66 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
THE REGIMENT LEAVING THE STATE.
ITS ARRIVAL AT FORT DONELSON.
The regiment had been in camp over one month, which time was actively and daily occupied in drill, target shooting, making scouts, enclosing an enemy in imagination in some ravine; or in the early morn, before the dawn of day, hurrying out of their tents at the sound of the "long roll," and through snow and over ice would make a short scout and drill and return to camp before breakfast hour. The men began earnestly to desire to see and take part in the more active operations of the field, and try the reality of war. Our arms at several important points had been successful. The glorious news of the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River had reached the North, and the regiment almost feared the war would end without having any part in it.
Gen. Grant was moving up the Cumberland with gun boats, and a land force from Fort Henry, to attack Fort Donelson, which was the gate to Nashville and Middle Tennessee. On the evening of the 10th of February 1862, Colonel Leggett received orders to proceed with the regiment next morning to Paducah, Kentucky. That night was busy with preparations for leaving. Friends came in throngs to bid the regiment adieu, and look for the last time, as it afterwards proved to many, upon a dear son, a brother, a husband and friend. The soldiers slept in hope, and next morning rose refreshed and eager, with intense anxiety to commence their journey; very soon "strike tents" was sounded by the bugle and in a short time all was in readiness; the camp equipage taken to the depot, and the men marched to the city. Owing to the inclemency of the weather, the regiment halted upon the bridge, and awaited the arrival of the trains. About 4 P. M. the cars were reported ready, and soon the regiment was on its way, arriving at Cincinnati next forenoon, and then embarked upon two steamers for Paducah. Lieutenant-Colonel Hawks taking command of the left wing upon one boat, and Colonel Leggett the right wing upon the other. That night was made terribly disagreeable by a severe storm of wind and snow; the right wing was compelled, in consequence to anchor till morning. The left wing being on a better boat, was able to push forward till morning, when seeing nothing of the other boat, anchored for two or three hours; learning some mishap had befallen the right wing the boat turned about and steamed up stream in search; in a few hours the boats met, and then pushed on to Paducah, where they arrived in the afternoon of the same day.
Fighting had commenced at Fort Donelson. Colonel Leggett received orders to draw five day's rations, and proceed with his regiment to the field of action immediately. The boats were soon on their way up the rapid flowing Cumberland. Several boats were met on the way, returning from the place of bloody conflict, each of which was hailed for tidings. The answer of all was the same. "Fighting like h—l." The regiment began to appear more serious; some restless with anxiety, wishing to get on to take part in the battle, while others were restless with dread and trembling, as every moment brought them nearer the scene of bloody strife and death. The regiment arrived within full view of the enemy's works, and anchored in the midst of the fleet, about an hour before sundown. The fight for the day had nearly subsided. One gunboat was up the stream a few rods, throwing an occasional shell. The writer with some officers got permission to go ashore; we went immediately nearer the field of active engagement, to ascertain how matters stood. Here we saw for the first time the burial of the dead on the field of battle, which impressed
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