Wednesday 19th [February 1862]
The news from Fort Donaldson is confirmed. We repulsed the enemy for three days but on Sunday the fort was taken. We can learn no particulars yet. It is reported that the enemy captured 15,000 of our troops with Generals Johnson, Pillow and Buckner.
Gen' McClellan is waiting to advance from the Potomac until May when the time of service of our soldiers will have expired and we shall have only raw boys in the field. But our men are all reenlisting. They are not going home at such a time as this. Those that know most about it say that three fourths at least will reenlist.
Will has received an answer from Papa. He says "stay where you are for the present. My family has furnished a large share to the military service, myself, two sons and a son-in-law. You alone are left with an important public trust in your hands, and the care of my large and dependant family." He tells him to join with those that stay at home to form companies and drill so that he may be ready for anything. Will does not entirely agree with him. Says he ought to go for the sake of the example to others. He has written to Papa again. Whatever he does, I shall be satisfied, for I know he will do what is right.
It is strange to see such peace loving and quiet people as Will and Johnny studying every night Gilham's tactical and a work on ordnance.
Johnny joined Commodore Lynch in order to learn something about naval warfare before he gets an appointment as master in the Navy.
He was with Com' Lynch on board the 'Sea Bird' and in the fort at Elizabeth City. When he gave the order to retreat each man held back waiting for the others to start. They all walked away very quietly and respectably. There were not more than twenty in the party.
When they left the Sea Bird and went to the Fort Com' Lynch sent J. to get him a horse and to see if the enemy were landing in their rear as reported. After a long march J. encountered a man galloping in to the town. He pulled out his pistol and seizing the rider's bridle told him that he wanted that horse for the Commodore. The man dismounted without a word of remonstrance, and J. galloped off without even asking his name.
Com' Lynch fought until his ammunition gave out. He had five vessels, the enemy fifteen. The officers and crew of the Sea Bird were captured. John lost all his clothes, everything except the suit he wore.