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ordered to advance on Bowling Green, and on that day marched to Camp Madison, one mile north of the river; where receiving confirmatory information of the retreat of the rebel forces, they hastened forward.
Thursday morning, February 13 th, the division—infantry, cavalry, and artillery, left Camp Madison for Bowling Green, forty-two miles distant, and made twenty miles the first day. The railroad appeared to be but little injured, but all the buildings were destroyed. The roads the first day were in splendid order, but much obstructed by trees, which were, however, speedily removed by two companies of mechanics and engineers, who swung their axes with energy, and were never delayed over fifteen minutes by any impediment. The ponds along the road were filled with dead horses and cattle, so long as any cattle were to be found to fill tbem. The troops rested at noon at Cave City, which was very nearly destroyed. On the second day they started again for Bowling Green. The next morning was cold, with about an inch and a half of snow, but they were up betimes and on their way, the Nineteenth Elinois ahead as usual, with her blue flag waving triumphantly. The road was obstructed, and filled with signs of the rapid retreat of Hindman's forces.
Hearing repeatedly that the railroad bridge over Barren river was destroyed, and that the Confederates would not stand this side of the river, Colonel Turchin ordered the cavalry and one battery ahead. The ranks opened to the right and left, and Captain Loomis' battery dashed by in fine style toward Bowling Green. The men hearing the cannon roar, hurried on, and reached the banks of the river opposite Bowling Green, about two o'clock, making the forty-two miles in about thirtyseven hours. After the firing commenced they seized every team along the road, and had the knapsacks drawn by horses the rest of the way, much to the relief of tired shoulders. General Turchin fired the first shell into the town, and immediately three regiments were seen scampering to the cars, and putting off in great confusion.
But though within a mile of Bowling Green, they were powerless to interfere, for there was Barren river, wide and unfordable, between them, and both bridges destroyed. The Texan Rangers soon began to fire all the public buildings. Fifty men under Captain Scott, got ready to cross in a little skiff by parties, and try to drive out the few who remained to perform this work, but the General would not allow it. They then pitched their tents and prepared to wait until a bridge could be erected. When snugly tucked in their blankets, the assembly beat to arms, and the brigade was soon in ranks. They expected to march to town, but were put on the back track some three miles.
They left the main road, and soon came to the river, where they built fires and rested as well as possible. Here the repairs of an old wherry were completed, and they crossed the river, protected by artillery. There was a slight snow falling, and it was uncomfortably cold. The Nineteenth and Twenty-fourth, Hecker's Illinois, crossed first. The men suffered intensely from cold, but declared that they had rather be shot than frozen, and pushed on. But no enemy appeared, and the tired soldiers soon surrounded the fires, some of which had been burning for several days. All the public buildings and several warehouses, filled with pork, beef, coffee, etc., were destroyed. A pile of grain thirty feet by twenty, was burning when the Federal troops arrived. Four engines and several cars were also burnt. The cars had been carrying away provision for a week, but still immense quantities were destroyed. Boxes of guns, large numbers of bowie-knives roughly fashioned of iron, every conceivable kind of shooting apparatus, and all sorts of hardware for cooking and other uses were found in immense quantities.
Bowling Green is a town of considerable commercial importance, and possesses many large stores and warehouses. The majority of the inhabitants were loyal in their sentiments, though many influential citizens sympathized with the rebellion; but when the work of destruction commenced, no discrimination was allowed, and all were made sufferers. The unexpected arrival of General Mitchell's army, and the terror of his artillery, drove the rebels from the town before their incendiary intentions were fully consummated, and much private property was saved which would else have been consumed by the flames.
When General Buckner was exercising military sovereignty in southern Kentucky, one of his proclamations demanded that every man in Wright county should deliver to him at his headquarters, one gun, or twenty dollars in money, under the penalty of fifty dollars' fine, or ninety days' imprisonment. In response to this edict, a motley collection of old squirrel and shot guns were added to the Confederate stores, and with other treasures were packed in buildings at Bowling Green. A hasty evacuation of that stronghold having become a "military necessity," these buildings were fired by the retreating rebels, and among the ruins which met the curious gaze of General Mitchell's men when they entered the town, were scattered piles of the iron parts of these guns, in several places a foot thick.
OAPTUEE OP POET DONELSON.
February 13-16, 1862.
Bravely as the army of the West had sustained the honor of the Union, the crowning glory of taking Fort Donelson remained to be accomplished. To attack a strongly-defended fort, formidable by nature
and rendered almost impregnable by military art, was a work of extreme danger, nay, of impossibility to less resolute men.
The relative positions of Fort Henry and Donelson, the former on the Tennessee river and the latter on the Cumberland, should be clearly understood, in order to comprehend the difficulties of this undertaking.
Fort Henry had been occupied by Federal troops, and it became necessary to effect the reduction of Fort Donelson, in order to open the river to the navigation of the national flotilla, and to reach Nashville, the capital of Tennessee.
The surrender of Fort Henry took place on the 6th of February. One of the gunboats, the Essex, being disabled, was obliged to return to Cairo for repairs, while the Lexington, Conestoga and Tyler, returned to the Ohio, in order to reach the Cumberland river to make the ascent to Fort Donelson. Commodore Foote having completed his preparations, left Cairo on the 11th of February for the scene of action—the Carondelet having previously been sent forward to reconnoitre the position.
On the same day General Grant issued his orders for the movement of the land forces in two divisions, on the following morning. The distance from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson across the land lying between the two rivers, is fourteen miles. There are several roads running from Fort Henry to Dover, near which Fort Donelson was situated. The divisions were disposed by brigades, one of which was to be thrown into Dover to cut off the retreat of the enemy, if attempted by that route.
Fort Donelson takes its name from Andrew Jackson Donelson, a citizen of Tennessee, and its construction was commenced as early as May, 1861. It occupied the best position for defence on the Cumberland river, standing on the summit of a fine slope, rising to the height of one hundred and fifty feet from the river, on its right bank, and mounted sixteen guns. There were two water-batteries, one of which was about twenty or thirty feet above the river, and defended by nine pieces, eight thirty-two-pound guns, and one ten-inch columbiad. The second was some sixty feet above, and was mounted with one ten-inch columbiad, and two thirty-two pound carronades.
Both these batteries were sunken or excavated in the hill-side. In the lower one, strong traverses were left between the guns, to secure them against an enfilading fire. The elevation above the water at the time of the gunboat attack, gave them a fine command of the river, and made the task of attacking them in front an arduous one. The range of the guns in arc, was, however, quite limited.
The third occupied the summit of the hill, and mounted four 128pound guns. The camp was behind the fort on the hill, but within range of gunboats on the river.