Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/147

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137
General Albert Sidney Johnston.

energy with which he organised the raw levies assembled there and the alacrity with which he moved out against Bragg, and shoved that distinguished officer out of Kentucky, gave him a high reputation with his opponents. Other Federal commanders could press us fiercely when we were crippled, disheartened by disaster and decimated by continuous conflict, but Buell struck us his hardest blows when we were confident and in the full tide of success. He lacked one quality, however, essential to popularity and success in American life, be it civil, political or military: he could not advertise himself; he knew not how to sound one single note on his own trumpet. He was quite inferior in this sort of musical talent to Sherman. This estimate of Buell, which two years more of war taught others, General Johnston already entertained.

On the 6th of February Fort Henry was attacked, and taken after a bombardment of two hours. Indeed, General Tilghman, deeming it indefensible, made no real effort to hold it, but sent off all his command, save some seventy-five men, to Donelson. The victorious Federals advanced to Donelson, so soon as a concentration of all the forces intended for the attack was effected, and on the 12th the place was completely invested. No attempt was made by the Confederate Generals Floyd, Pillow and Buckner to impede the progress of their marching columns. A detailed account of this memorable battle, and of the fall of Donelson, cannot be given here. Colonel Johnston treats the subject ably and fully, and in his account the military student will find some most instructive lessons. The reader cannot rise from its perusal without feeling that what was a terrible Confederate disaster ought to have been a brilliant Confederate success, and that despite the acknowledged skill and gallantry of the Confederate commanders, divided councils, producing their inevitable consequences, vacillation and paralysis of energy, caused defeat.

As a specimen of Colonel Johnston's descriptive powers, the following account of the duel between the fort and the fleet, which resulted in the utter discomfiture of the latter, may be taken: "While the ironclads could use grape and canister against the Confederates on the parapets, and their gunboats were throwing shells at long range, which burst in the fort with novel terrors to the untried soldiers there, nothing but solid shot told against the sides of the vessels. But the furious cannonade of the fleet, while terrific, was harmless, though each moment it seemed that it must sweep away gunners and batteries together. Soldiers and generals alike