“General Smith said this order was nonsense. But I told him it was better to obey it.”

Feb 27 1862, “After [Gen.] Nelson had gone [to Nashville] … I sent word to department headquarters that I should go to Nashville myself on the 28th if I received no orders to the contrary. Hearing nothing, I went as I had informed my superior officer I would do. On arriving at Clarksville I saw a fleet of steamers at the shore—the same that had taken Nelson’s division—and troops going aboard. I landed and called on the commanding officer, General C. F. Smith. As soon as he saw me he showed an order he had just received from Buell in these words:

NASHVILLE, February 25, 1862.
Commanding U. S. Forces, Clarksville.
GENERAL:—The landing of a portion of our troops, contrary to my intentions, on the south side of the river has compelled me to hold this side at every hazard. If the enemy should assume the offensive, and I am assured by reliable persons that in view of my position such is his intention, my force present is altogether inadequate, consisting of only 15,000 men. I have to request you, therefore, to come forward with all the available force under your command. So important do I consider the occasion that I think it necessary to give this communication all the force of orders, and I send four boats, the Diana, Woodford, John Rain, and Autocrat, to bring you up. In five or six days my force will probably be sufficient to relieve you.
Very respectfully, your ob’t srv’t,
Brigadier-General Comd’g.
P. S.—The steamers will leave here at 12 o’clock to-night.

General Smith said this order was nonsense. But I told him it was better to obey it. The General replied, “of course I must obey,” and said his men were embarking as fast as they could.”

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt XXIII, p216-7

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