The following Private letter, written by a former attaché of the New York Post Office, presents another side of the victory gained at Fort Donelson, from that which is generally contemplated:
FORT DONELSON, Tenn., Feb. 17.
MY DEAR FATHER – Sad, lonely, and downhearted, I attempt to write you a few lines, to let you know I am alive and unhurt. We have had a most bloody fight; there must have been from 5,000 to 7,000 men killed and wounded on both sides. But the enemy surrendered on Saturday evening, we taking about 13,000 prisoners. But, dear father, the hardest part of the story is, that out of eighty-five men in my company, only seven came out – the most wholesale slaughter that was ever heard of.
My company was the color company, at which the rebels took particular aim; as fast as one man who carried it would be shot, another would take his place, but the flag was brought through. Only 116 remain in the 11th regiment uninjured.
Do not wonder, dear father, that I am downhearted. My boys all loved me, and need I say that, in looking at the poor remnant of my company – the men that I have taken so much pains to drill, the men that I thought so much of – now nearly all in their graves, I feel melancholy. But I do not complain. God spared my life, and for what, the future must tell. The Eleventh Regiment will, I think (what is remaining,) be left to guard the prisoners at Cairo or Alton, while they recruit. Whether I shall attempt to raise another company, I do not know at present. Good bye. Let the folks at home know I am safe. Yours, affectionately,
L. D. WADDELL, Captain, Co. E,
11th Regiment Illinois Vol.
(what is left of it.)
Wm. Coventry H. Waddell, Esq., N. Y.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 8, 1862, p. 2