grant then wrote, “ Appearances now are that we shall have a protracted siege here. ... I fear the result of an attempt to carry the place by storm with new troops. I feel great confidence, however, of ultimately reducing the place."

Another night of piercing wind, snow, and sleet, came down upon the devoted soldiers.

No regrets were heard, no impatience manifested. They only seemed eager for the hour when they could show traitors how brave men could fight and die for the land they loved. Grant seemed omnipresent. Without food or sleep he was everywhere, and yet appeared to be exactly at the place where required at the proper moment.

At two o'clock at night, he received the following note from the wounded commodore:


FLAGSIIIP “ St. Louis,” Feb. 14, 1862. Gen. GRANT, commanding United States Forces.

DEAR GENERAL, — Will you do me the favor to come on board at your earliest convenience ? As I am disabled from walking, from a contusion, I cannot possibly get to see you about the disposition of these vessels, all of which are more or less disabled.

A. S. FOOTE, Flag-Officer. The rebels, seeing the gunboats retire, were greatly encouraged, and determined to move out early Saturday morning, drive back the Union line, overwhelm Grant's army, and win one of the greatest victories of

the war.

At daylight, Floyd massed his troops heavily on the left, who advanced under Gen. Pillow against McArthur's brigade, on our extreme right, where our line was thin and weakest. They came on with a daring and bravery worthy of a better cause; and for two hours the fighting was terrific. At this time, two or three of our regiments were broken, and one or two more were out of ammunition; and the Union line wavered. Gen. McClernand sent word back that Buckner had joined Pillow, and he should be destroyed unless re-enforced.

Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who commanded the centre, now advanced to his support, accompanied by Logan. Both were fearless, and both were magnetic men, who inspired their soldiers with their own indomitable spirit. They and their troops fought with a courage which drew forth the admiration of their enemies. But one regiment, misdirected by a guide, took the wrong road, and was delayed; the ammunition was getting short ; and, after long and heavy fighting, the whole right wing had been pushed back by the furious and long-continued assaults of the rebel columns.

Until this time, Grant had been in consultation with Foote, on the gunboat, three or four miles distant.

« ZurückWeiter »