Speaking softly to each other to avoid disturbing a red-faced companion, valiantly assailing his oft present enemy geometry at a plain desk, they traced on the map with their fingers while the browner lad read.
My dear Fredrick,
Thank Charles for his sense of the honour it was for me to serve. Yes, I was there; in the 3rd Brigade, under Col. John Drake, a subordinate of General Pillow. The 26th Alabama's commanding officer was Major John Garvin. Just an interesting fact that Charles might find interesting (yourself as well, my dear boy): the 26th Alabama was known as O'Neal's Infantry. I believe I mentioned previously that 26th would be opposite Yankee General Lew Wallace's command...but I misspoke. The 26th was directly opposed by Col. William H.L. Wallace--a subordinate of General McClernand. General Wallace did not arrive until the 14th.
Now that that is cleared up, shall I begin with the events of the 13th? Refer to your map.
You will see that the Union positions, left flank to right flank, ran something in a northward, southward line; the left flanking being northward and under the command of General C.F. Smith. He launched the first attack upon Fort Donelson. McClernand, on the right flank also attacked. Neither attack broke through the lads in gray. They stood fast and fought as men should.
General Floyd, who it must be admitted was a politician and not a soldier, arrived at the Fort and took command from General Pillow. I have occasionally wondered if the outcome would have been different if any other General had taken command...
However, "what if" is not a habit I allow myself to indulge in, as you well know, Fredrick. You remember that as well. "What if" does not serve the purpose of going forward with life with the firm assurance of the sovereignty of God. Always remember that, my son, and you will be blessed with peace, even in sorrows.
The Yankee's had one more thing to say on the subject of attack that day. The ironclad steamer Carondelet steamed up and bombarded Fort Donelson. The Confederate cannon on the bluff remained silent. The captain of that ship remarked on the subject that they reminded him "of the dismal-looking sepulchers cut into the rocky cliffs near Jerusalem, but far more repulsive."*
While the primary subject of this letter has been Fort Donelson, I should like to briefly draw your attention to several other happenings of the day.
As I believe I have mentioned, the Confederates were evacuating Bowling Green, Kentucky. A fire there destroyed many buildings.
The Yankee's reoccupied Springfield, Missouri and in the East the Federals headed up Albemarle Canal in North Carolina.
Also of interest, particularly as the Yankee's try to claim moral superiority over the South due to the slavery issue, is that Unionist Western Virginia adopted a provision that: "No slave shall be brought or free person of color come into this State for permanent residence after this Constitution goes into operation."
Interesting, is it not? A state with Northern views barring a man of color from living within it's borders. However, I will let facts speak for themselves and tint your thoughts no further upon that subject at the time being.
The weather at Fort Donelson pitched below freezing again the night of the 13th. Such cold! It is hard to sleep when you are freezing...
*Quote taken from The Civil War (Foote, 202)