Voice from the Past: "The Startling Intelligence from Fort Donelson"

Posted: 2/13/2012
Author: Laura June Davis
The Hand-to-Hand Fight Over Schwartz's Battery at Fort Donelson

Good morning! We have another contribution to our Fort Donelson sesquicentennial series. This excerpt is from Alfred Lewis Castleman's diary:

What a week of news, opening on us with intelligence of the capture of Fort Henry, with its list of high-bred prisoners. Scarcely had the sound of the cheers and the hurrahs died away, when Burnside startled us with an artillery discharge of news. To-day, whilst we were brushing out our "hollering organs" with alum swabs, when the startling intelligence from Fort Donelson, the most glorious of which is the capture of the arch-traitor, Floyd; and what a disappointment that not a throat in our whole Division can shout "Hang him!" loud enough for Floyd to hear it. Hold on for awhile; send us no more such news at present. As this poor old "grand-mother" of armies is to do no fighting, wait at least till the throats of our soldiers so far recover that they can do the shouting over victories in which they are denied the privilege of participating. We have lain still here till we have grown into old fogyism -- gone to seed. So little advance, so little progress have we made, within the memory of any here, that should Methuselah offer us to-day a shake of his hand, we should wonder whether it was yesterday or a week ago that we parted from him, so little has been the change here since his advent, and so much would he look like all around him.

: Castleman, Alfred Lewis, "Diary of Alfred Lewis Castleman, February, 1862," in The Army of the Potomac, Behind the Scenes: a Diary of Unwritten History: from the Organization of the Army ... to the Close of the Campaign in Virginia, About the First Day of January, 1863 (Milwaukee: Strickland & Co., 1863).

Image Credit: Harper's Weekly, March 8, 1862.
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