The Memoirs of General Ulysses S. Grant, Part 2.
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 2 out of 3

Mill Springs before we returned.

As a result of this expedition General Smith reported that he thought it
practicable to capture Fort Heiman. This fort stood on high ground,
completely commanding Fort Henry on the opposite side of the river, and
its possession by us, with the aid of our gunboats, would insure the
capture of Fort Henry. This report of Smith's confirmed views I had
previously held, that the true line of operations for us was up the
Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. With us there, the enemy would be
compelled to fall back on the east and west entirely out of the State of
Kentucky. On the 6th of January, before receiving orders for this
expedition, I had asked permission of the general commanding the
department to go to see him at St. Louis. My object was to lay this
plan of campaign before him. Now that my views had been confirmed by so
able a general as Smith, I renewed my request to go to St. Louis on what
I deemed important military business. The leave was granted, but not
graciously. I had known General Halleck but very slightly in the old
army, not having met him either at West Point or during the Mexican war.
I was received with so little cordiality that I perhaps stated the
object of my visit with less clearness than I might have done, and I had
not uttered many sentences before I was cut short as if my plan was
preposterous. I returned to Cairo very much crestfallen.

Flag-officer Foote commanded the little fleet of gunboats then in the
neighborhood of Cairo and, though in another branch of the service, was
subject to the command of General Halleck. He and I consulted freely
upon military matters and he agreed with me perfectly as to the
feasibility of the campaign up the Tennessee. Notwithstanding the
rebuff I had received from my immediate chief, I therefore, on the 28th
of January, renewed the suggestion by telegraph that "if permitted, I
could take and hold Fort Henry on the Tennessee." This time I was
backed by Flag-officer Foote, who sent a similar dispatch. On the 29th
I wrote fully in support of the proposition. On the 1st of February I
received full instructions from department headquarters to move upon
Fort Henry. On the 2d the expedition started.

In February, 1862, there were quite a good many steamers laid up at
Cairo for want of employment, the Mississippi River being closed against
navigation below that point. There were also many men in the town whose
occupation had been following the river in various capacities, from
captain down to deck hand But there were not enough of either boats or
men to move at one time the 17,000 men I proposed to take with me up the
Tennessee. I loaded the boats with more than half the force, however,
and sent General McClernand in command. I followed with one of the
later boats and found McClernand had stopped, very properly, nine miles
below Fort Henry. Seven gunboats under Flag-officer Foote had
accompanied the advance. The transports we had with us had to return to
Paducah to bring up a division from there, with General C. F. Smith in

Before sending the boats back I wanted to get the troops as near to the
enemy as I could without coming within range of their guns. There was a
stream emptying into the Tennessee on the east side, apparently at about
long range distance below the fort. On account of the narrow water-shed
separating the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers at that point, the stream
must be insignificant at ordinary stages, but when we were there, in
February, it was a torrent. It would facilitate the investment of Fort
Henry materially if the troops could be landed south of that stream. To
test whether this could be done I boarded the gunboat Essex and
requested Captain Wm. Porter commanding it, to approach the fort to draw
its fire. After we had gone some distance past the mouth of the stream
we drew the fire of the fort, which fell much short of us. In
consequence I had made up my mind to return and bring the troops to the
upper side of the creek, when the enemy opened upon us with a rifled gun
that sent shot far beyond us and beyond the stream. One shot passed
very near where Captain Porter and I were standing, struck the deck near
the stern, penetrated and passed through the cabin and so out into the
river. We immediately turned back, and the troops were debarked below
the mouth of the creek.

When the landing was completed I returned with the transports to Paducah
to hasten up the balance of the troops. I got back on the 5th with the
advance the remainder following as rapidly as the steamers could carry
them. At ten o'clock at night, on the 5th, the whole command was not
yet up. Being anxious to commence operations as soon as possible before
the enemy could reinforce heavily, I issued my orders for an advance at
11 A.M. on the 6th. I felt sure that all the troops would be up by that

Fort Henry occupies a bend in the river which gave the guns in the water
battery a direct fire down the stream. The camp outside the fort was
intrenched, with rifle pits and outworks two miles back on the road to
Donelson and Dover. The garrison of the fort and camp was about 2,800,
with strong reinforcements from Donelson halted some miles out. There
were seventeen heavy guns in the fort. The river was very high, the
banks being overflowed except where the bluffs come to the water's edge.
A portion of the ground on which Fort Henry stood was two feet deep in
water. Below, the water extended into the woods several hundred yards
back from the bank on the east side. On the west bank Fort Heiman stood
on high ground, completely commanding Fort Henry. The distance from
Fort Henry to Donelson is but eleven miles. The two positions were so
important to the enemy, AS HE SAW HIS INTEREST, that it was natural to
suppose that reinforcements would come from every quarter from which
they could be got. Prompt action on our part was imperative.

The plan was for the troops and gunboats to start at the same moment.
The troops were to invest the garrison and the gunboats to attack the
fort at close quarters. General Smith was to land a brigade of his
division on the west bank during the night of the 5th and get it in rear
of Heiman.

At the hour designated the troops and gunboats started. General Smith
found Fort Heiman had been evacuated before his men arrived. The
gunboats soon engaged the water batteries at very close quarters, but
the troops which were to invest Fort Henry were delayed for want of
roads, as well as by the dense forest and the high water in what would
in dry weather have been unimportant beds of streams. This delay made
no difference in the result. On our first appearance Tilghman had sent
his entire command, with the exception of about one hundred men left to
man the guns in the fort, to the outworks on the road to Dover and
Donelson, so as to have them out of range of the guns of our navy; and
before any attack on the 6th he had ordered them to retreat on Donelson.
He stated in his subsequent report that the defence was intended solely
to give his troops time to make their escape.

Tilghman was captured with his staff and ninety men, as well as the
armament of the fort, the ammunition and whatever stores were there.
Our cavalry pursued the retreating column towards Donelson and picked up
two guns and a few stragglers; but the enemy had so much the start, that
the pursuing force did not get in sight of any except the stragglers.

All the gunboats engaged were hit many times. The damage, however,
beyond what could be repaired by a small expenditure of money, was
slight, except to the Essex. A shell penetrated the boiler of that
vessel and exploded it, killing and wounding forty-eight men, nineteen
of whom were soldiers who had been detailed to act with the navy. On
several occasions during the war such details were made when the
complement of men with the navy was insufficient for the duty before
them. After the fall of Fort Henry Captain Phelps, commanding the
iron-clad Carondelet, at my request ascended the Tennessee River and
thoroughly destroyed the bridge of the Memphis and Ohio Railroad.



I informed the department commander of our success at Fort Henry and
that on the 8th I would take Fort Donelson. But the rain continued to
fall so heavily that the roads became impassable for artillery and wagon
trains. Then, too, it would not have been prudent to proceed without
the gunboats. At least it would have been leaving behind a valuable
part of our available force.

On the 7th, the day after the fall of Fort Henry, I took my staff and
the cavalry--a part of one regiment--and made a reconnoissance to within
about a mile of the outer line of works at Donelson. I had known
General Pillow in Mexico, and judged that with any force, no matter how
small, I could march up to within gunshot of any intrenchments he was
given to hold. I said this to the officers of my staff at the time. I
knew that Floyd was in command, but he was no soldier, and I judged that
he would yield to Pillow's pretensions. I met, as I expected, no
opposition in making the reconnoissance and, besides learning the
topography of the country on the way and around Fort Donelson, found
that there were two roads available for marching; one leading to the
village of Dover, the other to Donelson.

Fort Donelson is two miles north, or down the river, from Dover. The
fort, as it stood in 1861, embraced about one hundred acres of land. On
the east it fronted the Cumberland; to the north it faced Hickman's
creek, a small stream which at that time was deep and wide because of
the back-water from the river; on the south was another small stream, or
rather a ravine, opening into the Cumberland. This also was filled with
back-water from the river. The fort stood on high ground, some of it as
much as a hundred feet above the Cumberland. Strong protection to the
heavy guns in the water batteries had been obtained by cutting away
places for them in the bluff. To the west there was a line of rifle
pits some two miles back from the river at the farthest point. This
line ran generally along the crest of high ground, but in one place
crossed a ravine which opens into the river between the village and the
fort. The ground inside and outside of this intrenched line was very
broken and generally wooded. The trees outside of the rifle-pits had
been cut down for a considerable way out, and had been felled so that
their tops lay outwards from the intrenchments. The limbs had been
trimmed and pointed, and thus formed an abatis in front of the greater
part of the line. Outside of this intrenched line, and extending about
half the entire length of it, is a ravine running north and south and
opening into Hickman creek at a point north of the fort. The entire
side of this ravine next to the works was one long abatis.

General Halleck commenced his efforts in all quarters to get
reinforcements to forward to me immediately on my departure from Cairo.
General Hunter sent men freely from Kansas, and a large division under
General Nelson, from Buell's army, was also dispatched. Orders went out
from the War Department to consolidate fragments of companies that were
being recruited in the Western States so as to make full companies, and
to consolidate companies into regiments. General Halleck did not
approve or disapprove of my going to Fort Donelson. He said nothing
whatever to me on the subject. He informed Buell on the 7th that I
would march against Fort Donelson the next day; but on the 10th he
directed me to fortify Fort Henry strongly, particularly to the land
side, saying that he forwarded me intrenching tools for that purpose. I
received this dispatch in front of Fort Donelson.

I was very impatient to get to Fort Donelson because I knew the
importance of the place to the enemy and supposed he would reinforce it
rapidly. I felt that 15,000 men on the 8th would be more effective than
50,000 a month later. I asked Flag-officer Foote, therefore, to order
his gunboats still about Cairo to proceed up the Cumberland River and
not to wait for those gone to Eastport and Florence; but the others got
back in time and we started on the 12th. I had moved McClernand out a
few miles the night before so as to leave the road as free as possible.

Just as we were about to start the first reinforcement reached me on
transports. It was a brigade composed of six full regiments commanded
by Colonel Thayer, of Nebraska. As the gunboats were going around to
Donelson by the Tennessee, Ohio and Cumberland rivers, I directed Thayer
to turn about and go under their convoy.

I started from Fort Henry with 15,000 men, including eight batteries and
part of a regiment of cavalry, and, meeting with no obstruction to
detain us, the advance arrived in front of the enemy by noon. That
afternoon and the next day were spent in taking up ground to make the
investment as complete as possible. General Smith had been directed to
leave a portion of his division behind to guard forts Henry and Heiman.
He left General Lew. Wallace with 2,500 men. With the remainder of his
division he occupied our left, extending to Hickman creek. McClernand
was on the right and covered the roads running south and south-west from
Dover. His right extended to the back-water up the ravine opening into
the Cumberland south of the village. The troops were not intrenched, but
the nature of the ground was such that they were just as well protected
from the fire of the enemy as if rifle-pits had been thrown up. Our
line was generally along the crest of ridges. The artillery was
protected by being sunk in the ground. The men who were not serving the
guns were perfectly covered from fire on taking position a little back
from the crest. The greatest suffering was from want of shelter. It
was midwinter and during the siege we had rain and snow, thawing and
freezing alternately. It would not do to allow camp-fires except far
down the hill out of sight of the enemy, and it would not do to allow
many of the troops to remain there at the same time. In the march over
from Fort Henry numbers of the men had thrown away their blankets and
overcoats. There was therefore much discomfort and absolute suffering.

During the 12th and 13th, and until the arrival of Wallace and Thayer on
the 14th, the National forces, composed of but 15,000 men, without
intrenchments, confronted an intrenched army of 21,000, without conflict
further than what was brought on by ourselves. Only one gunboat had
arrived. There was a little skirmishing each day, brought on by the
movement of our troops in securing commanding positions; but there was
no actual fighting during this time except once, on the 13th, in front
of McClernand's command. That general had undertaken to capture a
battery of the enemy which was annoying his men. Without orders or
authority he sent three regiments to make the assault. The battery was
in the main line of the enemy, which was defended by his whole army
present. Of course the assault was a failure, and of course the loss on
our side was great for the number of men engaged. In this assault
Colonel William Morrison fell badly wounded. Up to this time the
surgeons with the army had no difficulty in finding room in the houses
near our line for all the sick and wounded; but now hospitals were
overcrowded. Owing, however, to the energy and skill of the surgeons the
suffering was not so great as it might have been. The hospital
arrangements at Fort Donelson were as complete as it was possible to
make them, considering the inclemency of the weather and the lack of
tents, in a sparsely settled country where the houses were generally of
but one or two rooms.

On the return of Captain Walke to Fort Henry on the 10th, I had
requested him to take the vessels that had accompanied him on his
expedition up the Tennessee, and get possession of the Cumberland as far
up towards Donelson as possible. He started without delay, taking,
however, only his own gunboat, the Carondelet, towed by the steamer
Alps. Captain Walke arrived a few miles below Donelson on the 12th, a
little after noon. About the time the advance of troops reached a point
within gunshot of the fort on the land side, he engaged the water
batteries at long range. On the 13th I informed him of my arrival the
day before and of the establishment of most of our batteries, requesting
him at the same time to attack again that day so that I might take
advantage of any diversion. The attack was made and many shots fell
within the fort, creating some consternation, as we now know. The
investment on the land side was made as complete as the number of troops
engaged would admit of.

During the night of the 13th Flag-officer Foote arrived with the
iron-clads St. Louis, Louisville and Pittsburg and the wooden gunboats
Tyler and Conestoga, convoying Thayer's brigade. On the morning of the
14th Thayer was landed. Wallace, whom I had ordered over from Fort
Henry, also arrived about the same time. Up to this time he had been
commanding a brigade belonging to the division of General C. F. Smith.
These troops were now restored to the division they belonged to, and
General Lew. Wallace was assigned to the command of a division composed
of the brigade of Colonel Thayer and other reinforcements that arrived
the same day. This new division was assigned to the centre, giving the
two flanking divisions an opportunity to close up and form a stronger

The plan was for the troops to hold the enemy within his lines, while
the gunboats should attack the water batteries at close quarters and
silence his guns if possible. Some of the gunboats were to run the
batteries, get above the fort and above the village of Dover. I had
ordered a reconnoissance made with the view of getting troops to the
river above Dover in case they should be needed there. That position
attained by the gunboats it would have been but a question of time--and
a very short time, too--when the garrison would have been compelled to

By three in the afternoon of the 14th Flag-officer Foote was ready, and
advanced upon the water batteries with his entire fleet. After coming
in range of the batteries of the enemy the advance was slow, but a
constant fire was delivered from every gun that could be brought to bear
upon the fort. I occupied a position on shore from which I could see
the advancing navy. The leading boat got within a very short distance of
the water battery, not further off I think than two hundred yards, and I
soon saw one and then another of them dropping down the river, visibly
disabled. Then the whole fleet followed and the engagement closed for
the day. The gunboat which Flag-officer Foote was on, besides having
been hit about sixty times, several of the shots passing through near
the waterline, had a shot enter the pilot-house which killed the pilot,
carried away the wheel and wounded the flag-officer himself. The
tiller-ropes of another vessel were carried away and she, too, dropped
helplessly back. Two others had their pilot-houses so injured that they
scarcely formed a protection to the men at the wheel.

The enemy had evidently been much demoralized by the assault, but they
were jubilant when they saw the disabled vessels dropping down the river
entirely out of the control of the men on board. Of course I only
witnessed the falling back of our gunboats and felt sad enough at the
time over the repulse. Subsequent reports, now published, show that the
enemy telegraphed a great victory to Richmond. The sun went down on the
night of the 14th of February, 1862, leaving the army confronting Fort
Donelson anything but comforted over the prospects. The weather had
turned intensely cold; the men were without tents and could not keep up
fires where most of them had to stay, and, as previously stated, many
had thrown away their overcoats and blankets. Two of the strongest of
our gunboats had been disabled, presumably beyond the possibility of
rendering any present assistance. I retired this night not knowing but
that I would have to intrench my position, and bring up tents for the
men or build huts under the cover of the hills.

On the morning of the 15th, before it was yet broad day, a messenger
from Flag-officer Foote handed me a note, expressing a desire to see me
on the flag-ship and saying that he had been injured the day before so
much that he could not come himself to me. I at once made my
preparations for starting. I directed my adjutant-general to notify
each of the division commanders of my absence and instruct them to do
nothing to bring on an engagement until they received further orders,
but to hold their positions. From the heavy rains that had fallen for
days and weeks preceding and from the constant use of the roads between
the troops and the landing four to seven miles below, these roads had
become cut up so as to be hardly passable. The intense cold of the
night of the 14th-15th had frozen the ground solid. This made travel on
horseback even slower than through the mud; but I went as fast as the
roads would allow.

When I reached the fleet I found the flag-ship was anchored out in the
stream. A small boat, however, awaited my arrival and I was soon on
board with the flag-officer. He explained to me in short the condition
in which he was left by the engagement of the evening before, and
suggested that I should intrench while he returned to Mound City with
his disabled boats, expressing at the time the belief that he could have
the necessary repairs made and be back in ten days. I saw the absolute
necessity of his gunboats going into hospital and did not know but I
should be forced to the alternative of going through a siege. But the
enemy relieved me from this necessity.

When I left the National line to visit Flag-officer Foote I had no idea
that there would be any engagement on land unless I brought it on
myself. The conditions for battle were much more favorable to us than
they had been for the first two days of the investment. From the 12th
to the 14th we had but 15,000 men of all arms and no gunboats. Now we
had been reinforced by a fleet of six naval vessels, a large division of
troops under General L. Wallace and 2,500 men brought over from Fort
Henry belonging to the division of C. F. Smith. The enemy, however, had
taken the initiative. Just as I landed I met Captain Hillyer of my
staff, white with fear, not for his personal safety, but for the safety
of the National troops. He said the enemy had come out of his lines in
full force and attacked and scattered McClernand's division, which was
in full retreat. The roads, as I have said, were unfit for making fast
time, but I got to my command as soon as possible. The attack had been
made on the National right. I was some four or five miles north of our
left. The line was about three miles long. In reaching the point where
the disaster had occurred I had to pass the divisions of Smith and
Wallace. I saw no sign of excitement on the portion of the line held by
Smith; Wallace was nearer the scene of conflict and had taken part in
it. He had, at an opportune time, sent Thayer's brigade to the support
of McClernand and thereby contributed to hold the enemy within his

I saw everything favorable for us along the line of our left and centre.
When I came to the right appearances were different. The enemy had come
out in full force to cut his way out and make his escape. McClernand's
division had to bear the brunt of the attack from this combined force.
His men had stood up gallantly until the ammunition in their
cartridge-boxes gave out. There was abundance of ammunition near by
lying on the ground in boxes, but at that stage of the war it was not
all of our commanders of regiments, brigades, or even divisions, who had
been educated up to the point of seeing that their men were constantly
supplied with ammunition during an engagement. When the men found
themselves without ammunition they could not stand up against troops who
seemed to have plenty of it. The division broke and a portion fled, but
most of the men, as they were not pursued, only fell back out of range
of the fire of the enemy. It must have been about this time that Thayer
pushed his brigade in between the enemy and those of our troops that
were without ammunition. At all events the enemy fell back within his
intrenchments and was there when I got on the field.

I saw the men standing in knots talking in the most excited manner. No
officer seemed to be giving any directions. The soldiers had their
muskets, but no ammunition, while there were tons of it close at hand.
I heard some of the men say that the enemy had come out with knapsacks,
and haversacks filled with rations. They seemed to think this indicated
a determination on his part to stay out and fight just as long as the
provisions held out. I turned to Colonel J. D. Webster, of my staff,
who was with me, and said: "Some of our men are pretty badly
demoralized, but the enemy must be more so, for he has attempted to
force his way out, but has fallen back: the one who attacks first now
will be victorious and the enemy will have to be in a hurry if he gets
ahead of me." I determined to make the assault at once on our left. It
was clear to my mind that the enemy had started to march out with his
entire force, except a few pickets, and if our attack could be made on
the left before the enemy could redistribute his forces along the line,
we would find but little opposition except from the intervening abatis.
I directed Colonel Webster to ride with me and call out to the men as we
passed: "Fill your cartridge-boxes, quick, and get into line; the enemy
is trying to escape and he must not be permitted to do so." This acted
like a charm. The men only wanted some one to give them a command. We
rode rapidly to Smith's quarters, when I explained the situation to him
and directed him to charge the enemy's works in his front with his whole
division, saying at the same time that he would find nothing but a very
thin line to contend with. The general was off in an incredibly short
time, going in advance himself to keep his men from firing while they
were working their way through the abatis intervening between them and
the enemy. The outer line of rifle-pits was passed, and the night of
the 15th General Smith, with much of his division, bivouacked within the
lines of the enemy. There was now no doubt but that the Confederates
must surrender or be captured the next day.

There seems from subsequent accounts to have been much consternation,
particularly among the officers of high rank, in Dover during the night
of the 15th. General Floyd, the commanding officer, who was a man of
talent enough for any civil position, was no soldier and, possibly, did
not possess the elements of one. He was further unfitted for command,
for the reason that his conscience must have troubled him and made him
afraid. As Secretary of War he had taken a solemn oath to maintain the
Constitution of the United States and to uphold the same against all its
enemies. He had betrayed that trust. As Secretary of War he was
reported through the northern press to have scattered the little army
the country had so that the most of it could be picked up in detail when
secession occurred. About a year before leaving the Cabinet he had
removed arms from northern to southern arsenals. He continued in the
Cabinet of President Buchanan until about the 1st of January, 1861,
while he was working vigilantly for the establishment of a confederacy
made out of United States territory. Well may he have been afraid to
fall into the hands of National troops. He would no doubt have been
tried for misappropriating public property, if not for treason, had he
been captured. General Pillow, next in command, was conceited, and
prided himself much on his services in the Mexican war. He telegraphed
to General Johnston, at Nashville, after our men were within the rebel
rifle-pits, and almost on the eve of his making his escape, that the
Southern troops had had great success all day. Johnston forwarded the
dispatch to Richmond. While the authorities at the capital were reading
it Floyd and Pillow were fugitives.

A council of war was held by the enemy at which all agreed that it would
be impossible to hold out longer. General Buckner, who was third in
rank in the garrison but much the most capable soldier, seems to have
regarded it a duty to hold the fort until the general commanding the
department, A. S. Johnston, should get back to his headquarters at
Nashville. Buckner's report shows, however, that he considered Donelson
lost and that any attempt to hold the place longer would be at the
sacrifice of the command. Being assured that Johnston was already in
Nashville, Buckner too agreed that surrender was the proper thing.
Floyd turned over the command to Pillow, who declined it. It then
devolved upon Buckner, who accepted the responsibility of the position.
Floyd and Pillow took possession of all the river transports at Dover
and before morning both were on their way to Nashville, with the brigade
formerly commanded by Floyd and some other troops, in all about 3,000.
Some marched up the east bank of the Cumberland; others went on the
steamers. During the night Forrest also, with his cavalry and some
other troops about a thousand in all, made their way out, passing
between our right and the river. They had to ford or swim over the
back-water in the little creek just south of Dover.

Before daylight General Smith brought to me the following letter from
General Buckner:


SIR:--In consideration of all the circumstances governing the present
situation of affairs at this station, I propose to the Commanding
Officer of the Federal forces the appointment of Commissioners to agree
upon terms of capitulation of the forces and fort under my command, and
in that view suggest an armistice until 12 o'clock to-day.

I am, sir, very respectfully, Your ob't se'v't, S. B. BUCKNER, Brig.
Gen. C. S. A.

To Brigadier-General U. S. Grant, Com'ding U. S. Forces, Near Fort

To this I responded as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY IN THE FIELD, Camp near Donelson, February 16, 1862.

General S. B. BUCKNER, Confederate Army.

SIR:--Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of
Commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. No
terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.
I propose to move immediately upon your works.

I am, sir, very respectfully, Your ob't se'v't, U. S. GRANT, Brig. Gen.

To this I received the following reply:


To Brig. Gen'l U. S. GRANT, U. S. Army.

SIR:--The distribution of the forces under my command, incident to an
unexpected change of commanders, and the overwhelming force under your
command, compel me, notwithstanding the brilliant success of the
Confederate arms yesterday, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous
terms which you propose.

I am, sir, Your very ob't se'v't, S. B. BUCKNER, Brig. Gen. C. S. A.

General Buckner, as soon as he had dispatched the first of the above
letters, sent word to his different commanders on the line of
rifle-pits, notifying them that he had made a proposition looking to the
surrender of the garrison, and directing them to notify National troops
in their front so that all fighting might be prevented. White flags
were stuck at intervals along the line of rifle-pits, but none over the
fort. As soon as the last letter from Buckner was received I mounted my
horse and rode to Dover. General Wallace, I found, had preceded me an
hour or more. I presume that, seeing white flags exposed in his front,
he rode up to see what they meant and, not being fired upon or halted,
he kept on until he found himself at the headquarters of General

I had been at West Point three years with Buckner and afterwards served
with him in the army, so that we were quite well acquainted. In the
course of our conversation, which was very friendly, he said to me that
if he had been in command I would not have got up to Donelson as easily
as I did. I told him that if he had been in command I should not have
tried in the way I did: I had invested their lines with a smaller force
than they had to defend them, and at the same time had sent a brigade
full 5,000 strong, around by water; I had relied very much upon their
commander to allow me to come safely up to the outside of their works.
I asked General Buckner about what force he had to surrender. He
replied that he could not tell with any degree of accuracy; that all the
sick and weak had been sent to Nashville while we were about Fort Henry;
that Floyd and Pillow had left during the night, taking many men with
them; and that Forrest, and probably others, had also escaped during the
preceding night: the number of casualties he could not tell; but he
said I would not find fewer than 12,000, nor more than 15,000.

He asked permission to send parties outside of the lines to bury his
dead, who had fallen on the 15th when they tried to get out. I gave
directions that his permit to pass our limits should be recognized. I
have no reason to believe that this privilege was abused, but it
familiarized our guards so much with the sight of Confederates passing
to and fro that I have no doubt many got beyond our pickets unobserved
and went on. The most of the men who went in that way no doubt thought
they had had war enough, and left with the intention of remaining out of
the army. Some came to me and asked permission to go, saying that they
were tired of the war and would not be caught in the ranks again, and I
bade them go.

The actual number of Confederates at Fort Donelson can never be given
with entire accuracy. The largest number admitted by any writer on the
Southern side, is by Colonel Preston Johnston. He gives the number at
17,000. But this must be an underestimate. The commissary general of
prisoners reported having issued rations to 14,623 Fort Donelson
prisoners at Cairo, as they passed that point. General Pillow reported
the killed and wounded at 2,000; but he had less opportunity of knowing
the actual numbers than the officers of McClernand's division, for most
of the killed and wounded fell outside their works, in front of that
division, and were buried or cared for by Buckner after the surrender
and when Pillow was a fugitive. It is known that Floyd and Pillow
escaped during the night of the 15th, taking with them not less than
3,000 men. Forrest escaped with about 1,000 and others were leaving
singly and in squads all night. It is probable that the Confederate
force at Donelson, on the 15th of February, 1862, was 21,000 in round

On the day Fort Donelson fell I had 27,000 men to confront the
Confederate lines and guard the road four or five miles to the left,
over which all our supplies had to be drawn on wagons. During the 16th,
after the surrender, additional reinforcements arrived.

During the siege General Sherman had been sent to Smithland, at the
mouth of the Cumberland River, to forward reinforcements and supplies to
me. At that time he was my senior in rank and there was no authority of
law to assign a junior to command a senior of the same grade. But every
boat that came up with supplies or reinforcements brought a note of
encouragement from Sherman, asking me to call upon him for any
assistance he could render and saying that if he could be of service at
the front I might send for him and he would waive rank.



The news of the fall of Fort Donelson caused great delight all over the
North. At the South, particularly in Richmond, the effect was
correspondingly depressing. I was promptly promoted to the grade of
Major-General of Volunteers, and confirmed by the Senate. All three of
my division commanders were promoted to the same grade and the colonels
who commanded brigades were made brigadier-generals in the volunteer
service. My chief, who was in St. Louis, telegraphed his
congratulations to General Hunter in Kansas for the services he had
rendered in securing the fall of Fort Donelson by sending reinforcements
so rapidly. To Washington he telegraphed that the victory was due to
General C. F. Smith; "promote him," he said, "and the whole country will
applaud." On the 19th there was published at St. Louis a formal order
thanking Flag-officer Foote and myself, and the forces under our
command, for the victories on the Tennessee and the Cumberland. I
received no other recognition whatever from General Halleck. But
General Cullum, his chief of staff, who was at Cairo, wrote me a warm
congratulatory letter on his own behalf. I approved of General Smith's
promotion highly, as I did all the promotions that were made.

My opinion was and still is that immediately after the fall of Fort
Donelson the way was opened to the National forces all over the
South-west without much resistance. If one general who would have taken
the responsibility had been in command of all the troops west of the
Alleghanies, he could have marched to Chattanooga, Corinth, Memphis and
Vicksburg with the troops we then had, and as volunteering was going on
rapidly over the North there would soon have been force enough at all
these centres to operate offensively against any body of the enemy that
might be found near them. Rapid movements and the acquisition of
rebellious territory would have promoted volunteering, so that
reinforcements could have been had as fast as transportation could have
been obtained to carry them to their destination. On the other hand
there were tens of thousands of strong able-bodied young men still at
their homes in the South-western States, who had not gone into the
Confederate army in February, 1862, and who had no particular desire to
go. If our lines had been extended to protect their homes, many of them
never would have gone. Providence ruled differently. Time was given
the enemy to collect armies and fortify his new positions; and twice
afterwards he came near forcing his north-western front up to the Ohio

I promptly informed the department commander of our success at Fort
Donelson and that the way was open now to Clarksville and Nashville; and
that unless I received orders to the contrary I should take Clarksville
on the 21st and Nashville about the 1st of March. Both these places are
on the Cumberland River above Fort Donelson. As I heard nothing from
headquarters on the subject, General C. F. Smith was sent to Clarksville
at the time designated and found the place evacuated. The capture of
forts Henry and Donelson had broken the line the enemy had taken from
Columbus to Bowling Green, and it was known that he was falling back
from the eastern point of this line and that Buell was following, or at
least advancing. I should have sent troops to Nashville at the time I
sent to Clarksville, but my transportation was limited and there were
many prisoners to be forwarded north.

None of the reinforcements from Buell's army arrived until the 24th of
February. Then General Nelson came up, with orders to report to me with
two brigades, he having sent one brigade to Cairo. I knew General Buell
was advancing on Nashville from the north, and I was advised by scouts
that the rebels were leaving that place, and trying to get out all the
supplies they could. Nashville was, at that time, one of the best
provisioned posts in the South. I had no use for reinforcements now,
and thinking Buell would like to have his troops again, I ordered Nelson
to proceed to Nashville without debarking at Fort Donelson. I sent a
gunboat also as a convoy. The Cumberland River was very high at the
time; the railroad bridge at Nashville had been burned, and all river
craft had been destroyed, or would be before the enemy left. Nashville
is on the west bank of the Cumberland, and Buell was approaching from
the east. I thought the steamers carrying Nelson's division would be
useful in ferrying the balance of Buell's forces across. I ordered
Nelson to put himself in communication with Buell as soon as possible,
and if he found him more than two days off from Nashville to return
below the city and await orders. Buell, however, had already arrived in
person at Edgefield, opposite Nashville, and Mitchell's division of his
command reached there the same day. Nelson immediately took possession
of the city.

After Nelson had gone and before I had learned of Buell's arrival, I
sent word to department headquarters that I should go to Nashville
myself on the 28th if I received no orders to the contrary. Hearing
nothing, I went as I had informed my superior officer I would do. On
arriving at Clarksville I saw a fleet of steamers at the shore--the same
that had taken Nelson's division--and troops going aboard. I landed and
called on the commanding officer, General C. F. Smith. As soon as he
saw me he showed an order he had just received from Buell in these

NASHVILLE, February 25, 1862.

GENERAL C. F. SMITH, Commanding U. S. Forces, Clarksville.

GENERAL:--The landing of a portion of our troops, contrary to my
intentions, on the south side of the river has compelled me to hold this
side at every hazard. If the enemy should assume the offensive, and I
am assured by reliable persons that in view of my position such is his
intention, my force present is altogether inadequate, consisting of only
15,000 men. I have to request you, therefore, to come forward with all
the available force under your command. So important do I consider the
occasion that I think it necessary to give this communication all the
force of orders, and I send four boats, the Diana, Woodford, John Rain,
and Autocrat, to bring you up. In five or six days my force will
probably be sufficient to relieve you.

Very respectfully, your ob't srv't, D. C. BUELL, Brigadier-General

P. S.--The steamers will leave here at 12 o'clock to-night.

General Smith said this order was nonsense. But I told him it was
better to obey it. The General replied, "of course I must obey," and
said his men were embarking as fast as they could. I went on up to
Nashville and inspected the position taken by Nelson's troops. I did
not see Buell during the day, and wrote him a note saying that I had
been in Nashville since early morning and had hoped to meet him. On my
return to the boat we met. His troops were still east of the river, and
the steamers that had carried Nelson's division up were mostly at
Clarksville to bring Smith's division. I said to General Buell my
information was that the enemy was retreating as fast as possible.
General Buell said there was fighting going on then only ten or twelve
miles away. I said: "Quite probably; Nashville contained valuable
stores of arms, ammunition and provisions, and the enemy is probably
trying to carry away all he can. The fighting is doubtless with the
rear-guard who are trying to protect the trains they are getting away
with." Buell spoke very positively of the danger Nashville was in of an
attack from the enemy. I said, in the absence of positive information,
I believed my information was correct. He responded that he "knew."
"Well," I said, "I do not know; but as I came by Clarksville General
Smith's troops were embarking to join you."

Smith's troops were returned the same day. The enemy were trying to get
away from Nashville and not to return to it.

At this time General Albert Sidney Johnston commanded all the
Confederate troops west of the Alleghany Mountains, with the exception
of those in the extreme south. On the National side the forces
confronting him were divided into, at first three, then four separate
departments. Johnston had greatly the advantage in having supreme
command over all troops that could possibly be brought to bear upon one
point, while the forces similarly situated on the National side, divided
into independent commands, could not be brought into harmonious action
except by orders from Washington.

At the beginning of 1862 Johnston's troops east of the Mississippi
occupied a line extending from Columbus, on his left, to Mill Springs,
on his right. As we have seen, Columbus, both banks of the Tennessee
River, the west bank of the Cumberland and Bowling Green, all were
strongly fortified. Mill Springs was intrenched. The National troops
occupied no territory south of the Ohio, except three small garrisons
along its bank and a force thrown out from Louisville to confront that
at Bowling Green. Johnston's strength was no doubt numerically inferior
to that of the National troops; but this was compensated for by the
advantage of being sole commander of all the Confederate forces at the
West, and of operating in a country where his friends would take care of
his rear without any detail of soldiers. But when General George H.
Thomas moved upon the enemy at Mill Springs and totally routed him,
inflicting a loss of some 300 killed and wounded, and forts Henry and
Heiman fell into the hands of the National forces, with their armaments
and about 100 prisoners, those losses seemed to dishearten the
Confederate commander so much that he immediately commenced a retreat
from Bowling Green on Nashville. He reached this latter place on the
14th of February, while Donelson was still besieged. Buell followed
with a portion of the Army of the Ohio, but he had to march and did not
reach the east bank of the Cumberland opposite Nashville until the 24th
of the month, and then with only one division of his army.

The bridge at Nashville had been destroyed and all boats removed or
disabled, so that a small garrison could have held the place against any
National troops that could have been brought against it within ten days
after the arrival of the force from Bowling Green. Johnston seemed to
lie quietly at Nashville to await the result at Fort Donelson, on which
he had staked the possession of most of the territory embraced in the
States of Kentucky and Tennessee. It is true, the two generals senior
in rank at Fort Donelson were sending him encouraging dispatches, even
claiming great Confederate victories up to the night of the 16th when
they must have been preparing for their individual escape. Johnston made
a fatal mistake in intrusting so important a command to Floyd, who he
must have known was no soldier even if he possessed the elements of one.
Pillow's presence as second was also a mistake. If these officers had
been forced upon him and designated for that particular command, then he
should have left Nashville with a small garrison under a trusty officer,
and with the remainder of his force gone to Donelson himself. If he had
been captured the result could not have been worse than it was.

Johnston's heart failed him upon the first advance of National troops.
He wrote to Richmond on the 8th of February, "I think the gunboats of
the enemy will probably take Fort Donelson without the necessity of
employing their land force in cooperation." After the fall of that
place he abandoned Nashville and Chattanooga without an effort to save
either, and fell back into northern Mississippi, where, six weeks later,
he was destined to end his career.

From the time of leaving Cairo I was singularly unfortunate in not
receiving dispatches from General Halleck. The order of the 10th of
February directing me to fortify Fort Henry strongly, particularly to
the land side, and saying that intrenching tools had been sent for that
purpose, reached me after Donelson was invested. I received nothing
direct which indicated that the department commander knew we were in
possession of Donelson. I was reporting regularly to the chief of
staff, who had been sent to Cairo, soon after the troops left there, to
receive all reports from the front and to telegraph the substance to the
St. Louis headquarters. Cairo was at the southern end of the telegraph
wire. Another line was started at once from Cairo to Paducah and
Smithland, at the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland respectively.
My dispatches were all sent to Cairo by boat, but many of those
addressed to me were sent to the operator at the end of the advancing
wire and he failed to forward them. This operator afterwards proved to
be a rebel; he deserted his post after a short time and went south
taking his dispatches with him. A telegram from General McClellan to me
of February 16th, the day of the surrender, directing me to report in
full the situation, was not received at my headquarters until the 3d of

On the 2d of March I received orders dated March 1st to move my command
back to Fort Henry, leaving only a small garrison at Donelson. From
Fort Henry expeditions were to be sent against Eastport, Mississippi,
and Paris, Tennessee. We started from Donelson on the 4th, and the same
day I was back on the Tennessee River. On March 4th I also received the
following dispatch from General Halleck:

MAJ.-GEN. U. S. GRANT, Fort Henry:

You will place Maj.-Gen. C. F. Smith in command of expedition, and
remain yourself at Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders to report
strength and positions of your command?

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

I was surprised. This was the first intimation I had received that
General Halleck had called for information as to the strength of my
command. On the 6th he wrote to me again. "Your going to Nashville
without authority, and when your presence with your troops was of the
utmost importance, was a matter of very serious complaint at Washington,
so much so that I was advised to arrest you on your return." This was
the first I knew of his objecting to my going to Nashville. That place
was not beyond the limits of my command, which, it had been expressly
declared in orders, were "not defined." Nashville is west of the
Cumberland River, and I had sent troops that had reported to me for duty
to occupy the place. I turned over the command as directed and then
replied to General Halleck courteously, but asked to be relieved from
further duty under him.

Later I learned that General Halleck had been calling lustily for more
troops, promising that he would do something important if he could only
be sufficiently reinforced. McClellan asked him what force he then had.
Halleck telegraphed me to supply the information so far as my command
was concerned, but I received none of his dispatches. At last Halleck
reported to Washington that he had repeatedly ordered me to give the
strength of my force, but could get nothing out of me; that I had gone
to Nashville, beyond the limits of my command, without his authority,
and that my army was more demoralized by victory than the army at Bull
Run had been by defeat. General McClellan, on this information, ordered
that I should be relieved from duty and that an investigation should be
made into any charges against me. He even authorized my arrest. Thus
in less than two weeks after the victory at Donelson, the two leading
generals in the army were in correspondence as to what disposition
should be made of me, and in less than three weeks I was virtually in
arrest and without a command.

On the 13th of March I was restored to command, and on the 17th Halleck
sent me a copy of an order from the War Department which stated that
accounts of my misbehavior had reached Washington and directed him to
investigate and report the facts. He forwarded also a copy of a
detailed dispatch from himself to Washington entirely exonerating me;
but he did not inform me that it was his own reports that had created
all the trouble. On the contrary, he wrote to me, "Instead of relieving
you, I wish you, as soon as your new army is in the field, to assume
immediate command, and lead it to new victories." In consequence I felt
very grateful to him, and supposed it was his interposition that had set
me right with the government. I never knew the truth until General
Badeau unearthed the facts in his researches for his history of my

General Halleck unquestionably deemed General C. F. Smith a much fitter
officer for the command of all the forces in the military district than
I was, and, to render him available for such command, desired his
promotion to antedate mine and those of the other division commanders.
It is probable that the general opinion was that Smith's long services
in the army and distinguished deeds rendered him the more proper person
for such command. Indeed I was rather inclined to this opinion myself
at that time, and would have served as faithfully under Smith as he had
done under me. But this did not justify the dispatches which General
Halleck sent to Washington, or his subsequent concealment of them from
me when pretending to explain the action of my superiors.

On receipt of the order restoring me to command I proceeded to Savannah
on the Tennessee, to which point my troops had advanced. General Smith
was delighted to see me and was unhesitating in his denunciation of the
treatment I had received. He was on a sick bed at the time, from which
he never came away alive. His death was a severe loss to our western
army. His personal courage was unquestioned, his judgment and
professional acquirements were unsurpassed, and he had the confidence
of those he commanded as well as of those over him.



When I reassumed command on the 17th of March I found the army divided,
about half being on the east bank of the Tennessee at Savannah, while
one division was at Crump's landing on the west bank about four miles
higher up, and the remainder at Pittsburg landing, five miles above
Crump's. The enemy was in force at Corinth, the junction of the two
most important railroads in the Mississippi valley--one connecting
Memphis and the Mississippi River with the East, and the other leading
south to all the cotton states. Still another railroad connects Corinth
with Jackson, in west Tennessee. If we obtained possession of Corinth
the enemy would have no railroad for the transportation of armies or
supplies until that running east from Vicksburg was reached. It was the
great strategic position at the West between the Tennessee and the
Mississippi rivers and between Nashville and Vicksburg.

I at once put all the troops at Savannah in motion for Pittsburg
landing, knowing that the enemy was fortifying at Corinth and collecting
an army there under Johnston. It was my expectation to march against
that army as soon as Buell, who had been ordered to reinforce me with
the Army of the Ohio, should arrive; and the west bank of the river was
the place to start from. Pittsburg is only about twenty miles from
Corinth, and Hamburg landing, four miles further up the river, is a mile
or two nearer. I had not been in command long before I selected Hamburg
as the place to put the Army of the Ohio when it arrived. The roads
from Pittsburg and Hamburg to Corinth converge some eight miles out.
This disposition of the troops would have given additional roads to
march over when the advance commenced, within supporting distance of
each other.

Before I arrived at Savannah, Sherman, who had joined the Army of the
Tennessee and been placed in command of a division, had made an
expedition on steamers convoyed by gunboats to the neighborhood of
Eastport, thirty miles south, for the purpose of destroying the railroad
east of Corinth. The rains had been so heavy for some time before that
the low-lands had become impassable swamps. Sherman debarked his troops
and started out to accomplish the object of the expedition; but the
river was rising so rapidly that the back-water up the small tributaries
threatened to cut off the possibility of getting back to the boats, and
the expedition had to return without reaching the railroad. The guns
had to be hauled by hand through the water to get back to the boats.

On the 17th of March the army on the Tennessee River consisted of five
divisions, commanded respectively by Generals C. F. Smith, McClernand,
L. Wallace, Hurlbut and Sherman. General W. H. L. Wallace was
temporarily in command of Smith's division, General Smith, as I have
said, being confined to his bed. Reinforcements were arriving daily and
as they came up they were organized, first into brigades, then into a
division, and the command given to General Prentiss, who had been
ordered to report to me. General Buell was on his way from Nashville
with 40,000 veterans. On the 19th of March he was at Columbia,
Tennessee, eighty-five miles from Pittsburg. When all reinforcements
should have arrived I expected to take the initiative by marching on
Corinth, and had no expectation of needing fortifications, though this
subject was taken into consideration. McPherson, my only military
engineer, was directed to lay out a line to intrench. He did so, but
reported that it would have to be made in rear of the line of encampment
as it then ran. The new line, while it would be nearer the river, was
yet too far away from the Tennessee, or even from the creeks, to be
easily supplied with water, and in case of attack these creeks would be
in the hands of the enemy. The fact is, I regarded the campaign we were
engaged in as an offensive one and had no idea that the enemy would
leave strong intrenchments to take the initiative when he knew he would
be attacked where he was if he remained. This view, however, did not
prevent every precaution being taken and every effort made to keep
advised of all movements of the enemy.

Johnston's cavalry meanwhile had been well out towards our front, and
occasional encounters occurred between it and our outposts. On the 1st
of April this cavalry became bold and approached our lines, showing that
an advance of some kind was contemplated. On the 2d Johnston left
Corinth in force to attack my army. On the 4th his cavalry dashed down
and captured a small picket guard of six or seven men, stationed some
five miles out from Pittsburg on the Corinth road. Colonel Buckland
sent relief to the guard at once and soon followed in person with an
entire regiment, and General Sherman followed Buckland taking the
remainder of a brigade. The pursuit was kept up for some three miles
beyond the point where the picket guard had been captured, and after
nightfall Sherman returned to camp and reported to me by letter what had

At this time a large body of the enemy was hovering to the west of us,
along the line of the Mobile and Ohio railroad. My apprehension was
much greater for the safety of Crump's landing than it was for
Pittsburg. I had no apprehension that the enemy could really capture
either place. But I feared it was possible that he might make a rapid
dash upon Crump's and destroy our transports and stores, most of which
were kept at that point, and then retreat before Wallace could be
reinforced. Lew. Wallace's position I regarded as so well chosen that
he was not removed.

At this time I generally spent the day at Pittsburg and returned to
Savannah in the evening. I was intending to remove my headquarters to
Pittsburg, but Buell was expected daily and would come in at Savannah.
I remained at this point, therefore, a few days longer than I otherwise
should have done, in order to meet him on his arrival. The skirmishing
in our front, however, had been so continuous from about the 3d of April
that I did not leave Pittsburg each night until an hour when I felt
there would be no further danger before the morning.

On Friday the 4th, the day of Buckland's advance, I was very much
injured by my horse falling with me, and on me, while I was trying to
get to the front where firing had been heard. The night was one of
impenetrable darkness, with rain pouring down in torrents; nothing was
visible to the eye except as revealed by the frequent flashes of
lightning. Under these circumstances I had to trust to the horse,
without guidance, to keep the road. I had not gone far, however, when I
met General W. H. L. Wallace and Colonel (afterwards General) McPherson
coming from the direction of the front. They said all was quiet so far
as the enemy was concerned. On the way back to the boat my horse's feet
slipped from under him, and he fell with my leg under his body. The
extreme softness of the ground, from the excessive rains of the few
preceding days, no doubt saved me from a severe injury and protracted
lameness. As it was, my ankle was very much injured, so much so that my
boot had to be cut off. For two or three days after I was unable to
walk except with crutches.

On the 5th General Nelson, with a division of Buell's army, arrived at
Savannah and I ordered him to move up the east bank of the river, to be
in a position where he could be ferried over to Crump's landing or
Pittsburg as occasion required. I had learned that General Buell
himself would be at Savannah the next day, and desired to meet me on his
arrival. Affairs at Pittsburg landing had been such for several days
that I did not want to be away during the day. I determined, therefore,
to take a very early breakfast and ride out to meet Buell, and thus save
time. He had arrived on the evening of the 5th, but had not advised me
of the fact and I was not aware of it until some time after. While I
was at breakfast, however, heavy firing was heard in the direction of
Pittsburg landing, and I hastened there, sending a hurried note to Buell
informing him of the reason why I could not meet him at Savannah. On
the way up the river I directed the dispatch-boat to run in close to
Crump's landing, so that I could communicate with General Lew. Wallace.
I found him waiting on a boat apparently expecting to see me, and I
directed him to get his troops in line ready to execute any orders he
might receive. He replied that his troops were already under arms and
prepared to move.

Up to that time I had felt by no means certain that Crump's landing
might not be the point of attack. On reaching the front, however, about
eight A.M., I found that the attack on Pittsburg was unmistakable, and
that nothing more than a small guard, to protect our transports and
stores, was needed at Crump's. Captain Baxter, a quartermaster on my
staff, was accordingly directed to go back and order General Wallace to
march immediately to Pittsburg by the road nearest the river. Captain
Baxter made a memorandum of this order. About one P.M., not hearing
from Wallace and being much in need of reinforcements, I sent two more
of my staff, Colonel McPherson and Captain Rowley, to bring him up with
his division. They reported finding him marching towards Purdy, Bethel,
or some point west from the river, and farther from Pittsburg by several
miles than when he started. The road from his first position to
Pittsburg landing was direct and near the river. Between the two points
a bridge had been built across Snake Creek by our troops, at which
Wallace's command had assisted, expressly to enable the troops at the
two places to support each other in case of need. Wallace did not
arrive in time to take part in the first day's fight. General Wallace
has since claimed that the order delivered to him by Captain Baxter was
simply to join the right of the army, and that the road over which he
marched would have taken him to the road from Pittsburg to Purdy where
it crosses Owl Creek on the right of Sherman; but this is not where I
had ordered him nor where I wanted him to go.

I never could see and do not now see why any order was necessary further
than to direct him to come to Pittsburg landing, without specifying by
what route. His was one of three veteran divisions that had been in
battle, and its absence was severely felt. Later in the war General
Wallace would not have made the mistake that he committed on the 6th of
April, 1862. I presume his idea was that by taking the route he did he
would be able to come around on the flank or rear of the enemy, and thus
perform an act of heroism that would redound to the credit of his
command, as well as to the benefit of his country.

Some two or three miles from Pittsburg landing was a log meeting-house
called Shiloh. It stood on the ridge which divides the waters of Snake
and Lick creeks, the former emptying into the Tennessee just north of
Pittsburg landing, and the latter south. This point was the key to our
position and was held by Sherman. His division was at that time wholly
raw, no part of it ever having been in an engagement; but I thought this
deficiency was more than made up by the superiority of the commander.
McClernand was on Sherman's left, with troops that had been engaged at
forts Henry and Donelson and were therefore veterans so far as western
troops had become such at that stage of the war. Next to McClernand
came Prentiss with a raw division, and on the extreme left, Stuart with
one brigade of Sherman's division. Hurlbut was in rear of Prentiss,
massed, and in reserve at the time of the onset. The division of
General C. F. Smith was on the right, also in reserve. General Smith
was still sick in bed at Savannah, but within hearing of our guns. His
services would no doubt have been of inestimable value had his health
permitted his presence. The command of his division devolved upon
Brigadier-General W. H. L. Wallace, a most estimable and able officer; a
veteran too, for he had served a year in the Mexican war and had been
with his command at Henry and Donelson. Wallace was mortally wounded in
the first day's engagement, and with the change of commanders thus
necessarily effected in the heat of battle the efficiency of his
division was much weakened.

The position of our troops made a continuous line from Lick Creek on the
left to Owl Creek, a branch of Snake Creek, on the right, facing nearly
south and possibly a little west. The water in all these streams was
very high at the time and contributed to protect our flanks. The enemy
was compelled, therefore, to attack directly in front. This he did with
great vigor, inflicting heavy losses on the National side, but suffering
much heavier on his own.

The Confederate assaults were made with such a disregard of losses on
their own side that our line of tents soon fell into their hands. The
ground on which the battle was fought was undulating, heavily timbered
with scattered clearings, the woods giving some protection to the troops
on both sides. There was also considerable underbrush. A number of
attempts were made by the enemy to turn our right flank, where Sherman
was posted, but every effort was repulsed with heavy loss. But the
front attack was kept up so vigorously that, to prevent the success of
these attempts to get on our flanks, the National troops were compelled,
several times, to take positions to the rear nearer Pittsburg landing.
When the firing ceased at night the National line was all of a mile in
rear of the position it had occupied in the morning.

In one of the backward moves, on the 6th, the division commanded by
General Prentiss did not fall back with the others. This left his
flanks exposed and enabled the enemy to capture him with about 2,200 of
his officers and men. General Badeau gives four o'clock of the 6th as
about the time this capture took place. He may be right as to the time,
but my recollection is that the hour was later. General Prentiss
himself gave the hour as half-past five. I was with him, as I was with
each of the division commanders that day, several times, and my
recollection is that the last time I was with him was about half-past
four, when his division was standing up firmly and the General was as
cool as if expecting victory. But no matter whether it was four or
later, the story that he and his command were surprised and captured in
their camps is without any foundation whatever. If it had been true, as
currently reported at the time and yet believed by thousands of people,
that Prentiss and his division had been captured in their beds, there
would not have been an all-day struggle, with the loss of thousands
killed and wounded on the Confederate side.

With the single exception of a few minutes after the capture of
Prentiss, a continuous and unbroken line was maintained all day from
Snake Creek or its tributaries on the right to Lick Creek or the
Tennessee on the left above Pittsburg.

There was no hour during the day when there was not heavy firing and
generally hard fighting at some point on the line, but seldom at all
points at the same time. It was a case of Southern dash against
Northern pluck and endurance. Three of the five divisions engaged on
Sunday were entirely raw, and many of the men had only received their
arms on the way from their States to the field. Many of them had
arrived but a day or two before and were hardly able to load their
muskets according to the manual. Their officers were equally ignorant
of their duties. Under these circumstances it is not astonishing that
many of the regiments broke at the first fire. In two cases, as I now
remember, colonels led their regiments from the field on first hearing
the whistle of the enemy's bullets. In these cases the colonels were
constitutional cowards, unfit for any military position; but not so the
officers and men led out of danger by them. Better troops never went
upon a battle-field than many of these, officers and men, afterwards
proved themselves to be, who fled panic stricken at the first whistle of
bullets and shell at Shiloh.

During the whole of Sunday I was continuously engaged in passing from
one part of the field to another, giving directions to division
commanders. In thus moving along the line, however, I never deemed it
important to stay long with Sherman. Although his troops were then
under fire for the first time, their commander, by his constant presence
with them, inspired a confidence in officers and men that enabled them
to render services on that bloody battle-field worthy of the best of
veterans. McClernand was next to Sherman, and the hardest fighting was
in front of these two divisions. McClernand told me on that day, the
6th, that he profited much by having so able a commander supporting him.
A casualty to Sherman that would have taken him from the field that day
would have been a sad one for the troops engaged at Shiloh. And how
near we came to this! On the 6th Sherman was shot twice, once in the
hand, once in the shoulder, the ball cutting his coat and making a
slight wound, and a third ball passed through his hat. In addition to
this he had several horses shot during the day.

The nature of this battle was such that cavalry could not be used in
front; I therefore formed ours into line in rear, to stop stragglers--of
whom there were many. When there would be enough of them to make a
show, and after they had recovered from their fright, they would be sent
to reinforce some part of the line which needed support, without regard
to their companies, regiments or brigades.

On one occasion during the day I rode back as far as the river and met
General Buell, who had just arrived; I do not remember the hour, but at
that time there probably were as many as four or five thousand
stragglers lying under cover of the river bluff, panic-stricken, most of
whom would have been shot where they lay, without resistance, before
they would have taken muskets and marched to the front to protect
themselves. This meeting between General Buell and myself was on the
dispatch-boat used to run between the landing and Savannah. It was
brief, and related specially to his getting his troops over the river.
As we left the boat together, Buell's attention was attracted by the men
lying under cover of the river bank. I saw him berating them and trying
to shame them into joining their regiments. He even threatened them
with shells from the gunboats near by. But it was all to no effect.
Most of these men afterward proved themselves as gallant as any of those
who saved the battle from which they had deserted. I have no doubt that
this sight impressed General Buell with the idea that a line of retreat
would be a good thing just then. If he had come in by the front instead
of through the stragglers in the rear, he would have thought and felt
differently. Could he have come through the Confederate rear, he would
have witnessed there a scene similar to that at our own. The distant
rear of an army engaged in battle is not the best place from which to
judge correctly what is going on in front. Later in the war, while
occupying the country between the Tennessee and the Mississippi, I
learned that the panic in the Confederate lines had not differed much
from that within our own. Some of the country people estimated the
stragglers from Johnston's army as high as 20,000. Of course this was
an exaggeration.

The situation at the close of Sunday was as follows: along the top of
the bluff just south of the log-house which stood at Pittsburg landing,
Colonel J. D. Webster, of my staff, had arranged twenty or more pieces
of artillery facing south or up the river. This line of artillery was
on the crest of a hill overlooking a deep ravine opening into the
Tennessee. Hurlbut with his division intact was on the right of this
artillery, extending west and possibly a little north. McClernand came
next in the general line, looking more to the west. His division was
complete in its organization and ready for any duty. Sherman came next,
his right extending to Snake Creek. His command, like the other two, was
complete in its organization and ready, like its chief, for any service
it might be called upon to render. All three divisions were, as a
matter of course, more or less shattered and depleted in numbers from
the terrible battle of the day. The division of W. H. L. Wallace, as
much from the disorder arising from changes of division and brigade
commanders, under heavy fire, as from any other cause, had lost its
organization and did not occupy a place in the line as a division.
Prentiss' command was gone as a division, many of its members having
been killed, wounded or captured, but it had rendered valiant services
before its final dispersal, and had contributed a good share to the
defence of Shiloh.

The right of my line rested near the bank of Snake Creek, a short
distance above the bridge which had been built by the troops for the
purpose of connecting Crump's landing and Pittsburg landing. Sherman
had posted some troops in a log-house and out-buildings which overlooked
both the bridge over which Wallace was expected and the creek above that
point. In this last position Sherman was frequently attacked before
night, but held the point until he voluntarily abandoned it to advance
in order to make room for Lew. Wallace, who came up after dark.

There was, as I have said, a deep ravine in front of our left. The
Tennessee River was very high and there was water to a considerable
depth in the ravine. Here the enemy made a last desperate effort to
turn our flank, but was repelled. The gunboats Tyler and Lexington,
Gwin and Shirk commanding, with the artillery under Webster, aided the
army and effectually checked their further progress. Before any of
Buell's troops had reached the west bank of the Tennessee, firing had
almost entirely ceased; anything like an attempt on the part of the
enemy to advance had absolutely ceased. There was some artillery firing
from an unseen enemy, some of his shells passing beyond us; but I do not
remember that there was the whistle of a single musket-ball heard. As
his troops arrived in the dusk General Buell marched several of his
regiments part way down the face of the hill where they fired briskly
for some minutes, but I do not think a single man engaged in this firing
received an injury. The attack had spent its force.

General Lew. Wallace, with 5,000 effective men, arrived after firing had
ceased for the day, and was placed on the right. Thus night came,
Wallace came, and the advance of Nelson's division came; but none
--unless night--in time to be of material service to the gallant men who
saved Shiloh on that first day against large odds. Buell's loss on the
6th of April was two men killed and one wounded, all members of the 36th
Indiana infantry. The Army of the Tennessee lost on that day at least
7,000 men. The presence of two or three regiments of Buell's army on
the west bank before firing ceased had not the slightest effect in
preventing the capture of Pittsburg landing.

So confident was I before firing had ceased on the 6th that the next day
would bring victory to our arms if we could only take the initiative,
that I visited each division commander in person before any
reinforcements had reached the field. I directed them to throw out
heavy lines of skirmishers in the morning as soon as they could see, and
push them forward until they found the enemy, following with their
entire divisions in supporting distance, and to engage the enemy as soon
as found. To Sherman I told the story of the assault at Fort Donelson,
and said that the same tactics would win at Shiloh. Victory was assured
when Wallace arrived, even if there had been no other support. I was
glad, however, to see the reinforcements of Buell and credit them with
doing all there was for them to do.

During the night of the 6th the remainder of Nelson's division, Buell's
army crossed the river and were ready to advance in the morning, forming
the left wing. Two other divisions, Crittenden's and McCook's, came up
the river from Savannah in the transports and were on the west bank
early on the 7th. Buell commanded them in person. My command was thus
nearly doubled in numbers and efficiency.

During the night rain fell in torrents and our troops were exposed to
the storm without shelter. I made my headquarters under a tree a few
hundred yards back from the river bank. My ankle was so much swollen
from the fall of my horse the Friday night preceding, and the bruise was
so painful, that I could get no rest.

The drenching rain would have precluded the possibility of sleep without
this additional cause. Some time after midnight, growing restive under
the storm and the continuous pain, I moved back to the log-house under
the bank. This had been taken as a hospital, and all night wounded men
were being brought in, their wounds dressed, a leg or an arm amputated
as the case might require, and everything being done to save life or
alleviate suffering. The sight was more unendurable than encountering
the enemy's fire, and I returned to my tree in the rain.

The advance on the morning of the 7th developed the enemy in the camps
occupied by our troops before the battle began, more than a mile back
from the most advanced position of the Confederates on the day before.
It is known now that they had not yet learned of the arrival of Buell's
command. Possibly they fell back so far to get the shelter of our tents
during the rain, and also to get away from the shells that were dropped
upon them by the gunboats every fifteen minutes during the night.

The position of the Union troops on the morning of the 7th was as
follows: General Lew. Wallace on the right; Sherman on his left; then
McClernand and then Hurlbut. Nelson, of Buell's army, was on our
extreme left, next to the river.

Crittenden was next in line after Nelson and on his right, McCook
followed and formed the extreme right of Buell's command. My old
command thus formed the right wing, while the troops directly under
Buell constituted the left wing of the army. These relative positions
were retained during the entire day, or until the enemy was driven from
the field.

In a very short time the battle became general all along the line. This
day everything was favorable to the Union side. We had now become the
attacking party. The enemy was driven back all day, as we had been the
day before, until finally he beat a precipitate retreat. The last point
held by him was near the road leading from the landing to Corinth, on
the left of Sherman and right of McClernand. About three o'clock, being
near that point and seeing that the enemy was giving way everywhere
else, I gathered up a couple of regiments, or parts of regiments, from
troops near by, formed them in line of battle and marched them forward,
going in front myself to prevent premature or long-range firing. At
this point there was a clearing between us and the enemy favorable for
charging, although exposed. I knew the enemy were ready to break and
only wanted a little encouragement from us to go quickly and join their
friends who had started earlier. After marching to within musket-range
I stopped and let the troops pass. The command, CHARGE, was given, and
was executed with loud cheers and with a run; when the last of the enemy
broke. (*7)



During this second day of the battle I had been moving from right to
left and back, to see for myself the progress made. In the early part
of the afternoon, while riding with Colonel McPherson and Major Hawkins,
then my chief commissary, we got beyond the left of our troops. We were
moving along the northern edge of a clearing, very leisurely, toward the
river above the landing. There did not appear to be an enemy to our
right, until suddenly a battery with musketry opened upon us from the
edge of the woods on the other side of the clearing. The shells and
balls whistled about our ears very fast for about a minute. I do not
think it took us longer than that to get out of range and out of sight.
In the sudden start we made, Major Hawkins lost his hat. He did not
stop to pick it up. When we arrived at a perfectly safe position we
halted to take an account of damages. McPherson's horse was panting as
if ready to drop. On examination it was found that a ball had struck
him forward of the flank just back of the saddle, and had gone entirely
through. In a few minutes the poor beast dropped dead; he had given no
sign of injury until we came to a stop. A ball had struck the metal
scabbard of my sword, just below the hilt, and broken it nearly off;
before the battle was over it had broken off entirely. There were
three of us: one had lost a horse, killed; one a hat and one a
sword-scabbard. All were thankful that it was no worse.

After the rain of the night before and the frequent and heavy rains for
some days previous, the roads were almost impassable. The enemy
carrying his artillery and supply trains over them in his retreat, made
them still worse for troops following. I wanted to pursue, but had not
the heart to order the men who had fought desperately for two days,
lying in the mud and rain whenever not fighting, and I did (*8) not feel
disposed to positively order Buell, or any part of his command, to
pursue. Although the senior in rank at the time I had been so only a
few weeks. Buell was, and had been for some time past, a department
commander, while I commanded only a district. I did not meet Buell in
person until too late to get troops ready and pursue with effect; but
had I seen him at the moment of the last charge I should have at least
requested him to follow.

I rode forward several miles the day after the battle, and found that
the enemy had dropped much, if not all, of their provisions, some
ammunition and the extra wheels of their caissons, lightening their
loads to enable them to get off their guns. About five miles out we
found their field hospital abandoned. An immediate pursuit must have
resulted in the capture of a considerable number of prisoners and
probably some guns.

Shiloh was the severest battle fought at the West during the war, and
but few in the East equalled it for hard, determined fighting. I saw an
open field, in our possession on the second day, over which the
Confederates had made repeated charges the day before, so covered with
dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in
any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without a foot touching the
ground. On our side National and Confederate troops were mingled
together in about equal proportions; but on the remainder of the field
nearly all were Confederates. On one part, which had evidently not been
ploughed for several years, probably because the land was poor, bushes
had grown up, some to the height of eight or ten feet. There was not one
of these left standing unpierced by bullets. The smaller ones were all
cut down.

Contrary to all my experience up to that time, and to the experience of
the army I was then commanding, we were on the defensive. We were
without intrenchments or defensive advantages of any sort, and more than
half the army engaged the first day was without experience or even drill
as soldiers. The officers with them, except the division commanders and
possibly two or three of the brigade commanders, were equally
inexperienced in war. The result was a Union victory that gave the men
who achieved it great confidence in themselves ever after.

The enemy fought bravely, but they had started out to defeat and destroy
an army and capture a position. They failed in both, with very heavy
loss in killed and wounded, and must have gone back discouraged and
convinced that the "Yankee" was not an enemy to be despised.

After the battle I gave verbal instructions to division commanders to
let the regiments send out parties to bury their own dead, and to detail
parties, under commissioned officers from each division, to bury the
Confederate dead in their respective fronts and to report the numbers so
buried. The latter part of these instructions was not carried out by
all; but they were by those sent from Sherman's division, and by some of
the parties sent out by McClernand. The heaviest loss sustained by the
enemy was in front of these two divisions.

The criticism has often been made that the Union troops should have been
intrenched at Shiloh. Up to that time the pick and spade had been but
little resorted to at the West. I had, however, taken this subject
under consideration soon after re-assuming command in the field, and, as
already stated, my only military engineer reported unfavorably. Besides
this, the troops with me, officers and men, needed discipline and drill
more than they did experience with the pick, shovel and axe.
Reinforcements were arriving almost daily, composed of troops that had
been hastily thrown together into companies and regiments--fragments of
incomplete organizations, the men and officers strangers to each other.
Under all these circumstances I concluded that drill and discipline were
worth more to our men than fortifications.

General Buell was a brave, intelligent officer, with as much
professional pride and ambition of a commendable sort as I ever knew. I
had been two years at West Point with him, and had served with him
afterwards, in garrison and in the Mexican war, several years more. He
was not given in early life or in mature years to forming intimate
acquaintances. He was studious by habit, and commanded the confidence
and respect of all who knew him. He was a strict disciplinarian, and
perhaps did not distinguish sufficiently between the volunteer who
"enlisted for the war" and the soldier who serves in time of peace. One
system embraced men who risked life for a principle, and often men of
social standing, competence, or wealth and independence of character.
The other includes, as a rule, only men who could not do as well in any
other occupation. General Buell became an object of harsh criticism
later, some going so far as to challenge his loyalty. No one who knew
him ever believed him capable of a dishonorable act, and nothing could
be more dishonorable than to accept high rank and command in war and
then betray the trust. When I came into command of the army in 1864, I
requested the Secretary of War to restore General Buell to duty.

After the war, during the summer of 1865, I travelled considerably
through the North, and was everywhere met by large numbers of people.
Every one had his opinion about the manner in which the war had been
conducted: who among the generals had failed, how, and why.
Correspondents of the press were ever on hand to hear every word
dropped, and were not always disposed to report correctly what did not
confirm their preconceived notions, either about the conduct of the war
or the individuals concerned in it. The opportunity frequently occurred
for me to defend General Buell against what I believed to be most unjust
charges. On one occasion a correspondent put in my mouth the very
charge I had so often refuted--of disloyalty. This brought from General
Buell a very severe retort, which I saw in the New York World some time
before I received the letter itself. I could very well understand his
grievance at seeing untrue and disgraceful charges apparently sustained
by an officer who, at the time, was at the head of the army. I replied
to him, but not through the press. I kept no copy of my letter, nor did
I ever see it in print; neither did I receive an answer.

General Albert Sidney Johnston, who commanded the Confederate forces at
the beginning of the battle, was disabled by a wound on the afternoon of
the first day. This wound, as I understood afterwards, was not
necessarily fatal, or even dangerous. But he was a man who would not
abandon what he deemed an important trust in the face of danger and
consequently continued in the saddle, commanding, until so exhausted by
the loss of blood that he had to be taken from his horse, and soon after
died. The news was not long in reaching our side and I suppose was
quite an encouragement to the National soldiers.

I had known Johnston slightly in the Mexican war and later as an officer
in the regular army. He was a man of high character and ability. His
contemporaries at West Point, and officers generally who came to know
him personally later and who remained on our side, expected him to prove
the most formidable man to meet that the Confederacy would produce.

I once wrote that nothing occurred in his brief command of an army to
prove or disprove the high estimate that had been placed upon his
military ability; but after studying the orders and dispatches of
Johnston I am compelled to materially modify my views of that officer's
qualifications as a soldier. My judgment now is that he was vacillating
and undecided in his actions.

All the disasters in Kentucky and Tennessee were so discouraging to the
authorities in Richmond that Jefferson Davis wrote an unofficial letter
to Johnston expressing his own anxiety and that of the public, and
saying that he had made such defence as was dictated by long friendship,
but that in the absence of a report he needed facts. The letter was not
a reprimand in direct terms, but it was evidently as much felt as though
it had been one. General Johnston raised another army as rapidly as he
could, and fortified or strongly intrenched at Corinth. He knew the
National troops were preparing to attack him in his chosen position.
But he had evidently become so disturbed at the results of his
operations that he resolved to strike out in an offensive campaign which
would restore all that was lost, and if successful accomplish still
more. We have the authority of his son and biographer for saying that
his plan was to attack the forces at Shiloh and crush them; then to
cross the Tennessee and destroy the army of Buell, and push the war
across the Ohio River. The design was a bold one; but we have the same
authority for saying that in the execution Johnston showed vacillation
and indecision. He left Corinth on the 2d of April and was not ready to
attack until the 6th. The distance his army had to march was less than
twenty miles. Beauregard, his second in command, was opposed to the
attack for two reasons: first, he thought, if let alone the National
troops would attack the Confederates in their intrenchments; second, we
were in ground of our own choosing and would necessarily be intrenched.
Johnston not only listened to the objection of Beauregard to an attack,
but held a council of war on the subject on the morning of the 5th. On
the evening of the same day he was in consultation with some of his
generals on the same subject, and still again on the morning of the 6th.
During this last consultation, and before a decision had been reached,
the battle began by the National troops opening fire on the enemy. This
seemed to settle the question as to whether there was to be any battle
of Shiloh. It also seems to me to settle the question as to whether
there was a surprise.

I do not question the personal courage of General Johnston, or his
ability. But he did not win the distinction predicted for him by many
of his friends. He did prove that as a general he was over-estimated.

General Beauregard was next in rank to Johnston and succeeded to the
command, which he retained to the close of the battle and during the
subsequent retreat on Corinth, as well as in the siege of that place.
His tactics have been severely criticised by Confederate writers, but I
do not believe his fallen chief could have done any better under the
circumstances. Some of these critics claim that Shiloh was won when
Johnston fell, and that if he had not fallen the army under me would
have been annihilated or captured. IFS defeated the Confederates at
Shiloh. There is little doubt that we would have been disgracefully
beaten IF all the shells and bullets fired by us had passed harmlessly
over the enemy and IF all of theirs had taken effect. Commanding
generals are liable to be killed during engagements; and the fact that
when he was shot Johnston was leading a brigade to induce it to make a
charge which had been repeatedly ordered, is evidence that there was
neither the universal demoralization on our side nor the unbounded
confidence on theirs which has been claimed. There was, in fact, no
hour during the day when I doubted the eventual defeat of the enemy,
although I was disappointed that reinforcements so near at hand did not
arrive at an earlier hour.

The description of the battle of Shiloh given by Colonel Wm. Preston
Johnston is very graphic and well told. The reader will imagine that he
can see each blow struck, a demoralized and broken mob of Union
soldiers, each blow sending the enemy more demoralized than ever towards
the Tennessee River, which was a little more than two miles away at the
beginning of the onset. If the reader does not stop to inquire why, with
such Confederate success for more than twelve hours of hard fighting,
the National troops were not all killed, captured or driven into the
river, he will regard the pen picture as perfect. But I witnessed the
fight from the National side from eight o'clock in the morning until
night closed the contest. I see but little in the description that I
can recognize. The Confederate troops fought well and deserve
commendation enough for their bravery and endurance on the 6th of April,
without detracting from their antagonists or claiming anything more than
their just dues.

The reports of the enemy show that their condition at the end of the
first day was deplorable; their losses in killed and wounded had been
very heavy, and their stragglers had been quite as numerous as on the
National side, with the difference that those of the enemy left the
field entirely and were not brought back to their respective commands
for many days. On the Union side but few of the stragglers fell back
further than the landing on the river, and many of these were in line
for duty on the second day. The admissions of the highest Confederate
officers engaged at Shiloh make the claim of a victory for them absurd.
The victory was not to either party until the battle was over. It was
then a Union victory, in which the Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio
both participated. But the Army of the Tennessee fought the entire
rebel army on the 6th and held it at bay until near night; and night
alone closed the conflict and not the three regiments of Nelson's

The Confederates fought with courage at Shiloh, but the particular skill
claimed I could not and still cannot see; though there is nothing to
criticise except the claims put forward for it since. But the
Confederate claimants for superiority in strategy, superiority in
generalship and superiority in dash and prowess are not so unjust to the
Union troops engaged at Shiloh as are many Northern writers. The troops
on both sides were American, and united they need not fear any foreign
foe. It is possible that the Southern man started in with a little more
dash than his Northern brother; but he was correspondingly less

The endeavor of the enemy on the first day was simply to hurl their men
against ours--first at one point, then at another, sometimes at several
points at once. This they did with daring and energy, until at night
the rebel troops were worn out. Our effort during the same time was to
be prepared to resist assaults wherever made. The object of the
Confederates on the second day was to get away with as much of their
army and material as possible. Ours then was to drive them from our
front, and to capture or destroy as great a part as possible of their
men and material. We were successful in driving them back, but not so
successful in captures as if farther pursuit could have been made. As
it was, we captured or recaptured on the second day about as much
artillery as we lost on the first; and, leaving out the one great
capture of Prentiss, we took more prisoners on Monday than the enemy
gained from us on Sunday. On the 6th Sherman lost seven pieces of
artillery, McClernand six, Prentiss eight, and Hurlbut two batteries.
On the 7th Sherman captured seven guns, McClernand three and the Army of
the Ohio twenty.

At Shiloh the effective strength of the Union forces on the morning of
the 6th was 33,000 men. Lew. Wallace brought 5,000 more after
nightfall. Beauregard reported the enemy's strength at 40,955.
According to the custom of enumeration in the South, this number
probably excluded every man enlisted as musician or detailed as guard or
nurse, and all commissioned officers--everybody who did not carry a
musket or serve a cannon. With us everybody in the field receiving pay
from the government is counted. Excluding the troops who fled,
panic-stricken, before they had fired a shot, there was not a time
during the 6th when we had more than 25,000 men in line. On the 7th
Buell brought 20,000 more. Of his remaining two divisions, Thomas's did
not reach the field during the engagement; Wood's arrived before firing
had ceased, but not in time to be of much service.

Our loss in the two days' fight was 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded and
2,885 missing. Of these, 2,103 were in the Army of the Ohio.
Beauregard reported a total loss of 10,699, of whom 1,728 were killed,
8,012 wounded and 957 missing. This estimate must be incorrect. We
buried, by actual count, more of the enemy's dead in front of the
divisions of McClernand and Sherman alone than here reported, and 4,000
was the estimate of the burial parties of the whole field. Beauregard
reports the Confederate force on the 6th at over 40,000, and their total
loss during the two days at 10,699; and at the same time declares that
he could put only 20,000 men in battle on the morning of the 7th.

The navy gave a hearty support to the army at Shiloh, as indeed it
always did both before and subsequently when I was in command. The
nature of the ground was such, however, that on this occasion it could
do nothing in aid of the troops until sundown on the first day. The
country was broken and heavily timbered, cutting off all view of the
battle from the river, so that friends would be as much in danger from
fire from the gunboats as the foe. But about sundown, when the National
troops were back in their last position, the right of the enemy was near
the river and exposed to the fire of the two gun-boats, which was
delivered with vigor and effect. After nightfall, when firing had
entirely ceased on land, the commander of the fleet informed himself,
approximately, of the position of our troops and suggested the idea of
dropping a shell within the lines of the enemy every fifteen minutes
during the night. This was done with effect, as is proved by the
Confederate reports.

Up to the battle of Shiloh I, as well as thousands of other citizens,
believed that the rebellion against the Government would collapse
suddenly and soon, if a decisive victory could be gained over any of its
armies. Donelson and Henry were such victories. An army of more than
21,000 men was captured or destroyed. Bowling Green, Columbus and
Hickman, Kentucky, fell in consequence, and Clarksville and Nashville,
Tennessee, the last two with an immense amount of stores, also fell into
our hands. The Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, from their mouths to
the head of navigation, were secured. But when Confederate armies were
collected which not only attempted to hold a line farther south, from
Memphis to Chattanooga, Knoxville and on to the Atlantic, but assumed
the offensive and made such a gallant effort to regain what had been
lost, then, indeed, I gave up all idea of saving the Union except by
complete conquest. Up to that time it had been the policy of our army,
certainly of that portion commanded by me, to protect the property of
the citizens whose territory was invaded, without regard to their
sentiments, whether Union or Secession. After this, however, I regarded
it as humane to both sides to protect the persons of those found at
their homes, but to consume everything that could be used to support or
supply armies. Protection was still continued over such supplies as
were within lines held by us and which we expected to continue to hold;
but such supplies within the reach of Confederate armies I regarded as
much contraband as arms or ordnance stores. Their destruction was
accomplished without bloodshed and tended to the same result as the
destruction of armies. I continued this policy to the close of the war.
Promiscuous pillaging, however, was discouraged and punished.
Instructions were always given to take provisions and forage under the
direction of commissioned officers who should give receipts to owners,
if at home, and turn the property over to officers of the quartermaster
or commissary departments to be issued as if furnished from our Northern
depots. But much was destroyed without receipts to owners, when it
could not be brought within our lines and would otherwise have gone to
the support of secession and rebellion.

This policy I believe exercised a material influence in hastening the

The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg landing, has been perhaps less
understood, or, to state the case more accurately, more persistently
misunderstood, than any other engagement between National and
Confederate troops during the entire rebellion. Correct reports of the
battle have been published, notably by Sherman, Badeau and, in a speech
before a meeting of veterans, by General Prentiss; but all of these
appeared long subsequent to the close of the rebellion and after public
opinion had been most erroneously formed.

I myself made no report to General Halleck, further than was contained
in a letter, written immediately after the battle informing him that an
engagement had been fought and announcing the result. A few days
afterwards General Halleck moved his headquarters to Pittsburg landing
and assumed command of the troops in the field. Although next to him in
rank, and nominally in command of my old district and army, I was
ignored as much as if I had been at the most distant point of territory
within my jurisdiction; and although I was in command of all the troops
engaged at Shiloh I was not permitted to see one of the reports of
General Buell or his subordinates in that battle, until they were
published by the War Department long after the event. For this reason I
never made a full official report of this engagement.



General Halleck arrived at Pittsburg landing on the 11th of April and
immediately assumed command in the field. On the 21st General Pope
arrived with an army 30,000 strong, fresh from the capture of Island
Number Ten in the Mississippi River. He went into camp at Hamburg
landing five miles above Pittsburg. Halleck had now three armies: the
Army of the Ohio, Buell commanding; the Army of the Mississippi, Pope
commanding; and the Army of the Tennessee. His orders divided the
combined force into the right wing, reserve, centre and left wing.
Major-General George H. Thomas, who had been in Buell's army, was
transferred with his division to the Army of the Tennessee and given
command of the right wing, composed of all of that army except
McClernand's and Lew. Wallace's divisions. McClernand was assigned to
the command of the reserve, composed of his own and Lew. Wallace's
divisions. Buell commanded the centre, the Army of the Ohio; and Pope
the left wing, the Army of the Mississippi. I was named second in
command of the whole, and was also supposed to be in command of the
right wing and reserve.

Orders were given to all the commanders engaged at Shiloh to send in
their reports without delay to department headquarters. Those from
officers of the Army of the Tennessee were sent through me; but from the
Army of the Ohio they were sent by General Buell without passing through
my hands. General Halleck ordered me, verbally, to send in my report,
but I positively declined on the ground that he had received the reports
of a part of the army engaged at Shiloh without their coming through me.
He admitted that my refusal was justifiable under the circumstances, but
explained that he had wanted to get the reports off before moving the
command, and as fast as a report had come to him he had forwarded it to

Preparations were at once made upon the arrival of the new commander for
an advance on Corinth. Owl Creek, on our right, was bridged, and
expeditions were sent to the north-west and west to ascertain if our
position was being threatened from those quarters; the roads towards
Corinth were corduroyed and new ones made; lateral roads were also
constructed, so that in case of necessity troops marching by different
routes could reinforce each other. All commanders were cautioned
against bringing on an engagement and informed in so many words that it
would be better to retreat than to fight. By the 30th of April all
preparations were complete; the country west to the Mobile and Ohio
railroad had been reconnoitred, as well as the road to Corinth as far as
Monterey twelve miles from Pittsburg. Everywhere small bodies of the
enemy had been encountered, but they were observers and not in force to
fight battles.

Corinth, Mississippi, lies in a south-westerly direction from Pittsburg
landing and about nineteen miles away as the bird would fly, but
probably twenty-two by the nearest wagon-road. It is about four miles
south of the line dividing the States of Tennessee and Mississippi, and
at the junction of the Mississippi and Chattanooga railroad with the
Mobile and Ohio road which runs from Columbus to Mobile. From Pittsburg
to Corinth the land is rolling, but at no point reaching an elevation
that makes high hills to pass over. In 1862 the greater part of the
country was covered with forest with intervening clearings and houses.
Underbrush was dense in the low grounds along the creeks and ravines,
but generally not so thick on the high land as to prevent men passing
through with ease. There are two small creeks running from north of the
town and connecting some four miles south, where they form Bridge Creek
which empties into the Tuscumbia River. Corinth is on the ridge between
these streams and is a naturally strong defensive position. The creeks
are insignificant in volume of water, but the stream to the east widens
out in front of the town into a swamp impassable in the presence of an
enemy. On the crest of the west bank of this stream the enemy was
strongly intrenched.

Corinth was a valuable strategic point for the enemy to hold, and
consequently a valuable one for us to possess ourselves of. We ought to
have seized it immediately after the fall of Donelson and Nashville,
when it could have been taken without a battle, but failing then it
should have been taken, without delay on the concentration of troops at
Pittsburg landing after the battle of Shiloh. In fact the arrival of
Pope should not have been awaited. There was no time from the battle of
Shiloh up to the evacuation of Corinth when the enemy would not have
left if pushed. The demoralization among the Confederates from their
defeats at Henry and Donelson; their long marches from Bowling Green,
Columbus, and Nashville, and their failure at Shiloh; in fact from
having been driven out of Kentucky and Tennessee, was so great that a
stand for the time would have been impossible. Beauregard made
strenuous efforts to reinforce himself and partially succeeded. He
appealed to the people of the South-west for new regiments, and received
a few. A. S. Johnston had made efforts to reinforce in the same
quarter, before the battle of Shiloh, but in a different way. He had
negroes sent out to him to take the place of teamsters, company cooks
and laborers in every capacity, so as to put all his white men into the
ranks. The people, while willing to send their sons to the field, were
not willing to part with their negroes. It is only fair to state that
they probably wanted their blacks to raise supplies for the army and for
the families left at home.

Beauregard, however, was reinforced by Van Dorn immediately after Shiloh
with 17,000 men. Interior points, less exposed, were also depleted to
add to the strength at Corinth. With these reinforcements and the new
regiments, Beauregard had, during the month of May, 1862, a large force
on paper, but probably not much over 50,000 effective men. We estimated
his strength at 70,000. Our own was, in round numbers, 120,000. The
defensible nature of the ground at Corinth, and the fortifications, made
50,000 then enough to maintain their position against double that number
for an indefinite time but for the demoralization spoken of.

On the 30th of April the grand army commenced its advance from Shiloh
upon Corinth. The movement was a siege from the start to the close.
The National troops were always behind intrenchments, except of course
the small reconnoitring parties sent to the front to clear the way for
an advance. Even the commanders of these parties were cautioned, "not
to bring on an engagement." "It is better to retreat than to fight."
The enemy were constantly watching our advance, but as they were simply
observers there were but few engagements that even threatened to become
battles. All the engagements fought ought to have served to encourage
the enemy. Roads were again made in our front, and again corduroyed; a
line was intrenched, and the troops were advanced to the new position.
Cross roads were constructed to these new positions to enable the troops
to concentrate in case of attack. The National armies were thoroughly
intrenched all the way from the Tennessee River to Corinth.

For myself I was little more than an observer. Orders were sent direct
to the right wing or reserve, ignoring me, and advances were made from
one line of intrenchments to another without notifying me. My position
was so embarrassing in fact that I made several applications during the
siege to be relieved.

General Halleck kept his headquarters generally, if not all the time,
with the right wing. Pope being on the extreme left did not see so much
of his chief, and consequently got loose as it were at times. On the 3d
of May he was at Seven Mile Creek with the main body of his command, but
threw forward a division to Farmington, within four miles of Corinth.
His troops had quite a little engagement at Farmington on that day, but
carried the place with considerable loss to the enemy. There would then
have been no difficulty in advancing the centre and right so as to form
a new line well up to the enemy, but Pope was ordered back to conform
with the general line. On the 8th of May he moved again, taking his
whole force to Farmington, and pushed out two divisions close to the
rebel line. Again he was ordered back. By the 4th of May the centre
and right wing reached Monterey, twelve miles out. Their advance was
slow from there, for they intrenched with every forward movement. The
left wing moved up again on the 25th of May and intrenched itself close
to the enemy. The creek with the marsh before described, separated the
two lines. Skirmishers thirty feet apart could have maintained either
line at this point.

Our centre and right were, at this time, extended so that the right of
the right wing was probably five miles from Corinth and four from the
works in their front. The creek, which was a formidable obstacle for
either side to pass on our left, became a very slight obstacle on our
right. Here the enemy occupied two positions. One of them, as much as
two miles out from his main line, was on a commanding elevation and
defended by an intrenched battery with infantry supports. A heavy wood
intervened between this work and the National forces. In rear to the
south there was a clearing extending a mile or more, and south of this
clearing a log-house which had been loop-holed and was occupied by
infantry. Sherman's division carried these two positions with some loss
to himself, but with probably greater to the enemy, on the 28th of May,
and on that day the investment of Corinth was complete, or as complete
as it was ever made. Thomas' right now rested west of the Mobile and
Ohio railroad. Pope's left commanded the Memphis and Charleston railroad
east of Corinth.

Some days before I had suggested to the commanding general that I
thought if he would move the Army of the Mississippi at night, by the
rear of the centre and right, ready to advance at daylight, Pope would
find no natural obstacle in his front and, I believed, no serious
artificial one. The ground, or works, occupied by our left could be
held by a thin picket line, owing to the stream and swamp in front. To
the right the troops would have a dry ridge to march over. I was
silenced so quickly that I felt that possibly I had suggested an
unmilitary movement.

Later, probably on the 28th of May, General Logan, whose command was
then on the Mobile and Ohio railroad, said to me that the enemy had been
evacuating for several days and that if allowed he could go into Corinth
with his brigade. Trains of cars were heard coming in and going out of
Corinth constantly. Some of the men who had been engaged in various
capacities on railroads before the war claimed that they could tell, by
putting their ears to the rail, not only which way the trains were
moving but which trains were loaded and which were empty. They said
loaded trains had been going out for several days and empty ones coming
in. Subsequent events proved the correctness of their judgment.
Beauregard published his orders for the evacuation of Corinth on the
26th of May and fixed the 29th for the departure of his troops, and on
the 30th of May General Halleck had his whole army drawn up prepared for
battle and announced in orders that there was every indication that our
left was to be attacked that morning. Corinth had already been
evacuated and the National troops marched on and took possession without
opposition. Everything had been destroyed or carried away. The
Confederate commander had instructed his soldiers to cheer on the
arrival of every train to create the impression among the Yankees that
reinforcements were arriving. There was not a sick or wounded man left
by the Confederates, nor stores of any kind. Some ammunition had been
blown up--not removed--but the trophies of war were a few Quaker guns,
logs of about the diameter of ordinary cannon, mounted on wheels of
wagons and pointed in the most threatening manner towards us.

The possession of Corinth by the National troops was of strategic
importance, but the victory was barren in every other particular. It
was nearly bloodless. It is a question whether the MORALE of the
Confederate troops engaged at Corinth was not improved by the immunity
with which they were permitted to remove all public property and then
withdraw themselves. On our side I know officers and men of the Army of
the Tennessee--and I presume the same is true of those of the other
commands--were disappointed at the result. They could not see how the
mere occupation of places was to close the war while large and effective
rebel armies existed. They believed that a well-directed attack would
at least have partially destroyed the army defending Corinth. For
myself I am satisfied that Corinth could have been captured in a two
days' campaign commenced promptly on the arrival of reinforcements after
the battle of Shiloh.

General Halleck at once commenced erecting fortifications around Corinth
on a scale to indicate that this one point must be held if it took the
whole National army to do it. All commanding points two or three miles
to the south, south-east and south-west were strongly fortified. It was
expected in case of necessity to connect these forts by rifle-pits.
They were laid out on a scale that would have required 100,000 men to
fully man them. It was probably thought that a final battle of the war
would be fought at that point. These fortifications were never used.
Immediately after the occupation of Corinth by the National troops,
General Pope was sent in pursuit of the retreating garrison and General
Buell soon followed. Buell was the senior of the two generals and
commanded the entire column. The pursuit was kept up for some thirty
miles, but did not result in the capture of any material of war or
prisoners, unless a few stragglers who had fallen behind and were
willing captives. On the 10th of June the pursuing column was all back
at Corinth. The Army of the Tennessee was not engaged in any of these

The Confederates were now driven out of West Tennessee, and on the 6th
of June, after a well-contested naval battle, the National forces took
possession of Memphis and held the Mississippi river from its source to
that point. The railroad from Columbus to Corinth was at once put in
good condition and held by us. We had garrisons at Donelson,
Clarksville and Nashville, on the Cumberland River, and held the
Tennessee River from its mouth to Eastport. New Orleans and Baton Rouge
had fallen into the possession of the National forces, so that now the
Confederates at the west were narrowed down for all communication with
Richmond to the single line of road running east from Vicksburg. To
dispossess them of this, therefore, became a matter of the first
importance. The possession of the Mississippi by us from Memphis to
Baton Rouge was also a most important object. It would be equal to the
amputation of a limb in its weakening effects upon the enemy.

After the capture of Corinth a movable force of 80,000 men, besides
enough to hold all the territory acquired, could have been set in motion
for the accomplishment of any great campaign for the suppression of the
rebellion. In addition to this fresh troops were being raised to swell
the effective force. But the work of depletion commenced. Buell with
the Army of the Ohio was sent east, following the line of the Memphis
and Charleston railroad. This he was ordered to repair as he advanced
--only to have it destroyed by small guerilla bands or other troops as
soon as he was out of the way. If he had been sent directly to
Chattanooga as rapidly as he could march, leaving two or three divisions
along the line of the railroad from Nashville forward, he could have
arrived with but little fighting, and would have saved much of the loss
of life which was afterwards incurred in gaining Chattanooga. Bragg
would then not have had time to raise an army to contest the possession
of middle and east Tennessee and Kentucky; the battles of Stone River
and Chickamauga would not necessarily have been fought; Burnside would
not have been besieged in Knoxville without the power of helping himself
or escaping; the battle of Chattanooga would not have been fought.
These are the negative advantages, if the term negative is applicable,
which would probably have resulted from prompt movements after Corinth
fell into the possession of the National forces. The positive results
might have been: a bloodless advance to Atlanta, to Vicksburg, or to
any other desired point south of Corinth in the interior of Mississippi.


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