One of the most revisited actions of the Civil War happened here, February 15, 1862.
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At daybreak on February 15, Pillow and Johnson's division, along with Col. Nathan B. Forrest's cavalry, attacked Gen. John A. McClernand's troops on the Union right flank in an attempt to secure an escape route on this road. The attack succeeded in briefly opening Forge Road as an avenue of escape but, because of indecision and confusion among their commanders, the Confederate troops were ordered to return to their entrenchments. Union soldiers reoccupied the area the southerners had fought so hard to control.
Reports of Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, C. S. Army. FEBRUARY 12-16, 1862.--Siege and Capture of Fort Donelson, Tennessee. O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 7 [S# 7]
CAMP NEAR MURFREESBOROUGH, TENN., February 27, 1862.
SIR: Your order of the 12th of this month, transmitted to me from Bowling Green by telegraph to Cumberland City, reached me the same evening. It directed me to repair at once, with what force I could command, to the support of the garrison at Fort Donelson. I immediately prepared for my departure, and effected it in time to reach Fort Donelson the next morning (13th) before daylight. Measures had been already taken by Brigadier-General Pillow, then in command, to render our resistance to the attack of the enemy as effectual as possible. He had, with activity and industry, pushed forward the defensive works towards completion.
These defenses consisted in an earthwork in Fort Donelson, in which were mounted guns of different calibers to the number of thirteen. A field work, intended for the infantry support, was constructed immediately behind the battery and upon the summit of the hill in rear. Sweeping away from this field work eastward, to the extent of nearly 2 miles in its windings, was a line of intrenchments, defended on the outside at some points with abatis. These intrenchments were occupied by the troops already there and by the addition of those which came upon the field with me. The position of the fort, which was established by the Tennessee authorities, was by no means commanding, nor was the least military significance attached to the position. The intrenchments, afterwards hastily made, in many places were injudiciously constructed, because of the distance they were placed from the brow of the hill, subjecting the men to a heavy fire from the enemy's sharpshooters opposite as they advanced to or retired from the intrenchments.
Soon after my arrival the intrenchments were fully occupied from one end to the other, and just as the sun rose the cannonade from one of the enemy's gunboats announced the opening of the conflict, which was destined to continue for three days and nights. In a very short time the fire became general along our whole lines, and the enemy, who had already planted batteries at several points around the whole circuit of our intrenchments, as shown by a diagram herewith sent, opened a general and active fire from all arms upon our trenches, which continued until darkness put an end to the conflict. They charged with uncommon spirit at several points along on the line, but most particularly at a point undefended by intrenchments, down a hollow, which separated the right wing, under the command of Brigadier-General Buckner, from the right of the center, commanded by Colonel Heiman. This charge was prosecuted with uncommon vigor, but was met with a determined spirit of resistance--a cool, deliberate courage--both by the troops of Brigadier-General Buckner and Colonel Heiman, which drove the enemy, discomfited and cut to pieces, back upon the position he had assumed in the morning. Too high praise cannot be bestowed upon the battery of Captain Porter for their participation in the rout of the enemy in this assault. My position was immediately in front of the point of attack, and I was thus enabled to witness more distinctly the incidents of it.
The enemy continued their fire upon different parts of our intrenchments throughout the night, which deprived our men of any opportunity to sleep. We lay that, night, upon our arms in the trenches. We confidently expected at the dawn of day a more vigorous attack than ever; but in this we were entirely mistaken. The day advanced and no preparations seemed to be making for a general onset; but an extremely annoying fire was kept up from the enemy's sharpshooters throughout the whole length of the intrenchments from their long-range rifles. While this mode of attack was not attended with any consider able loss, it nevertheless confined the men to their trenches and prevented their taking their usual rest.
So stood the affairs of the field until about 3 p.m., when the fleet of gunboats in full force advanced upon the fort and opened fire. They advanced in the shape of a crescent, and kept up a constant and incessant fire for one hour and a half, which was replied to with uncommon spirit and vigor by the fort. Once the boats reached a point within a few hundred yards of the fort, at which time it was that three of their boats sustained serious injuries from our batteries and were compelled to fall back. The line was broken and the enemy discomfited on the water, giving up the fight entirely, which he never afterwards renewed.
I was satisfied from the incidents of the last two days that the enemy did not intend again to give us battle in our trenches. They had been fairly repulsed with very heavy slaughter upon every effort to storm our position, and it was but fair to infer that they would not again renew the unavailing attempt at our dislodgment when certain means to effect the same end without loss were perfectly at their command. We were aware of the fact that extremely heavy re-enforcements had been continually arriving day and night for three days and nights, and I had no doubt whatever that their whole available force on the Western waters could and would be concentrated here if it was deemed necessary to reduce our position. I had already seen the impossibility of holding out for any length of time with our inadequate numbers and indefensible position. There was no place within our intrenchments but could be reached by the enemy's artillery from their boats or their batteries.
It was but fair to infer that while they kept up a sufficient fire upon our intrenchments to keep our men from sleep and prevent repose, their object was merely to give time to pass a column above us on the river, both on the right and the left banks, and thus to cut off all our communication and to prevent the possibility of egress. I then saw clearly that but one course was left by which a rational hope could be entertained of saving the garrison or a part of it--that was to dislodge the enemy from his position on our left, and thus to pass our people into the open country lying southward towards Nashville. I called for a consultation of the officers of divisions and brigades to take place after dark, when this plan was laid before them, approved, and adopted, and at which it was determined to move from the trenches at an early hour on the next morning and attack the enemy in his position.
It was agreed that the attack should commence upon our extreme left, and this duty was assigned Brigadier-General Pillow, assisted by Brigadier-General Johnson, having also under his command commanders of brigades Colonel Baldwin, commanding Mississippi and Tennessee troops, and Colonel Wharton and Colonel McCausland, commanding Virginians. To Brigadier-General Buckner was assigned the duty of making the attack from near the center of our lines upon the enemy's forces upon the Wynn's Ferry road. The attack on the left was delayed longer than I expected, and consequently the enemy was found in position when our troops advanced. The attack, however, on our part was extremely spirited; and although the resistance of the enemy was obstinate, and their numbers far exceeded ours, our people succeeded in driving them, discomfited and terribly cut to pieces, from the entire left.
The Kentucky troops, under Brigadier-General Buckner, advanced from their position behind the intrenchments upon the Wynn's Ferry road, but not until the enemy had been driven in a great measure from the position he occupied in the morning.
I had ordered on the night before that the two regiments stationed in Fort Donelson should occupy the trenches vacated by Brigadier-General Buckner's forces, which, together with the men whom he detached to assist in this purpose, I thought sufficient to hold them. My intention was to hold with Brigadier-General Buckner's command the Wynn's Ferry road, and thus to prevent the enemy during the night from occupying the position on our left which he occupied in the morning. I gave him orders upon the field to that effect.
Leaving him in position, then, I started for the right of our command, to see that all was secure there, my intention being, if things could be held in the condition that they then were, to move the whole army, if possible, to the open country lying southward beyond the Randolph Forge. During my absence, and from some misapprehension, I presume, of the previous order given, Brigadier-General Pillow ordered Brigadier-General Buckner to leave his position on the Wynn's Ferry road and to resume his place in his trenches on the right. This movement was nearly executed before I was aware of it.. As the enemy were pressing upon the trenches, I deemed that the execution of this last order was all that was left to be done. The enemy, in fact, succeeded in occupying an angle of the trenches on the extreme right of Brigadier-General Buckner's command; and, as the fresh forces of the enemy had begun already to move towards our left to occupy the position they held in the morning, and as we had no force adequate to oppose their progress, we had to submit to the mortification of seeing the ground which we had won by such a severe conflict in the morning reoccupied by the enemy before midnight.
The enemy had been landing re-enforcements throughout the day. His numbers had been augmented to eighty-three regiments. Our troops were completely exhausted by four days and nights of continued conflict. To renew it, with any hope of successful result was obviously vain, and such I understand to be the unanimous opinion of all the officers present at the council called to consider what was best to be done. I thought, and so announced, that a desperate onset upon the right of the enemy's forces, on the ground where we had attacked them in the morning, might result in the extricating of a considerable proportion of the command from the position we were in, and this opinion I understood to be concurred in by all who were present; but it was likewise agreed, with the same unanimity, that it would result in the slaughter of nearly all who did not succeed in effecting their escape. The question then a rose whether, in point of humanity and a sound military policy, a course should be adopted from which the probabilities were that the larger proportion of the command would be cut to pieces in an unavailing fight against overwhelming numbers. I understood the general sentiment to be averse to the proposition, I felt that in this contingency, while it might be questioned whether I should, as commander of the army, lead it to certain destruction in an unavailing fight, I had a right individually to determine that I would not survive a surrender there. To satisfy both propositions, I agreed to hand over the command to Brigadier-General Buckner through Brigadier-General Pillow, and to make an effort for my own extrication by any and every means that might present themselves to me. I therefore directed Colonel Forrest, a daring and determined officer, at the head of an efficient regiment of cavalry, to be present, for the purpose of accompanying me in what I supposed would be, an effort to pass through the enemy's lines. I announced the fact upon turning the command over to Brigadier-General Buckner that I would bring away with me by any means I could command my own particular brigade, the propriety of which was acquiesced in on all hands. This, by various modes, I succeeded in accomplishing to a great extent, and would have brought off my whole command in one way or another if I had had the assistance of the field officers who were absent from several of the regiments. The command was turned over to Brigadier-General Buckner, who at once opened negotiations with the enemy, which resulted in the surrender of the place.
Thus ended the conflict, running through four days and four nights, a large portion of which time it was maintained with the greatest fierceness and obstinacy, in which we, with a force not exceeding 13,000, a large part of whom were ill armed, succeeded in resisting and driving back with discomfiture an army consisting of more than 50,000 men.
I have no means of accurately estimating the loss of the enemy. From what I saw upon the battle-field; from what I witnessed throughout the whole period of the conflict; from what I was able to learn from sources of information deemed by me worthy of credit, I have no doubt that the enemy's loss in killed and wounded reached a number beyond 5,000. Our own losses were extremely heavy, but, for want of exact returns, I am unable to state precise numbers. I think there will not be far from 1,500 killed and wounded.
Nothing could exceed the coolness and determined spirit of resistance which animated the men in this long and perilous conflict; nothing could exceed the determined courage which characterized them throughout this terrible struggle, and nothing could be more admirable than the steadiness which they exhibited, until nature itself was exhausted, in what they knew to be a desperate fight against a foe very many times their superior in numbers. I cannot particularize in this report to you the numberless instances of heroic daring performed by both officers and men, but must content myself for the present by saying in my judgment they all deserve well of their country.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, JOHN B. FLOYD, Brigadier. Genera l, Commanding.
General A. SIDNEY JOHNSTON.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., March 20, 1862.
SIR: Your communication of the 16th instant, from Decatur, reached me here to-day, where I came in compliance with an order from Major-General Smith, who felt his position endangered from the advance of the enemy.
In that communication you say:
Under date of March 11th the Secretary of War says:
"The reports of Generals Floyd and Pillow are unsatisfactory, and the President directs that both these generals be relieved from command till further orders." he further directs General Johnston "in the mean time to request them to add to their reports such statements as they may deem proper on the following points:
1st. The failure to give timely notice of the insufficiency of the garrison of Fort Donelson to repel attacks.
"2d. The failure of an attempt to save the army by evacuating the post when found to be untenable.
"3d. Why they abandoned the command to their inferior officer, instead of executing themselves whatever measure was deemed proper for the entire army.
" 4th. What was the precise mode by which each effected his escape from the post and what dangers were encountered in the retreat?
"5th. Upon what principle a selection was made of particular troops, being certain regiments of the senior general's brigade, to whose use all the transportation on hand was appropriated.
"6th. A particular designation of the regiments saved and the regiments abandoned which formed part of the senior general's brigade."
In obedience to this order I am directed by General Johnston to request your compliance with the wishes of the President in these particulars with as little delay as possible, and forward the report to these headquarters.
Under the same direction General Johnston has required a report from Colonel Forrest, detailing particularly the time and manner of his escape from Fort Donelson, the road he took, the number of enemies he met or saw in making his escape, and the difficulties which existed to prevent the remainder of the army from following the route taken by him in his escape with his command.
I give at once the additional information which seems to be asked for in the communication of the Secretary of War to which you refer.
The first charge is as follows:
The failure to give timely notice of the insufficiency of the garrison of Fort Donel-son to repel attacks.
I presume the general knew, before I was ordered to Fort Donelson, that neither the works nor the troops sent there could withstand the force which he knew the enemy had in hand and which could be brought speedily to that point. I knew perfectly well that if the whole force under General Johnston's command at Bowling Green had been sent to Fort Donelson it would prove utterly insufficient to repel the advance of the enemy up the Cumberland River. General Johnston's entire force, including the troops at Donelson, as I understood it, did not exceed 30,000 men. I knew what I believe everybody else did, for it was made public through the newspapers, that the enemy had in Kentucky alone one hundred and nineteen regiments, and that he had nearly if not quite as many at Cairo, Saint Louis, and the towns near the mouth of the Cumberland. It was also known that the enemy had unlimited means of transportation for concentrating troops. How, then, was it possible for General Johnston's whole army to meet that force, which was known to be moving towards the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers? The sequel proved that this information was correct, for not only were the troops occupying Kentucky sent up the Cumberland, but large additions were made to them from Missouri and Illinois, as stated by prisoners and by the official reports of their own commanders. I could not, under a sense of duty, call for re-enforcements, because the force under General Johnston was not strong enough to afford a sufficient number to hold the place. I consider the place illy chosen, out of position, and entirely indefensible by any re-enforcements which could be brought there to its support. It had but thirteen guns, and it turned out that but three of these were effective against iron-clad steamers. I thought the force already there sufficient for sacrifice, as well as enough to hold the place until Bowling Green could be evacuated, with its supplies and munitions of war. This I supposed to be the main object of the movement to Donelson, and the only good that could be effected by desperately holding that post with the entirely inadequate means in hand for defense of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.
With a less force than 50,000 men the position at Fort Donelson was, in my judgment, quite untenable, and even with that force it could have been held for only a short time, unless a force of 20,000 men was supporting it at Clarksville and 25,000 more at least had been stationed at Nashville. While these were my own views and opinions, I nevertheless transmitted to General Johnston the exact state of affairs at the fort at every stage of the conflict.
My views and opinions upon the defense of Fort Donelson and the means of extricating the army from the trap in which necessity had thrown it there had been set forth in a letter addressed to the general from Clarksville before I received orders to go to Fort Donelson, bearing date of February 12. I annex a copy of that letter:
CLARKSVILLE, TENN., February 12, 1862.
SIR: There is but little known satisfactorily of the enemy or their movements; up to 10 o'clock last night all was quiet as usual at the fort. General Buckner is now there. I have thought the best disposition to make of the troops on this line was to concentrate the main force at Cumberland City, leaving at Fort Donelson enough to make all possible resistance to any attack which may be made upon the fort, but no more. The character of the country in the rear and to the left of the fort is such as to make it dangerous to concentrate our whole force there; for, if their gunboats should pass the fort and command the river, our troops would be in danger of being cut off by a force from the Tennessee. In this event their road would be open to Nashville, without any obstruction whatever. The position at Cumberland City is better; for there the railroad diverges from the river, which would afford some little facility for transportation in case of necessity; and from thence the open country southward towards Nashville is easily reached. Besides, from that point we threaten the flank of any force sent from the Tennessee against the fort. I am making every possible effort to concentrate the forces here at Cumberland City. I have been in the greatest dread ever since I reached this place at their scattered condition. The force is inadequate to defend a line of 40 miles in length, which can he attacked from three different directions. We can only be formidable by concentration. A strong guard is all that can be left here, and this no longer than your movement can be made. I shall begin today, if the engineers report favorably, to blockade the river at the piers of the railroad bridge. I have taken up an idea that a raft, secured against this bridge, can render the river impassable for the gunboats. If this is possible, it will be an immense relict to the movements above. I am quite sure this blockade can be made at a lower stage of water; but the present stage of water renders this experiment somewhat doubtful; still I will make every exertion to effect the blockade, if possible. I received by telegraph your authority to make any disposition of the troops which in my judgment was best, and acknowledged it by a dispatch immediately. I am acting accordingly.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant, JOHN B. FLOYD, Brigadier-General, C.S. Army.
CHARGE 2.--The failure of any attempt to save the army by evacuating the post when found to be untenable.
I have been unfortunate if I have failed to show in my report of the battle at Fort Donelson that the fight on February 15, outside of our intrenchments, was nothing but an attempt to save the army by evacuating the fort, which the position and numbers of the enemy had already rendered untenable. In my report of February 27 I attempted to explain why we left our intrenchments on the 15th to give battle and the object I had in view in doing so. I said:
I had already seen the impossibility of holding out for any length of time with our inadequate numbers and indefensible position. There was no place in our intrenchments but could be reached by the enemy's artillery from their boats or their batteries. It was but fair to infer that while they kept up a sufficient fire upon our intrenchments to keep our men from sleep and prevent repose, their object was merely to give time to pass a column above us on the river, both on the right and the left banks, and thus to cut off all our communications and to prevent the possibility of egress. I then saw clearly that but one course was left by which a rational hope could be entertained of saving the garrison or a part of it--that was to dislodge the enemy from his position on our left, and thus to pass our people into the open country lying southward towards Nashville.
Upon the failure of' this enterprise, the causes of' which are fully set forth in my report, it obviously became impossible to save the army by evacuating the post; the attempt to save the army had been made. I thought then, and still think, that a more earnest attempt could not have been made by an equal number of men to accomplish any enterprise by force of arms. To extricate the army then involved the necessity of another battle that night, more desperate than that of the morning, because the enemy had been greatly re-enforced, and held their former position with fresh troops. There is such a thing as human exhaustion, an end of physical ability in man to march and fight, however little such a contingency may seem possible to those who sleep quietly upon soft beds, who fare sumptuously every day, and have never tried the exposure of protracted battles and hard campaigns. This point had been reached by our men; the conflict, toil, and excitement of unsuspended battle, running through eighty-four hours, was enough to wear out the physical strength of any men; especially so when the greater part of the time they were exposed to a storm of sleet, snow, and continued frost, and opposed to a force five or six times greater than their own, without shelter or fire. Many of the men had been frost-bitten, and a great many were so overcome by fatigue and want of sleep as to be unable to keep open their eyes standing on their feet in the face and under the fire of the enemy. In fact, the men were totally out of condition to fight.
There were but two roads by which it was possible to retire. If they went by the upper road, they would certainly have a strong position of the enemy to cut through, besides having to march over the battle-field strewn with corpses; and if they retired by the lower road, they would have to wade through water 3 feet deep; which latter ordeal the medical director stated would be death to more than half of the command on account of the severity of the weather and their physical prostration. It was believed in council that the army could not retire without sacrificing three-fourths of it. The consultation which took place among the officers on the night of the 15th was to ascertain whether a further struggle could be maintained, and it was resolved in the negative unconditionally and emphatically. General Buckner, whose immediate command was the largest in the fort, was positive and unequivocal in his opinion that the fight could not be renewed. I confess I was myself strongly influenced by this opinion of General Buckner; for I have not yet seen an officer in whose superior military ability, clear, discriminating judgment, in whose calm, unflinching courage and unselfish patriotism I more fully confide than in his. The loss to the Confederacy of so able, brave, and accomplished a soldier is irreparable.
From my own knowledge of the condition of the men I thought that but few of them were in condition to encounter a night conflict; so the plan of renewing the battle was abandoned, and thus the necessity of surrender was prevented. All agreed that the necessity existed. That conclusion having been reached, nothing remained but to consider the manner of it, and that is fully set forth in my former report.
CHARGE 3.--Why they abandoned the command to their inferior officer, instead of executing themselves whatever measure was deemed proper for the entire army.
The "abandonment of command" here imputed I suppose to mean the act of transferring to General Buckner, who was willing to execute it, the performance of the formalities of surrender. The surrender was a painful and inexorable necessity, which could not be avoided, and not a "measure deemed proper for the entire army." On the contrary, my proposition to take away as large a portion of the forces as possible met, I am sure, with the approbation of the whole council. One of the reasons which induced me to make this transfer to General Buckner was in order that-I might be untrammeled in the effort was determined to make to extricate as many of the command as possible from the tort, to which object I devoted myself during the night of the 15th. So that I accomplished the fact of bringing off troops from the position, I thought little of the manner of doing so. All possibility of further fighting was over. Not another gun was to be fired; no personal risk was to be incurred; certain and absolute freedom from all personal danger was secured to those who surrendered; further danger, conflict, and toil could befall those only who should attempt to escape and those I chose to lead.
Nothing was to be done by those who remained but to hoist the white flag and to surrender. This I would not do, for the "measure" of surrender had not been thought of by myself or any officer present in the council as one proper for the "entire army." I suppose it to be an unquestionable principle of military action that in case of disaster it is better to save a part of a command than to lose the whole. The alternative proposition which I adopted in preference to surrendering the "entire army" was to make my way out of the beleaguered camp with such men as were still able to make another struggle, if it could be accomplished; and, if it could not be, then to take any consequences that did not involve a surrender.
CHARGE 5.--Upon what principle a selection was made of particular troops, being certain regiments of the senior general's brigade, to whose use all the transportation on hand was appropriated.
The answer to this charge leads directly to that of the fourth, and I therefore respond first to this. I presume it is well established that a senior general can select any troops under his command for any service or purpose or plan he may choose to execute; and if the means were offered of extricating only a portion of men from a general surrender, I presume the selection of this portion would rest with him rather than with any other person or persons. This would be a sufficient answer to the charge in question, if I chose to rely upon it, which I do not. My real answer I will give fully. It is untrue that "all the transportation on hand was appropriated to certain regiments of the senior general's brigade." It is untrue that a selection was made of "particular troops." I am sure that quite as many men belonging to other brigades were provided with "means of escape" "by the transportation on hand" as were of the senior general's brigade.
Late at night it was ascertained that two steamboats would probably reach the landing before daylight. Then I determined to let Colonel Forrest's cavalry proceed on their march by the river road, which was impassable for anything but cavalry, on account of the backwater and overflow, while I would remain behind and endeavor to get away as many men as possible by the boats. The boats came a short time before daylight, when I hastened to the river and began to ferry the men over to the opposite shore as rapidly as possible.
The men were taken on indiscriminately as they came to the boats: but, in the first instance, more of the "senior general's brigade" were present than of other troops, from this circumstance, namely, that where I determined not to surrender, I caused my brigade to be drawn up in line and to await my final preparation for a forward movement. This was promptly done, and as they were nearest the left flank, where the fight would first begin, so likewise were they nearest to the river landing From this circumstance it happened that the troops from my immediate command were among the first to enter the boats; but all the men from all portions of the army who were present and could be gotten on board were taken indiscriminately, as far as I had any knowledge. No man of the army was excluded to make room for my brigade. On the contrary, all who came were taken on board until some time after daylight, when I received a message from General Buckner that any further delay at the wharf would certainly cause the loss of the boat with all on board. Such was the want of all order and discipline by this time on shore that a wild rush was made at the boat, which the captain said would swamp her unless he pushed off immediately. This was done, and about sunrise the boat on which I was (the other having gone) left the shore and steered up the river. By this "precise mode" I effected my "escape," and after leaving the wharf the Department will be pleased to hear that I encountered no dangers whatever from the enemy.
I had announced in council my determination to take my own brigade and attempt a retreat; and this, I presume, is what is referred to in the charge of "selecting certain regiments of the senior general's brigade." I "selected" this command because they had been with me in the most trying service for seven months; had been repeatedly under fire; had been exposed to every hardship incident to a campaign; had never on any occasion flinched or faltered; had never uttered a complaint, and I knew were to be relied on for any enterprise that could be accomplished. In announcing this intention it was far from my purpose to exclude any troops who might think proper or might be physically able to join me in making the movement.
CHARGE 6.--A particular designation of the regiments saved and the regiments abandoned which formed a part of the senior general's brigade.
My brigade consisted of the Thirty;-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, the Fiftieth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, the Fifty-first Regiment Virginia Volunteers, the Fifty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, and the Twentieth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers. No one of these regiments was either wholly saved or wholly left. I could obtain no reports from regiments until I arrived at Murfreesborough. There our morning reports show the aggregate of each regiment present respectively to have been: Of the Thirty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, 243; Fiftieth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, 285; Fifty-first Regiment Virginia Volunteers, 274; Fifty-sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, 184. The Twentieth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers handed in no report at Murfreesborough, and what there was of it was ordered away by General Johnston; but I am informed that their morning report will show over 300 as present. These reports were made before those who had been ferried over the river at Donelson had come up.
A considerable number of men from each of these regiments were "saved" and many of each were left behind. Of my own brigade, a great many who were left effected their escape by every means they could command and joined their regiments and companies, except the Twentieth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, which, by General Johnston's order, was detached and sent home to recruit. This regiment, at the last accounts I had of it, immediately after the fight of Fort Don-elson, numbered, as already stated, about 300 men; but I have no accurate information on the subject. The loss I felt most seriously was that of my three artillery companies of Virginia troops, so remarkable for their efficiency and real gallantry, who had followed me so faithfully throughout my service in Virginia, and who fought so bravely during the whole of the trying conflict at Donelson.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, JOHN B. FLOYD, Brig. Gen., C. S. A.