Thursday, October 18, 2012
I'M GOIN OUT OR BUST HELL WIDE OPEN...
At Fort Donelson the uninspired leadership Southern generals Floyd and Pillow was a recipe for disaster. Soon, after actually winning the first days fighting, there was talk of surrender.
Lt. Colonel Forrest said, "these people are talking about surrendering, and I am goin' out of this place before they do, or bust hell wide open."
Forrest a Lt. Colonel at the time, in command of the garrison's cavalry and men from Kentucky infantry regiments contested Grant's march on the fort. Invaded from the land and attacked by the river flotilla, the only course seemingly left open was a break out to the north. Forrest coordinated the attack with Col. Roger W. Hanson, nick-named "Old Bench Leg," of the 2nd Kentucky infantry regiment.
By mid-morning Forrest was acting on his own without orders. With support of "Old Bench Leg" and the Kentuckians, he attacked. Fifty Kentuckians fell in crossing the open field without firing a rifle. As the Kentuckians began their fire from close range, Forrest and his cavalry charged and took a Federal six-gun battery, the first of many guns to be taken by his command during the war.
As the cavalry fought hand to hand for the Federal battery, Rice E. Graves brought his Kentucky battery forward in support. This combined force of Forrest's cavalry and Kentucky "Orphans" opened "A Way Out" for the surrounded Rebels.