Nearly 1,000 soldiers on both sides had been killed, with about 3,000 wounded still on the field; some froze to death in the snowstorm, many Union soldiers having thrown away their blankets and coats.
Generals Floyd and Pillow were somehow happy about the day's performance and wired General Johnston at Nashville that they had won a great victory. Buckner, however, argued that they were in a desperate position that was getting worse because Union reinforcements were arriving. At their final council of war in the Dover Hotel at 1:30 a.m. on February 16, he stated that if C.F. Smith attacked again, he could only hold out 30 minutes, and he estimated that the cost of defending the fort would be 75% casualties. Buckner's defeatism carried the meeting. And large-scale escape would be difficult—most of the river transports were currently transporting wounded men to Nashville and could not return in time.
Floyd came to realize that he was about to be captured and face justice in the North. He turned over his command to General Pillow, who also feared Northern reprisals and gave it in turn to General Buckner, who agreed to remain behind and surrender the army. Pillow escaped by small boat across the Cumberland in the night, Floyd the next morning on a steamer with two regiments of Virginia infantry. Disgusted at this show of cowardice, Nathan Bedford Forrest heatedly said, "I did not come here to surrender my command," and stormed out, leaving with his 700 men. They traveled toward Nashville through the shallow, icy waters of Lick Creek.
On the morning of February 16, Buckner sent a note to Grant requesting an armistice and terms of surrender. The note first reached General Smith. Smith stated "I'll make no terms with Rebels with arms in their hands-my terms are unconditional and immediate surrender". When the note finally reached Grant Smith again told Grant "no terms to the Rebels". Buckner had expectations that Grant would offer generous terms because of their...