Early in January, 1862, I was directed by General McClellan, through my department commander, to make a reconnoissance in favor of Brigadier-General Don Carlos Buell, who commanded the Department of the Ohio, with headquarters at Louisville, and who was confronting General S. B. Buckner with a larger Confederate force at Bowling Green.
Brackett's battalion was the only Minnesota force engaged at Fort Donelson, and, although they were not in the thickest of the fight, yet they performed tremendous and exhaustive service in preventing the rebel Gen. Buckner from receiving reinforcements.
Gen. Buckner at once surrendered (February 16, 1862), and Grant won the first great Union victory of the war.
General Pillow reported the killed and wounded at 2,000; but he had less opportunity of knowing the actual numbers than the officers of McClernand's division, for most of the killed and wounded fell outside their works, in front of that division, and were buried or cared for by Buckner after the surrender and when Pillow was a fugitive.
I asked General Buckner about what force he had to surrender.