Samuel K. Cox (from Ohio County)
This is Union soldier Samuel Cox's account of the capture of Fort Donelson.
I awoke this morning bright and early, half frozen, having slept on the cold ground without any cover save that of the Heavens, and I was almost sorry that I was not wounded on Saturday, for I felt confident that it was my last day, and I am sure that it would have been had we stormed the Fort. At sun-up we received the joyful information that the Fort had surrendered. I supposed we had about 50,000 troops, and one can imagine the noise we made, for cheer after cheer was sent up for miles around. We then marched into the Fort and there was a general stacking of arms. I talked with a great many Southerners and they seemed to think that we had whipped them fairly and were willing to surrender. I met several old acquaintances from Hartford, Ky who appeared to be glad to see me and expressed a wish that I might get through safely. (I say ditto).
We captured from thirteen to twenty thousand prisoners and a great many more made their escape through the night. General Floyd Pillow and Johnston among the rest. General Buckner said he would not go unless he could take his men with him, for they had stood by him and he intended to remain a prisoner with them. (Manly of him) There was an immense amount of army stores and may large guns, the number I do not know. We remained in the Fort but traveled some two miles and camped for the night (The spot we selected being six inches in the mud.)
I have not given, and cannot give a satisfactory account of the battle, for my pen is inadequate to the task. It would take a Clay or a Webster to picture it as it occurred. Nor can anyone who has not seen the horrors of war imagine the scenes presented in that great battle. The groans of the dying and wounded were everywhere. Men were killed in every imaginable way, some with legs blown off, and a number with their heads shot off by cannon balls. It was horrible to behold.
The number of killed and wounded I am as yet ignorant of, but will say at a rough guess, 2,000 killed and as many wounded.
Civil War Diary of Samuel K. Cox
Edited by Dr. Richard J. Reid
Owensboro-Daviess County Public Library Special Collections