James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  except by the river and by a road that had been submerged by the river’s overflow. Grant made arrangements for an assault at daybreak the next morning. Hardly a doubt of its success could exist.  12   Inside the fort the general discouragement that prevailed led the Confederate generals to the same opinion. The two ranking officers turned over the command to Buckner. 1 One of them escaped with a number of his troops in two small steamboats that had just arrived with reënforcements; the other crossed the river in a skiff. The cavalry rode out over the submerged road finding the water “about saddle-skirt deep.” 2  13   At an early hour next morning [February 16] Grant received a note from Buckner proposing to capitulate and suggesting an armistice until noon. To this he made his famous reply: “Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.” 3 Buckner was compelled to accept what he called “the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms.” Grant, in his despatch to Halleck of that day, said that he had taken “12,000 to 15,000 prisoners, 20,000 stand of arms, 48 pieces of artillery, 17 heavy guns, from 2000 to 4000 horses, and large quantities of commissary stores.” 4  14   “Judged by its moral and strategical results,” wrote Ropes, “the capture of Fort Donelson was one of the turning points of the war.” 5 It caused the evacuation of Nashville and resulted in a Union advance of more than two hundred miles of territory before the enemy could rally or reorganize. It
Note 1. See III, 592. [back]
Note 2. O. R., VII, 161. [back]
Note 3. Forrest, O. R., VII, 295. [back]
Note 4. O. R., VII, 625. [back]
Note 5. Ropes, II, 34. [back]