The weather was bitterly cold and, as the soldiers of General Smith's division lay tentless and fireless along this ridgeline the night of February 15, 1862, an icy wind made sleep impossible. They occupied trenches that only that morning formed the right flank of the Confederate defenses. Now, having driven the Confederates off this ridge across the ravine (behind you), and onto the next ridge, they anxiously awaited daylight to resume the battle. But there would be no more fighting.
In the morning, just after daybreak, the sound of a bugle from within Fort Donelson announced a Confederate officer with a letter from General Buckner to General Grant requesting "the appointment of commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation of the forces and fort under my command." When the final surrender was announced, Lauman's brigade was given the honor of being the first Union troops to march into the captured fort - reward for their performance in the February 15 attack.
Lauman's Brigade consisted of the following regiments:
Second Iowa Infantry
Seventh Iowa Infantry
Fourteenth Iowa Infantry
Twenty-fifth Indiana Infantry
The soldiers of both armies suffered from the bitter winter weather. The Union soldiers, however, were less able to cope with conditions because some had thrown away their winter gear on the 12-mile march from Fort Henry when the weather turned unseasonably warm. Once at Donelson, however, they were plagued with rain, snow, and sleet, and bone chilling cold. Both Union and Confederate soldiers suffered frost bite and even death.