At the Battle of Fort Donelson in 1862, things were not going as well for the Union army as Gen. U. S. Grant had hoped in taking the Confederate fort.
At one point he told 55-year-old Gen. C. F. Smith, “General Smith, all has failed on our right—you must take Fort Donelson.”
Smith replied, “I will do it.”
As he led his volunteers to the fort he saw some of his men hesitating. He swung around and said
“Damn you, gentlemen, I see skulkers. I’ll have none here. Come on, you volunteers, come on. This is your chance. You volunteered to be killed for love of your country and now you can be. You are only damned volunteers. I am only a soldier and I don’t want to be killed, but you came to be killed and now you can be.”
He then led them up the wooded slope straight for the Confederate trenches. Men said he was the first man in the works. One of his soldiers wrote that “by his presence and heroic conduct he led the green men to do things that no other man could have done.”
(Source: Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South 169-170)