Decision in the Heartland
The Civil War in the West
The western campaigns cost the Confederacy vast territories, the manufacturing of Nashville, the financial center of New Orleans, communication hub Corinth, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, along with the breadbasket of the Confederacy.
After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson. On February 16, 1862, after the failure of their all-out attack aimed at breaking through Grant's investment lines, the fort's 12,000-man garrison surrendered unconditionally.
This was a major victory for Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and a catastrophe for the South. It ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Grant received a promotion to major general for his victory and attained stature in the Western Theater, earning the nom de guerre "Unconditional Surrender."
Principal Commanders: Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and Flag-Officer A.H. Foote [US]; Brigadier General John B. Floyd, Brigadier General Gideon Pillow, and Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner [CS]
Forces Engaged: Army in the Field [US]; Fort Donelson Garrison [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 17,398 total (US 2,331; CS 15,067)
"The 'Carondelet' Fighting Fort Donelson, February 13, 1862."
Line engraving after a sketch by Rear Admiral Henry Walke, published in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War".
Walke commanded USS Carondelet in this action, the initial warship bombardment of Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, Tennessee.
Grant Takes Command
1863 - 1865
The enigmatic commander in chief of the Union forces through the last year and a half of the Civil War. It is both a revelatory portrait of Ulysses S. Grant and the dramatic story of how the war was won.
The morning of February 14 dawned cold and quiet. Early in the afternoon a furious roar broke the stillness, and the earth began to shake. Andrew H. Foote's Union gunboat fleet, consisting of the ironclads St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Corondolet, and the timberclads Conestoga and Tyler, had arrived from Fort Henry via the Tennessee and Ohio rivers and were exchanging "iron valentines" with the eleven big guns in the Southern water batteries. During this one and one-half hour duel the Confederates wounded Foote and inflicted such extensive damage upon the gunboats that they were forced to retreat. The hills and hollows echoed with cheers from the Southern soldiers.
The Confederate generalsJohn Floyd, Gideon Pillow, Simon Buckner, and Bushrod Johnsonalso rejoiced; but sober reflection revealed another danger. Grant was receiving reinforcements daily and had extended his right flank almost to Lick Creek to complete the encirclement of the Southerners. If the Confederates did not move quickly, they would be starved into submission. Accordingly, they massed their troops against the Union right, hoping to clear a route to Nashville and safety. The battle on February 15 raged all morning, the Union army grudgingly retreating step by step. Just as it seemed the way was clear, the Southern troops were ordered to return to their entrenchmentsa result of confusion and indecision among the Confederate commanders. Grant immediately launched a vigorous counterattack, retaking most of the lost ground and gaining new positions as well. The way of escape was closed once more.
Floyd and Pillow turned over command of Fort Donelson to Buckner and slipped away to Nashville with about 2,000 men. Others followed cavalryman Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest across swollen Lick Creek. That morning, February 16, Buckner asked Grant for terms. Grant's answer was short and direct: "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." Buckner surrendered.
Soon after the surrender, civilians and relief agencies rushed to assist the Union army. The U.S. Sanitary Commission was one of the first to provide food, medical supplies, and hospital ships to transport the wounded. Many civilians came in search of loved ones or to offer support. Although not officially recognized as nurses, women such as Mary Bickerdyke cared for and comforted sick and wounded soldiers.
With the capture of Fort Donelson and its sister fort, Henry, the North had not only won its first great victory, it had also gained a new hero"Unconditional Surrender" Grant, who was promoted to major general. Subsequent victories at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga would lead to his appointment as lieutenant general and commander of all Union armies. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox would send Grant to the White House.
After the fall of Fort Donelson, the South was forced to give up southern Kentucky and much of Middle and West Tennessee. The Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, and railroads in the area, became vital Federal supply lines. Nashville was developed into a huge supply depot for the Union army in the west. The heartland of the Confederacy was opened, and the Federals would press on until the "Union" became a fact once more.
Standard Catalog of
Civil War Firearms
Over 700 photographs and a rarity scale for each gun, this comprehensive guide to the thousands of weapons used by Billy Yank and Johnny Reb will be indispensable for historians and collectors.
The Untold Story of Shiloh:
The Battle and the Battlefield
Fought in south central Tennessee, north of Corinth, Mississippi, the battle showed the nation that the Civil War would be long and difficult. The Battle of Shiloh opened up the western Confederacy to the Union invasion that would ultimately prove its undoing