22, Opinion of one Warren County woman on the Confederate defeat at Fort Donelson, an except from the War Journal of Lucy Virginia French
I cannot remember that I have ever experienced a more gloomy week than that which is just past. on Sunday evening last [16th] when we were all confident of victory at Fort Donelson, the news came that at last we were completely overpowered-that hundreds were killed and thousands made prisoners-that Nashville had surrendered unconditionally-the Federals have taken possession and that our Bowling Green army had fallen back to Murfreesboro! [sic] A deeper shock I never felt,-I gave up the Confederacy as lost. All this week we have been n a state of the utmost anxiety and suspense-not a mail has reached us from any point, and we are dependent altogether on rumors,-of which there are a thousand and all conflicting. Today it seems that we met with disastrous defeat in the end at Donelson by the enemy's overpowering numbers surrounding our men, who fought bravely and well. Gens. Floyd and Pillow escaped with some of the troops,- but Buckner is a prisoner. It is now contradicted that Nashville surrendered, and sent a boat of truce with a flag on it down the Cumberland to meet the enemy and give up the city (!) [sic] as it was at first reported - but it is certain that our troops from Bowling Green have fallen back to Murfreesboro, and they have burnt the bridges, steamboats, etc. at Nashville and not a Yankee near them! Oh! it is disgraceful! Gov. Harris who rode around town alarming the city by saying "Every man must take care of himself; I am going to take care of myself" - Flee - but seeing his mistake has now it is said returned,- saying he is going '"to fight to the death" and that he only ran off to carry away the archives of the State. Well, any excuse I suppose is better than none-but, the fact is that he and Gen. A. L. Johnson [sic] have disgraced themselves and Tennessee by their inefficiency and cowardice. A rumor has been heard that our army would fall back to Chattanooga! I think they had better if Johnson [sic] is to command them, fall down into Mexico at once, and be done with it.-To add to our gloomy feelings the weather has been raw and rain is pouring continually. I never have seen our little river so high and turbid. Today has been a continuous pour of sheets of rain, with high boisterous winds-not a gleam of sunshine except as the sun sank for a few minutes he left a parting light upon the hills. This is the anniversary of the birth of our Great Washington and set apart for the inauguration of Jefferson Davis whom some style the "second Washington." Will he prove himself such? That remains to be seen. If this day is to be ominous of our political future, it will be gloomy indeed. I have been sick all day with one of my dreadful headaches which added to other dark clouds around me to make me desponding; Still, I confess I have much to be thankful for, my children are well - my husband is still with us-may God preserve us thus in peace at home.
War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, February 22, 1862.