Half Title, Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Maps

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xviii

It was quite the scene, as the two old generals sat and enjoyed each other’s company. Veterans had reminisced together many times since the Civil War, but this meeting had more multiple layers of meaning than normal as a dying Ulysses S. Grant visited with one of his oldest friends, Simon Bolivar Buckner. ...

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Prologue

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pp. xix-xxii

Stewart County, Tennessee, is off the beaten path today, bypassed by modern interstates and other transportation routes across the United States. Because of technological advances of the second industrial revolution, aviation and superhighways have left the rural Tennessee county isolated and almost forgotten. ...

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1. “The Keys of the Gate-Way into Her Own Territory”

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pp. 1-22

Had Jefferson Davis been a prophet and able to see into the future, he perhaps would have opposed the move of the Confederate capital to Richmond, Virginia. Having set up a government, established a military, and elected Davis as their provisional president, the Confederate congress soon decided that Montgomery, Alabama, ...

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2. “You Have No Idea How Much Work Is Required to Improvise”

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pp. 23-41

A foreboding feeling settled over Washington, DC, on New Years Day 1862 as Abraham Lincoln confronted just as many difficult issues, and perhaps even more, than his enemies to the south in Richmond. For any advantages he may have held at the beginning, the US military had pitifully little to show for several months of labor. ...

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3. “Too Much Haste Will Ruin Everything”

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pp. 42-65

The year 1861 was proverbial child’s play compared with what was coming in 1862. While the battles of the war’s initial year were every bit as large as those of the Revolution, War of 1812, or Mexican War, they were only minor compared to those that raged later in the war. ...

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4. “We Soon Understood That the Great Western Move Was to Begin”

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pp. 66-89

The Confederate Western Department was in crisis. Having been shaken from his lethargy concerning the twin rivers, Albert Sidney Johnston sent his chief engineer, Jeremy F. Gilmer, on an inspection trip to the forts, the engineer moving from Nashville on January 30 and arriving at Fort Henry the next day. ...

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5. “Alternately Mud and Water All the Way Up”

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pp. 90-107

“[Day] dawned darkly after a thunderstorm,” Lew Wallace wrote of that dreary daylight on February 6, 1862, yet it would be a red-letter day in American history. Numerous factors involved in the offensive effort would culminate this day, not the least of which was pressure from the highest levels of government to do something. ...

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6. “A Good Day’s Work”

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pp. 108-128

February 6, 1862, was destined to be an important day in the annals of the Civil War, but it also portended a major change in larger American and even world history. Troops marching against fortifications on land was nothing new; that occurrence had played out numerous times over many centuries on several continents. ...

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7. “The Entering Wedge to All Our Subsequent Successes”

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pp. 129-153

Congressman Charles B. Sedgwick, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, took the floor of the US House of Representatives on the afternoon of February 7, 1862. He wanted to share the urgent news he had just received from the Navy Department, and the clerk quickly read Flag Officer Foote’s initial report of the capture of Fort Henry, ...

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8. “I Think We Can Take It; at All Events, We Can Try”

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pp. 154-204

Ulysses S. Grant kept a firm eye on his next objective. If the capture of Fort Henry was the key that opened the Confederate heartland, Fort Donelson now took on the next critical role. Action picked up quickly as a result. While Phelps faced little confrontation with the enemy, it was not so with the other major activity going on at the time. ...

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9. “Pretty Well Tested the Strength of Our Defensive Line”

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pp. 205-236

The signs were unmistakable. All through the day on February 12, Grant had encircled almost all of the Southern lines, the exception being the extreme Confederate left near Lick Creek. Likewise, the Union navy appeared on the river and while not offering much of a fight, it still showed itself, as much to the Union army ashore as to the Confederates. ...

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10. “You Are Not at Fort Henry”

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pp. 237-263

If fighting a war was hard work, the armies arrayed around Fort Donelson saw that difficulty compounded exponentially as dawn broke over the Cumberland River valley on February 14. A combination of factors had come together to make the previous night one of the most miserable certainly during the war and perhaps in the lives of almost all involved. ...

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11. “Not Generally Having an Idea That a Big Fight Was on Hand”

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pp. 264-282

“The morning of the 15th dawned clear and hopeful,” John A. McClernand wrote later that month, “and both officers and men, unshaken by another night of intense suffering, stood to their arms, ready for the work of an eventful day.” McClernand may have been unshaken in his comparatively comfortable headquarters, but Illinoisan George Carrington wrote that the men “threw off our snow covered blankets while the chill wintry air penetrated our very bones.” ...

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12. “The Whole Line Just Seemed to Melt Away and Scatter”

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pp. 283-307

John A. McClernand could tell something was amiss by the sounds and then sights of Confederates to his right. “At early dawn this morning,” the general wrote, “he [the enemy] was discovered rapidly moving in large masses to my extreme right.” Even worse, McArthur was falling “back before the pressure of overpowering numbers.” ...

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13. “Up to This Period the Success Was Complete”

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pp. 308-327

Abraham Lincoln was a troubled man, his fifty-third birthday three days before causing him less concern comparatively than his two very sick boys. He was also keeping track of the developments around Fort Donelson as best he could. He received delayed reports from Grant’s expedition, because after Grant sent messages they traveled to Cairo, then to St. Louis, ...

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14. “The One Who Attacks First Now Will Be Victorious”

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pp. 328-350

Into the mass of Federal brigades that were in the process of repelling an equally disfigured mass of Confederate brigades strode perhaps the most important arrival on the Federal right, Ulysses S. Grant. While his presence was not that inspiring, one beaten Federal writing that “he is a savage looking oll cuss,” his determination made up for any other shortcoming. ...

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15. “We Got the Place”

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pp. 351-375

The rainy and cold night of February 15 was anything but calm and peaceful. Like previous nights, brigades were on the move, decisions were being made, and fates were determined as the events at Fort Donelson drove toward a climax. And as usual in this dreary mid-February, it was all done in the worst of cold snaps. ...

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16 “The Trophies of War Are Immense”

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pp. 376-396

The USS Carondelet arrived at Cairo in a heavy fog on February 17, one observer noting the ironclad actually “passed below the town unnoticed, and had great difficulty in finding the landing.” While slowly moving back toward Cairo blowing her whistle, numerous people in the town thought it was a Confederate gunboat raiding from below. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 397-406

Forts Henry and Donelson were watershed events in the Civil War, especially at the specific moment they occurred. As the first meaningful Federal victories, they propelled the Union war effort deeper into the South and galvanized Northern morale. They were also defining moments for the soldiers involved. ...

Appendix A: Fort Henry Order of Battle, February 6, 1862

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pp. 407-410

Appendix B: Fort Donelson Order of Battle, February 12–16, 1862

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pp. 411-416

Notes

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pp. 417-468

Bibliography

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pp. 469-500

Index

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pp. 501-514

Images

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