“Fort Henry & Donelson Campaign” by Ed Bearss

Here’s the incomparable Ed Bearss on the Forts Henry and Donelson Campaign.  He misspeaks a couple of times, but we can easily figure out what he meant to say.

This was a 2011 presentation at the US Army Heritage and Education Center.  From the video description: “The Union Army scored its first major victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in 1862. Here, Gen. U.S. Grant took the first big step that would take he and his soldiers on to bloody Shiloh, to Chattanooga, and to Vicksburg . Many of the troops who stood with Grant at Donelson were destined to march with Gen. William T. Sherman through Georgia and the Carolinas. The road ahead took Grant from Chattanooga to General-in-Chief and on to Appomattox Court House. In early February, 1862 , Grant moved against Fort Henry on the Tennessee River with an amphibious force supplied by four ironclad gunboats under army administrative control. The fort surrendered on Feb. 6, and Grant boasted that ‘I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th and return to Fort Henry.’ Grant was not able to do so, but Bearss argues that few could. Some 16,000 soldiers defended Fort Donelson, and Grant’s vanguard arrived in front of it on Feb. 12. By the following day, Grant had partially invested the Confederate stronghold. Rebel water batteries defeated Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote and his fleet (four ironclads and two timberclads) on Feb. 14 as they exchanged ‘iron valentines.’ The following day, the Confederates boldly seized the initiative and rolled back the Union right. With victory seemingly in Union grasp and the road to Nashville opened, Grant ordered a counterattack. The Confederates retired into the fort’s perimeter and the next day surrendered unconditionally. The Union had a legitimate hero as Captain Sam Grant morphed into ‘Unconditional Surrender’ Grant.”


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