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1862 March 19: Follow-Up Articles on Fort Donelson and Fort Henry

March 25, 2012

From the March 19, 1862, issue of The Hudson North Star.


The following is Gen Pillow’s [Gideon J. Pillow] explanation of the Southern people of the cause of the loss of Fort Donelson:

He (Pillow) held the extreme left. Floyd the center, and Buckner the right wing. ” On Saturday,” says Pillow, ” I drove the Lincoln army inch by inch, expecting Buckner’s assistance, as I had ordered him to detach a portion of his force and march to the assistance of Floyd against the center. But he refused to obey the order, giving as his reason that the enemy then landed from the boats would come up the hill over his breastworks and in his rear.” From this moment, Saturday morning, Buckner seemed to give up all hope, and about noon, when the three Generals had a conference, he advocated a surrender. Pillow objected; Floyd soon agreed with Buckner. then Pillow asked the other two to turn over the whole command to him and that he would fight it through. Buckner would not consent saying the lives of his men should soon be sacrificed. Floyd said, ” Gentlemen do what you please; but the Fort must not be surrendered with me in it” if it should, I know I should be hung. So they finally agree, after dinner on Saturday, a follows: Floyd would with his own private troops, make his escape up the river: Pillow wih one and would take a small boat and cross the river at Dover; while Buckner would remain and surrender on the best terms he could get This was the programme which they carried out.

How Floyd Escaped.

It has appeared encomprehensible to most readers, how Floyd and Pillow could escape from Fort Donelson with five thousand men, a number of pieces of cannon and a supply of the best arms, without detection. The Donelson correspondent of the N.Y. Tribune explains it, as follows:

We had no force above the fort on the opposite side of the river.  Steamers were lying near Dover, a little village just above the Fort and within the enemy’s lines, and had been conveying provisions to the rebels for several days without fear of molestation.  All that Pillow and Floyd had to do, therefore, was to go down to the boats, cross the Cumberland, and go up on the opposite side as far as Nashville.  It was general-ly supposed we had troops and batteries to detect such a movement, but we had not; and that we had not, is a great mistake, for which someone—I know not who—is responsible.

Floyd, I learn carried with him about ten of the best of the forty guns taken from us at Manassas–the remainder having fallen into our hands.


One of the most sensible proclamations that has been made during the war, was that put out by General Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] when he entered Paducah, Kentucky.  In that proclamation, he laid down his proposition. “I have not come,” said he, to fight opinions; I come to resist treason and to overwhelm it.  I am not here to force opinions upon you. I am here to sustain the Constitution and the supremacy of the laws.

The object and purpose of this war are not for the abolition of  negroes, but to “sustain the constitution and supremacy of the laws.” Not to force opinions upon the rebellious States, but to bring all therin, back to their allegiance to the Government as our fathers formed it.


The correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, writing from Fort Henry, says:

Each day new objects of interest are discovered, and every soldier is speedily supplied with some relic, though it be nothing more than an oyster can.–Where the big rifled gun burst, the noise as of a dozen anvils being smitten is constantly heard. Looking for the cause a half dozen soldiers may be seen hammering away with crow-bars or axes at the fragments of the huge piece scattered around, to obtain a relic. Although this scene has been repeated no for three days, not a particle of the coveted article has been obtained, the metal stubbornly resisting every attack. Other objects of more significant, interest, now begin to claim attention. They are the daily discovery of pits and graves where human bodies, during the battle, were hastily thrown.

This concealment of dead, by sinking them in ponds, and throwing on bags of dirt, or scooping out shallow graves, is a barbarous practice, and noticeable evidence of the deceit a sinking cause needs to practice. One pond has been already made to give up its dead, and twenty mangled bodies drawn forth. Just on side the walls of the fort was a large number of bags of dirt cast into a slongh and spades thrown down where workmen had been hastily employed.  On removing these the hidden bodies were found.  Thirty barrels of whiskey were discovered this morning buried a short distance is the woods, and what more the earth around here conceals may yet be untombed also.  Several of the cannon in Fort Henry, are stamped 1821, and others bear the mark of the makers in Memphis.  In the middle of the fortification are several graves with a fence around, made by weaving some poles together.


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