Showing posts with label Gunboats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gunboats. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, January 29, 1863

STEAMBOAT John Adams, 
January 29, 1863.

Again we are on our way into the heart of secesh. If we do not get blown to pieces before morning we shall get some distance above where any of our gunboats have been within a year. Tonight I have heard that a negro has come from the scene of the fight the other night, and he reports seven rebels killed, including their daring Capt. Clark. Capt. Clifton of this boat is a most singular mixture of candor and roughness and refinement. Though he swears like a trooper, there is a drollery and generosity and honesty about him that quite captivate me.

The other night I was standing beside him in silence after our troops had marched away from the shore, and the mate came up and asked permission to go ashore and get some hens. The Captain exclaimed, “Oh, my God! Doctor, just think of this man robbing henroosts right in the midst of death and damnation.” The deep, sepulchral voice with which this was uttered made the whole thing so tragico-comical that I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 352

Monday, August 10, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, July 8, 1864

The War Department keeps very close as to matters at Harper’s Ferry and vicinity. There is either little knowledge of what is doing, or a very great reluctance to communicate. Mr. Felton, President of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore R. R. sends me a, letter by private hands, stating that while he was not alarmed, he desired a gunboat at Gunpowder Creek, etc., to protect railroad property. Sent Fox to inquire of General Halleck as to the necessity. General H. thinks it unnecessary; but will advise us in season if wanted. Beyond this nothing is communicated.

Stanton tells me that he has no idea the Rebels are in any force above, and should not give them a serious thought, but that Grant says he thinks they are in force, without, however, giving his reasons or any facts. The President has been a good deal incredulous about a very large army on the upper Potomac, yet he begins to manifest anxiety. But he is under constraint, I perceive, such as I know is sometimes imposed by the dunderheads at the War Office, when they are in a fog, or scare, and know not what to say or do. It is not natural or the way of the President to withhold information, or speculation at such times, and I can always tell how things are with Halleck and Stanton when there are important movements going on. The President is now enjoined to silence, while Halleck is in a perfect maze, bewildered, without intelligent decision or self-reliance, and Stanton is wisely ignorant. I am inclined to believe, however, that at this time profound ignorance reigns at the War Department concerning the Rebel raid in the Shenandoah Valley; that they absolutely know nothing of it, — its numbers, where it is, or its destination. It has to me appeared more mischievous than to others. I think we are in no way prepared for it, and a fierce onset could not well be resisted. It is doubtful, however, whether the onset will be made, for it is the nature of man to lose his opportunities. The true course of the Rebels is to strike at once at this point.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 69-70

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Friday, February 14, 1862

Never was morning light more welcome than this morning's light is to the army of the Tennessee, for with it comes the camp fires. Everywhere, on the hills and in the ravines, their cheering light is seen. But the soldiers are still suffering. Their blankets are frozen, their clothes are wet. They stand everywhere shivering around the camp fires. It is still raining and sleeting, (having changed from sleet and snow). The loyal hearts would start tears of love, could they see how this mighty army is thus standing down on the banks of the Cumberland, with not a murmur heard to escape them. Imagining myself not one of these, but imagining myself disinterested, that I may be freed from accusations of egotism, I would say that manhood stands here—men of fidelity; men of unexampled devotion to the country, the flag and freedom. But how sad the fact to know that there are some who would know it not. Though it is cold, and the winds blow, and the soldiers are suffering, it is not long until the firing commences. We are now in range of the rebel batteries. The cannon balls are flying over our heads, snapping off the tree tops, and performing general havoc in the woods.

We are now remaining at a stand, in rear of the fort, and while here we hear heavy cannonading in the direction of the Cumberland. It is the gun-boats feeling Fort Donelson's strength. The sharp-shooters are doing their work. They greatly annoy the enemy by keeping them from their guns. No general fighting to-day, but the siege goes bravely on.

It is night now. It bids fair to be one of winter's cold, rayless nights; no moon, no stars are seen. Dark, threatening clouds, fling their curtains adown the sky, telling the boys in blue that they will suffer.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 32-3

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: February 7, 1862


A thick fog prevailed this morning and continued until about 9 o'clock, when it lifted and the gunboats got under way. Slowly they steamed towards the island and took their positions before the forts, but at a sufficient distance not to incur much damage from them. We were all eagerly watching the movements of the boats, when at about 10 o'clock, we saw white cloud rise from one of the boats, and the next moment a huge column of dirt and sand rose from the enemy's works, showing the effect of the shot. The fort replied from all its guns, but their shots fell short as the boats lay beyond their range. The bombardment now commenced in earnest, the boats sailing in a circle, and delivering their fire as they passed the fort. Their firing was not rapid, but well directed. The fort's guns blazed away as rapidly as possible, doing some damage to the boats. At noon the transports commenced the passage of the narrow channel into Croatan sound. From here we had a much nearer and better view of the bombardment. The boats were sailing much nearer the fort and firing more rapidly. They had driven the men from the guns on the fort, and their fire was feebly replied to. At this time the shells from the boats had set the barracks and other buildings near the fort on fire. Great clouds of smoke and flame rose from the burning buildings, and the boats belched forth their fire more furiously than ever, the shots tearing up the parapet of the fort or burying themselves in the mound of sand covering the magazine. It was truly a grand and fearful exhibition! Thousands looked on with breathless suspense, expecting every moment to see the magazine blow up or the rebels strike their colors.

The enemy's gunboats, which had been idle spectators behind the blockade, now came to the rescue; but a few well directed shots from 100-pounder rifles sent them reeling back to their places. From this time the boats had things their own way, the fort occasionally firing a shot as much as to say, we never surrender. During the bombardment a small sloop or yacht attracted a good deal of attention. She carried one 100-pounder gun. She lay low in the water, below the range of the enemy's guns, and was skilfully landled. She sailed in the circle, running close up to the fort and delivering her fire with telling effect. With every shot she fired she was cheered by the fleet; all the bands playing.


About 2 p.m., preparations were made to land the troops. The little steamer Pilot Boy, with Gen. Foster aboard, and about half a mile of barges in tow, was seen approaching our boat. I was standing near Col. Upton, at the gangway forward the wheelhouse, as the Pilot Boy ran alongside, and heard Gen. Foster tell the colonel to order his men to load with ball cartridge, take three days' rations and come aboard his boat and the barges as soon as possible. This loading with ball cartridge was a new order to me; it implied that our holiday soldiering was over. A peculiar feeling such as I had never before experienced came over me; I felt it to the very taps of my brogans, and thought I would rather be excused. I turned around and without saying a word to anyone went down stairs. Drawing Spitfire from its hiding place, I dropped in the little messenger that if needs be perhaps might carry mourning and sorrow to some southern hearthstone. In quick time we left the New York and were going towards the shore, followed by other boats containing the balance of our brigade. The intention was to land about four miles above the fort, in a little nook called Ashby bay, near Ashby house; but as we neared the bay, a line of bayonets seen above the bushes, going double quick in that direction, changed the general's mind, and we turned our course towards a marsh a mile or more nearer the fort. As we ran alongside the marsh where we were to land, Captain Pickett of company A made a leap for the land, going half way to his neck in mud and water. He was the first man on the island. At this time the line of bayonets above the bushes was seen coming back. The little gunboat Delaware now came up and commenced shelling the bushes and woods to cover our landing. In a few minutes we were all on the marsh and wading through the mud and water for the hard land, a distance of some forty rods. On reaching this we soon came out to a small clearing, on which was a house, barn and out-buildings, the occupants of which had suddenly taken their leave. Here we found things as the occupants had left them, the cat quietly sitting in the corner and the tea-kettle singing over the fire. Adjutant Harkness and Lieutenant Richter of company G climbed to the top of the house and nailed thereon a small flag in honor, I suppose, of our landing and notice of our intention of staying. Company A, Capt. Pickett, and company K, Capt. Denny, were sent out on a reconnoissance. They soon returned, reporting no enemy near. 5 p.m. Foster's brigade had all landed, and by dark nearly the whole division were ashore. Now commenced the work of carrying rails and planks to build a road across the marsh to get the howitzers of the marine artillery ashore. Soon after dark, Gen. Foster, with the 21st Massachusetts and a section of the marine artillery, hauling their howitzers, went past us into the woods to establish his picket line. After a while the general returned, and said we might build fires and make ourselves comfortable. Fires were kindled and we began to look around for places to sleep, but a rain setting in, put an end to that. In the rain we stood around the camp-fires through the long night, while an occasional shot out in the woods served to keep up a little excitement and prevent us from getting sleepy.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 32-4

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Monday Morning, February 3, 1862

The regiment takes passage on board the steamer City of Memphis, for parts unknown. Being nearly all day loading the camp and garrison equipage, the steamer does not move until 5 o'clock, P. M.

We now steer up the Ohio river; pass Paducah at midnight. The fourth dawns beautifully, finding us moving up the Tennessee river. Rumor has it that Fort Henry is our destination. The drums are now beating, colors flying and hearts beating high, for the face of the Seventh is Dixieward. The gun boats are leading the way, and five steamers follow in the wake of the Memphis. 'Tis evening now. We see in the dim distance Fort Henry's walls and the flaunting stars and bars. We disembark four miles from the Fort and go into camp on the bank of the river. Some one remarks that there is mud here, and so say we, and the most terrible mud. As the soldiers move through the camp this evening, their cry is: “No bottom !"

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 25

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Wednesday, February 5, 1862

This morning a fog hangs over the surrounding hills. About ten thousand troops are concentrated here. The gun-boats are anchored in the river, waiting for the land forces. A large number of troops are landing on the other side of the river. Everything this evening looks warlike.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 25-6

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Thursday, February 6, 1862

It is raining this morning; has been all night. There may be poetry in war, but there is no poetry in Camp Halleck (the name given to this camp by general orders). Mud predominates and the camp fires burn dimly. Soon the rain ceases and the clouds vanish; the sky becomes clear, and the sun sheds forth refreshing light, which is very welcome to the wet Seventh. But ere it is noon we have marching orders. The gun-boats, terrible looking monsters, are now steaming up towards Fort Henry. The army is put in motion. We look away; and around the hills and up the ravines we see the beautiful starry banners flying. It is our fate to be one of the rear regiments, and while waiting for the assembly to beat, the regiment ascends a hill close by, from where we first behold a rebel camp. We see the ensign of treason floating defiantly over the Fort. Mad, mad, men! that they would thus insult the mother that gave them birth. But ah! they are now being circumvented. The gunboats still keep steaming up towards the Fort. We predict that ere the sun sinks to rest, that banner, the representative of a wicked people, will be struck down, and that upon her staff the old Union's flag will flutter in the wind, and cast around Fort Henry her flashing light. Up a winding ravine we pass, over the hills we climb. The troops are aiming to get to the rear of the Fort, ere the bombardment commences. The roads are cut up terribly. The artillery mires down upon the hills; the Seventh lifts them out. We are now away on the Tennessee bluffs. Looking up the river we see a smoke; we hear a sullen roar. What means it all? It is a smoke and a roar from the gun-boat Essex. The ball is now open. In quick succession the mad machines of war give vent to their death-dealing elements. The troops seem eager for the fray, but it is evident the way the artillery is miring down, that it will only be a naval battle. Shot and shell, like living monsters, are now flying over and into Fort Henry. Moving on, the imposing scene is lost to our view; but like the rumble and roar of distant thunder, the echoes roll over the bluffs and cliffs of the Tennessee. All day we keep winding around through the woods, seeking to get to the rear of the Fort. Towards evening a messenger comes riding back and his voice rings out, “Fort Henry's flag is down and the rebels are flying.” It being imposible for the advanced troops to get to the rear in time to cut off the retreat, they now move up and take possession of the works. We go into camp in the woods one mile from the rebel works. Having been ordered to leave our knapsacks with the wagons this morning, we have in consequence no blankets nor overcoats to-night. It is cold. The soldiers are suffering; a bleak winter wind is blowing around them, but a rebel flag went down to-day, and the soldiers' hearts are glad, glad because in its stead floats the old Union's loved banner.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 26-7

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: December 1, 1861

To-day a rebel gunboat steamed up from Columbus and fired a few shots into Fort Holt. Our big gun below the camp of the Twenty-eighth Illinois returned the fire with a vim, after which the rebel machine drifts back to its own congenial clime, having accomplished nothing save a little fright.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 21

Monday, March 9, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, May 21, 1864

Last night I was at a party at Mr. Chase's, or his daughter Mrs. Sprague’s, and late in the evening he spoke to me of the great abuses in cotton speculations. It was a new and singular theme for him, and I said it could not be otherwise than demoralizing. He said, “Yes, your whole fleet out West is infected; Porter devotes his attention to getting cotton and has a boat to himself, with a piano and his pipe, on these cotton raids.” I replied this could not be so. The naval men could capture and retain nothing, which the courts do not adjudge to be good prize. We were interrupted at this point. I conclude the Committee on Commerce have notified Chase that they disapprove of his “Trade Regulations,” and this outburst on the Navy is to turn off attention from his officials. But we shall see.

Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps has been with me this evening and given me many interesting details concerning the Red River expedition and the incompetency of General Banks. Among other matters he relates some facts in regard to cotton speculations by persons connected with General Banks — some of his staff — that are exceedingly discreditable. Among others whom he specially mentions is one Clark from Auburn, New York, who appears to be managing director of the cotton operations.

Our gunboats are detained above the falls at Alexandria and we may lose them, though it is possible there yet may be a rise before June. The expedition has many bad features, of which we shall be better informed hereafter.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 36-7

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote to Major-General Henry W. Halleck, January 28, 1862

CAIRO, January 28, 1862.
Saint Louis, Mo.:

Commanding General Grant and myself are of opinion that Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, can be carried with four iron-clad gunboats and troops to permanently occupy. Have we your authority to move for that purpose when ready?

A. H. FOOTE,                       

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 120

Saturday, February 1, 2020

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, February 12, 1863

(Private and Confidential)
New Orleans, February 12th, 1863.

Dear Sir: Enclosed is General Orders No. 14—in part concerning Plantation supplies, etc.

Also, copy of contract between T. P. May, an intelligent and progressive planter, and white laborers to be employed by him in raising cotton and sugar. It is a great experiment and Mr. May is the man to succeed in it. He is a young man—at heart an Abolitionist, and his plantation is one of the finest in Louisiana.

My late announcement of the commencement of military movements was premature. Everything moves very slowly here. The movement has not actually commenced however.

A force under Weitzel will advance up the Teche. Another force will advance westwardly from Plaquemine on the River. The two forces will meet at New Iberia or St. Martinsville.

Bute la Rose is a lake or wide bayou between Plaquemine and St. Martinsville, and at this point is a rebel battery and fortifications. This will be reduced by the Plaquemine force aided by gunboats.

After the junction of the two forces at or near St. Martinsville a force of 3,000 or 4,000 will be detached and accompany the gunboats up the Atchafalaya bayou to Red River near its mouth.

The Gunboats to be used are those built by Gen. Butler— of very light draft and iron-clad.

You will understand the above statement by reference to the Rebel map I sent you.

Affairs here are not in a prosperous condition. Great dissatisfaction exists in at least some portions of the army. Even Gen. Banks new troops to some extent—and Butler's old troops to a man, would hail Butler's return with enthusiasm. Banks' policy seems to be conciliatory and hesitating. He seems afraid of responsibilities. General Butler is utterly fearless. Several desertions have occurred, by soldiers who wish to be taken and paroled, but this is kept secret here.

It is my opinion that Government has made exchanges too easy. It would be better to allow no exchange of prisoners. Then we should not hear of disgraceful surrenders—or of desertions by men sick of the service. In this and other respects the war should be made sharper and more earnest. The greater advantage of exchanges as now permitted, is in favor of the Rebels, and the disadvantage is our own. Our men will not so easily surrender and rarely desert, if they know they must endure, for the rest of the war, the privations and discomforts of the Confederacy. Now they have every inducement to do both.

Gen. Banks seems to me to be no judge of men. He selects honest subordinates for the most part—but his staff are, generally, green, inexperienced—of little ability—and one or two of them are fit objects of ridicule. Conciliation, inefficiency, inexperience and hesitation characterize all proceedings. There is no use in such criticism, however, when the President himself sends here as his private correspondent a vulgar little scoundrel like Dr. Zachary—who takes bribes and whose only object is to make money.

Personally I like Gen. Banks exceedingly, but a Northern man needs six months experience here in order to be efficient in this peculiar country and .among its peculiar people. Gen. Butler has that experience, and his return would at once change everything for the better.

The nine months men are dissatisfied and demoralized. I think Butler could not only remove such feeling, but make most of them re-enlist. Whatever Butler did, pleased and satisfied the Army, because they had confidence in, and admired him. This is not at all true of Gen. Banks.

The sooner Gen. Butler comes back the better it will be.

In one respect there is a very disagreeable condition of things here. A host of speculators, Jews and camp-followers, came hither in the track of Banks' expedition. They have continued to arrive and every steamer brings an addition to the number. Each expects to be a millionaire in six months. They have few scruples about the means of satisfying their cupidity.

I regard them as natural enemies, and in our constant war, they are generally worsted. The whole crowd, and Dr. Zachary among them, with eager expectancy like wolves about to seize their prey, await the advent of the new collector, who is a good natured man, and supposed to be easily imposed upon.

I think that spies, intriguers, dishonest speculators, and liars are more abundant here now than any where else in America. It seems as if everything must be accomplished by intrigue and management. It was not so three months ago.

In troublous times like these each man of merit has opinions—proclaims them—defends and sustains them, else he is, politically speaking, a "trimmer."

I told Gen. Banks so the other day.

I am not familiar with Banks' political history. Was he ever a Trimmer?

Perhaps he is a conservative! To a friend of mine Gen. Banks the other day declared himself to be neither a proslavery nor anti-slavery man.

What is he then?

I do not know, Mr. Chase, anything about your feelings toward Gen. Banks or any one else, but write always my own opinions without reference to those of others.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 358-60

Friday, October 25, 2019

Major-General Henry W. Halleck to Brigadier-General Don Carlos Buell, February 7, 1862

SAINT Louis, February 7, 1862.
Brig. Gen. D.C. BUELL, Louisville, Ky.:

GENERAL: My telegrams of to-day are so full that I have very little to add in answer to your letter of the 5th. You say you regret that we could not have consulted on this move earlier. So do I, most sincerely. I had no idea of commencing the movement before the 15th or the 20th instant till I received General McClellan's telegram about the re-enforcement sent to Tennessee or Kentucky with Beauregard. Although not ready, I deemed it important to move instantly. I believe I was right. We must hold. Fort Henry must be held at all hazards. I am sending there every man I can get hold of, without regard to the consequences of abandoning posts in this State. If the rebels rise, I will put them down afterwards. Grant's force is small—only 15,000. Eight thousand more are on the way to re-enforce him. If we can sustain ourselves and advance up the Cumberland or Tennessee, Bowling Green must be abandoned. I suppose the mud there, as it is here, is too deep for movements outside of railroads and rivers.

The enemy has the railroads, and we must use the rivers—at least for the present. Unfortunately our gunboats are badly disabled. They will be repaired as soon as possible. In the mean time we must push on with infantry and artillery on transports I have no train, and most of the regiments are without means of transportation on land. I hope you will help us all you can. I deem the holding of Fort Henry of vital importance to both of us.

I write in great haste, but you will understand the purport of what I wish to express.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
 H. W. HALLECK,   

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 593

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant to Major-General Henry W. Halleck, February 6, 1862

Fort Henry, February 6, 1862.

Fort Henry is ours. The gunboats silenced the batteries before the investment was completed. I think the garrison must have commenced the retreat last night. Our cavalry followed, finding two guns abandoned in the retreat.

I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th and return to Fort Henry.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Saint Louis, Mo.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 124; Alexis Cope, The Fifteenth Ohio Volunteers and Its Campaigns: War of 1861-5, p. 70.

Major-General Henry W. Halleck to Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant or Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foot, February 7, 1862

Saint Louis, February 7, 1862.
Brigadier-General GRANT or Flag-Officer FOOTE,
Fort Henry :

Push the gunboats up the river to cut the railroad bridges. Troops to sustain the gunboats can follow in transports.

H. W. HALLECK,    

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 591

Major-General Henry W. Halleck to Major-General George B. McClellan, February 7, 1862

SAINT LOUIS, February 7, 1862.

Gunboats and cavalry ordered up the Tennessee River to destroy bridges. I think the enemy is collecting forces at Paris to prevent this by threatening our right flank. Paris must be taken. I am throwing in additional forces as rapidly as possible, and want all I can get. Fort Donelson will probably be taken to-morrow. Possibly a dash can be made on Columbus, but I think not. It is very strong. I shall endeavor to cut the railroad at Union City, and if possible occupy New Madrid, so as to cut off supplies by the river; but these movements must depend upon the arrival of troops and the condition of the roads, which are now almost impassable.

H. W. HALLECK,    

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 591-2

Major-General Henry W. Halleck to Brigadier-General Don Carlos Buell, February 7, 1862

Saint Louis, February 7, 1862.
Brig. Gen. D.C. BUELL, Louisville, Ky.:

Fort Henry is ours. The enemy is retreating on Paris, pursued by our cavalry. He has been compelled to abandon a part of his artillery. The gunboats will proceed up the river as far as may be safe. It is believed that the enemy is concentrating his forces at Paris, to operate on our flank. It will require every man we can get to hold him in check there, while a column is sent up the Tennessee or Cumberland, or both, to destroy bridges. We are much in want of artillery. Send down as many light batteries as you can spare. General Grant expects to take Fort Donelson (at Dover) to-morrow. If troops are sent up the Cumberland they will be preceded by gunboats.

H. W. HALLECK,    

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 592

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

General Albert Sidney Johnston to Judah P. Benjamin, February 8, 1862

Bowling Green, Ky., February 8, 1862.
Secretary of War:

SIR: No reliable particulars of the loss of Fort Henry have yet reached me. This much, however, is known, that nearly all of the force at Fort Henry retreated to Fort Donelson, and it is said that General Tilghman and about 80 officers and men surrendered in the fort.

The capture of that fort by the enemy gives them the control of the navigation of the Tennessee River, and their gunboats are now ascending the river to Florence. Operations against Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland, are about to be commenced, and that work will soon be attacked. The slight resistance at Fort Henry indicates that the best open earthworks are not reliable to meet successfully a vigorous attack of iron-clad gunboats, and, although now supported by a considerable force, I think the gunboat of the enemy will probably take Fort Donelson without the necessity of employing their land force in co-operation, as seems to have been done at Fort Henry.

Our force at Fort Donelson, including the force from Fort Henry and three regiments of General Floyd's command, is about 7,000 men, not well armed or drilled, except Heiman's regiment and the regiments of Floyd's command. General Floyd's command and the force from Hopkinsville is arriving at Clarksville, and can, if necessary, reach Donelson in four hours by steamers which are there.

Should Fort Donelson be taken, it will open the route to the enemy to Nashville, giving them the means of breaking the bridges and destroying the ferry-boats on the river as far as navigable.

The occurrence of the misfortune of losing the fort will cut off the communication of the force here under General Hardee from the south bank of the Cumberland. To avoid the disastrous consequences of such an event I ordered General Hardee yesterday to make, as promptly as it could be done, preparations to fall back to Nashville and cross the river.

The movements of the enemy on my right flank would have made a retrograde in that direction to confront the enemy indispensable in a short time. But the probability of having the ferriage of this army corps across the Cumberland intercepted by the gunboats of the enemy admits of no delay in making the movement.

Generals Beauregard and Hardee are, equally with myself, impressed with the necessity of withdrawing our force from this line at once.

With great respect, your obedient servant,
General, C. S. Army.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 863-4

Monday, October 21, 2019

Special Dispatch to the Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1862

FORT HENRY, Tenn., February 9, 1862
Via. Cairo, the 11th.

A force of the 2nd Illinois cavalry under Major Mudd, made a reconnoissance to-day in the direction of Fort Donelson.  An advance guard of some forty men, encountered a superior number of the rebel cavalry about seven miles on the main road to Dover.  Capt. Brink, ordnance officer, who accompanied the command, with Carson, were in the advance, and discovered the enemy and gave notice to our cavalry who were feeding some distance in the rear.  The rebels advanced on our small force and gave them battle to a cross road.  Some 20 more of our cavalry coming up to the assistance of our struggling little band, the enemy turned and took to flight with a loss of 5 killed and 23 prisoners, among whom was the captain of the rebel band.  Our loss was 1 man wounded and 1 horse killed.

Gen. Grant and staff to-day, also made a reconnoissance to within 4 miles of Fort Donelson, and a complete knowledge of the roads was obtained.

The Reconnoitering transport steamer H. H. Brown, in charge of Capt. Logan, aid to Gen. Grant, with Col. Riggins and Col. A. H. Markland, the military Mail Agent accompanying the army, made another trip to-day to the railroad bridge across the river at Danville, where a large quantity of army stores, wagons, hides and numerous other articles of value were obtained.

From All appearances in every direction from the Fort, the rebel retreat assumed a complete panic and stampede.  At Danville the quarters of the troops gave evidence that they fled while in the act of preparing either dinner or supper.  The cooking utensils contained the allowance of their morsel.  Beds and cabin furniture were strewn about in reckless confusion, and terror and dismay seem to have filled the breast of the occupants.

An unfinished letter from a soldier to his sister, was found, dated the 6th, (the day of the battle) which stated that the 7th regiment left there the night previous for the fort leaving every room for the conclusion that actual force at this place on the day of the capture of this Fort was not less than 12,000.

Col. Markland, by order of Gen. Grant, took possession of eleven bags of mail matter at Danville and closed the office yesterday.

Gen. Grant and staff visited Danville and took possession of a large amount of property of the same character as that taken to-day, besides the ferry steamer J. M. Martin, which was brought down to this point.

The bridge is a magnificent structure of about 1200 feet in length, besides about 400 feet of trestle work.  The piers of the spans, some nine in number, are built of granite, and in the strongest manner.  The trestle work has been partly destroyed to its being used by rebels.

Reinforcements are arriving very rapidly.  The 14th Iowa, the 13th Missouri, a battalion of Birge’s sharpshooters, the 43rd and 17th Illinois regiments, all arrived during last night and to-day.

The gunboats which went up the river after the capture of the fort have not yet been heard from.

SOURCE: “Special Dispatch to the Chicago Tribune,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, February 12, 1862

Friday, October 18, 2019

Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant to Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, February 15, 1862

CAMP NEAR FORT DONELSON, February 15, 1862.
Commanding Officer Gunboat Flotilla :

If all the gunboats that can will immediately make their appearance to the enemy it may secure us a victory. Otherwise all may be defeated. A terrible conflict ensued in my absence, which has demoralized a portion of my command, and I think the enemy is much more so. If the gunboats do not show themselves, it will reassure the enemy and still further demoralize our troops. I must order a charge to save appearances. I do not expect the gunboats to go into action, but to make appearance and throw a few shells at long range.

U.S. GRANT,            
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 618

Brigadier-General George W. Cullum to Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant, February 12, 1862

CAIRO, ILL., February 12, 1862.
Brig. Gen. U.S. GRANT:

Like yourself, I am most too busy to write a word. I am now sending everything up the Cumberland by General Halleck's direction. Flag-Officer Foote left at 9 last night with three armored gunboats, and must now be on the way to Fort Donelson, which, with their aid, I hope to hear you have taken in a few days, and the backbone of secession broken. I am sending re-enforcements up very fast. Let me know your wants. I will write Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson in a short time.


SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 7 (Serial No. 7), p. 608