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coming in rapidly, and there were present twenty-two thousand Federals. The Confederates felt that the investment was getting closer and stronger, and they determined to break it. Their generals in council had decided that “ but one course remained by which a rational hope of saving the garrison could be entertained, and that was to drive back the molesting force on the Dover side, and pass their troops into the open country in the direction of Nashville."

Therefore, on the morning of the 15th, ere it was light, they massed heavily on their left and made a fierce attack on the Federal right line where it did not quite reach the river. McArthur's brigade of Smith's division received the first blow. The attack rapidly extended to Oglesby's and W. H. L. Wallace's brigades of McClernand's division and to Cruft's brigade of Wallace's division. The Federals held on tenaciously against the solid masses and great odds of the enemy, seldom leaving their ground till ammunition was exhausted. At length McArthur, after an unequal struggle of hours, gave way, and McClernand's command showed signs of wavering. But it held till reinforced by General Lewis Wallace, when the Confederates were made to pay dearly for all they had gained. This fresh force checked the Confederate onslaught for a time, but it was soon renewed more fiercely than ever. For hours the conflict was hot and doubtful, and though the Federal right was kept intact it was pushed far back from its original position and nearly turned. General Pillow was elated, and sent the following to Johnston at Nashville: “On the honor of a soldier the day is ours."

By nine o'clock Grant came from his interview with Foote. He was met by an aid who told him of the Confederate sortie. Further on he met General C. F. Smith whom he ordered to prepare his left for an attack on the Confederate right. Then he came into contact with his broken and disordered troops. Many of his best officers, Logan, Lawler, Ransom and others

were wounded. Many others were killed, and some of his best regiments and brigades were torn to pieces.

There was now a keen eye on the situation. It took in two things. The Confederates had not pushed their opportunity, if one really existed. Again their knapsacks were loaded with provisions. “They mean to cut their way out: they have no idea of staying here to fight us,” was the conclusion Grant quickly drew. Then he said to those near him, " Whichever party first attacks now will whip, and the rebels will have to be very quick if they beat me."

Galloping to where he had left Smith, he ordered him to assault at once. Assurance was passed to the broken troops that the enemy's attack had been a desperate attempt to cut their way out and not an assault they could repeat.

This was inspiring, and the men fell into place with wonderful alacrity. Word was sent to Foote to form his gunboats in line and make a feint on the water-front. "A terrible conflict," he wrote, “ has ensued in my absence which has demoralized a portion of my command, and I think the enemy is much more so. If the gunboats do not appear it will re-assure the enemy and still further demoralize our troops. I must order a charge to save appearance. I do not expect the gunboats to go into action."

McClernand and Wallace were apprised of Smith's orders to assault, and directed to renew the battle in their front as soon as Smith began. McClernand should push his column clear to the river if possible. Two of the fleet ran up the river and began firing at long range.

By four o'clock in the afternoon all was ready. Smith's active column was composed of Lauman's brigade of five regiments, the Second Iowa Infantry having the lead. He told his men what had to be done. They were soon admonished by the mingled roar of artillery and musketry on the centre and right. Then the column moved, with diffi


culty on account of the underbrush, exposedly on account of the construction of the enemy's works, but directly and vigorously. Onward they pushed in invincible charge through brush and over abattis till they burst over the heights, carried the Confederate lines at the point of the bayonet, and got a secure hold inside the entrenchments.

This was the key to Ft. Donelson.

All around those long lines it “vollied and thundered." Smith's splendid assault was ably seconded by the centre and right. Grant had, with wonderful foresight, arranged it

as to support all the points where progress appeared. Artillery and fresh troops were at the back of those who had won any decided ground. Thus every foot of advance was assured by nightfall, and the beaten and fatigued troops of the morning had recovered lost ground, lost guns, lost spirits.

"Fighting only for nightfall " was Grant's remark, as he saw that the enemy grew less desperate. One hour more of daylight would have won the great victory of the next day. The darkness found the Federal army full of hope, and determined to crown their efforts with still greater glory, when sunrise should permit. All lost ground had been regained, and every hold was firm. A day had been won after a day had been lost. Grant's appearance on the field was the beginning of order and successful “forward march.” That night he slept in a negro hut. Smith's men lay on their arms. They must hold the frozen ground they had won at all hazards.

Inside the fort, Floyd called a council of war. It was a remarkable scene. He broached the propriety of surrender. A majority sentiment favored the act. Buckner said he could not hold out half an hour against Smith. Then Floyd proposed to escape in person, fearing the consequences of becoming a prisoner on account of the prejudices which his previous political career might have engendered. So he turned the command over to Pillow. But Pillow was no better off in this

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