Friday, February 17, 2012

Fort Donelson Retrospective

The fall of Fort Donelson and the surrender of Fort Henry 10 days prior forced the Confederate States to relinquish hopes of controlling middle and western Tennessee by contributing to the Union victory at Nashville.  The Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, along with the key roads and railways in the area, became vital supply routes that opened the heartland of the Confederacy to Union attacks.

Perhaps as important was the success of the young Brig. General U.S. Grant which was wildly acclaimed throughout the Union newspapers.  It is said that Grant, who was an avid pipe smoker, received 10,000 victory cigars from admiring citizens and elected to give up his pipe in favor of the cigar that became a part of his image.  When pressed for terms of surrender by his long time friend Gen. Buckner, Grant said that only an unconditional and immediate surrender would be accepted, thus providing another aspect of his public persona- the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

Grant's victories did not, however, receive universal commendation.  Lincoln's commander in the western theatre, Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck, was fighting the war from his hotel suite in St. Louis, MO and became frustrated at delays in the receipt of Grants reports.  Historic lore blames a Confederate sympathizer in the Cairo, IL telegraph office, but Halleck intended to relieve Grant of his command responsibilities. Grant was ordered to return to Fort Henry to await resupply.  The 17th made that journey with Grant and were camped at Fort Henry until deployed to a patchwork of small farms in southern Tennessee on the western bank of the Tennessee River.


  1. Enjoyable reading. I feel like I was right there.


  2. Making my way through your posts. I made use of some of your information in my own blog,
    Thank you!