Sunday, August 5, 2012

Colonel James M. Tuttle to his father, James Tuttle, February 18, 1862

FORT DONELSON, Feb. 18, 1862.

Dear Father: Long before you get this, the telegraph will inform you of the particulars of the capture of this very important post, and also the part the Second Iowa took in it. I do not know how the reports will reach you at home, but here we are covered with glory. I have been very busy since the battle, attending to the burying of the dead, and taking care of the wounded. I could find no time to write sooner.

I thought of nothing, while climbing the hill on “double quick” to storm the fort, but to keep my men in order and prevent confusion. When I saw my gallant boys scaling the earthworks and putting the Rebels to the bayonet, and shooting them down with still greater fatality than they had us just before, I felt like clasping each one of our brave boys in my arms. Our loss was very great, but theirs much greater. After the battle was over it was, and still is, terrible to think of. Joel and I were side by side most of the time. He fought bravely, even a little rashly sometimes. He was not touched. I was grazed by a ball which passed through my coat-sleeve and glove, hitting the hilt of my sword and knocking it over my head. The sudden wrenching of it out of my hand, paralyzed my arm during the rest of the engagement. I was afterward standing on a log, beckoning to another regiment behind us to come on, when a cannon ball struck the log, forcing it from under me. I fell backward on a limb, injuring my back very much; I cannot straighten it yet. Tell the Des Moines folks that their company did nobly. Capt. Mills and I were close together most of the time. He fought bravely. Lieuts. Ensign and Godfrey also did bravely. Sergt. Doty was among the bravest of the brave, and died like a hero. George Morse, of Farmington, also died bravely. He was one of the best sergeants of the regiment. We lost some noble young men, one out of every three, either killed or wounded. I was over the battle field to-day, and don't see how any of us escaped alive.  * * * * *


SOURCES: Samuel H. M. Byers, Iowa In War Times, p. 107

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