Johnston's right being thus rendered hors de combat, Grant prepared to sunder his center and left by moving down the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers against Forts Henry and Donelson. This compelled him to concentrate the major part of his central army at the threatened strongholds.
The Fourth Mississippi infantry, which had been detached from Van Dorn's division of the army of Northern Virginia, was one of the two regiments at Fort Henry which were at all experienced in war, and the men conducted themselves as veterans. Col. Joseph Drake sent two companies of Mississippians to meet the first advance of the enemy on February 4th, who held the rifle-pits alone until reinforced. During the bombardment of the 6th, which resulted in the surrender of Fort Henry, Colonel Drake commanded a brigade at the rifle-pits, and he subsequently marched his men in good order to Donelson and commanded a brigade during the defense of that post. In the Confederate lines before Donelson, under fire during February 13th and 14th, and in the assault which was made on the 15th for the purpose of opening a line of retreat, the Mississippians were among the most conspicuous for gallantry and steadiness under fire.
The left wing included the First, Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, and Twenty-third, Lieutenant-Colonel Wells, in Davidson's brigade; the Fourth, Major Adair, in Colonel Drake's brigade; the Twentieth, Maj. W. N. Brown, in McCausland's brigade; the Twenty-sixth, Colonel Reynolds, in Baldwin's brigade. Baldwin's own regiment, the Fourteenth, fought under Maj. W. S. Doss in Buckner's command on the right.
Colonel Baldwin's brigade was ready to march, loaded with knapsacks, blankets and three days’ rations, at four o'clock Saturday morning, the 15th, and at six o'clock was ordered forward to the attack. Skirmishers of the Twenty-sixth were soon under fire and driven back, and the regiment deployed into line on the right under heavy