To Henry W. Halleck

Major General Halleck Executive Mansion,
St. Louis, Mo. Washington, Feb. 16, 1862

You have Fort Donelson safe, unless Grant shall be overwhelmed from outside, to prevent which latter will, I think, require all the vigilance, energy, and skill of yourself & Buell, acting in full cooperation. Columbus will not get at Grant, but the the [sic] force from Bowling—Green will. They hold the Railroad from Bowling—Green to within a few miles of Donelson, with the Bridge at Clarksburg [Clarksville] undisturbed. It is unsafe to rely that they will not dare to expose Nashville to Buell. A small part of their force can retire slowly towards Nashville, breaking up the Railroad as they go, and keep Buell out of that city twenty days. Mean time Nashville will be abundantly defended by forces from all South & perhaps from here at Manassas. Could not a cavalry force from Gen. Thomas on the upper Cumberland, dash across, almost unresisted, and cut the Railroad at or near Knoxville, Tenn.? In the midst of a bombardment at Donnelson, why could not a Gunboat run up and destroy the Bridge at Clarksburg [Clarksville]? Our success or failure at Donnelson is vastly important; and I beg you to put your soul in the effort. I send a copy to Buell.

A. LINCOLN

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