Wonderful description and hand drawn diagram of Fort Donel...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionWonderful description and hand drawn diagram of Fort Donelson after it fell to the Union. Written by Charles M. Tyler, Co. C, 15th Illinois Infantry - "When I went on the Battlefield guns, cartridge boxes, bayonets, pistols, etc. were scattered around everywhere".
A 3-page letter in ink comes with the original colorful patriotic envelope it was mailed in and a 5 x 6 inch diagram of Fort Donelson and the surrounding Union troops, including "Grant's Head Quarters". Charles M. Tyler was a resident of Rockford, Illinois and did a fine job making his diagram of the Fort. The letter is headed, "Pittsburgh Landing, Hardin County, Tenn. March 27th, 1862". Having left Fort Donelson, Grant's forces have gone to the site of the next great battle... that of Pittsburgh Landing or "Shiloh", which would be fought on April 6th-7th, 1862. Reads in part:
"We arrived at the Fort about two hours after the surrender and the fighting were all over, and the prisoners were scattered around in groups looking with amazement at Union soldiers, the gun boats, and above all, the crazy little Chicago tugs that were flying around in the river."
"The Fort is a splendid arrangement, everything is built substantial. The Fort takes in perhaps about 10 acres of ground. It is built on a hill commanding the river for two miles. There were a few large cannons inside the Fort, but what they intended to do, their principle fighting with was the heavy siege guns in the water batteries at the foot of the hill. Outside the Fort and on the bank of the river, the parapet being built with sand bags, the inside of both Fort and water batteries are wove with cane which is very nice. There are cabins built inside the Fort and just outside enough of them for 10,000 men to live in, but the most of the Secesh were encamped in the woods inside the fortifications or breastworks and rifle pits which extend for a distance three or four miles around, commencing below the Fort down the river running off into the woods, taking in the Fort and town (Dover), and again coming to the river above the town."
"When I went on the battlefield, guns, cartridge boxes, cap boxes, bayonets, & bayonet scabbards, swords, long bowie knives, pistols, etc. were scattered around everywhere. I suppose you will wonder when I tell you that I got nothing but a good gun, as I could not carry anything. What I am obliged to carry in my knapsack is all I want to carry on my back and march all day."
"...when everything was straightened up at the Fort, quite a large force marched to Fort Henry, 12 miles across the country. I did not have an opportunity to look around any at Fort Henry as we proceeded immediately upon our arrival there to load ourselves on to a boat, the Aleck Scott."
"...everything being in readiness, the fleet started up the Tennessee River. The number of boats belonging to the fleet was 162. So of course you see there is a very large force here, estimated at 75,000 at present and more coming."
An excellent content letter. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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