1862 February 15th

February 15 1862 Saturday

Battle of Fort Donelson, TN

Burnside’s Expedition to North Carolina
Siege of Fort Donelson
Sibley’s Operations in New Mexico

Go to February 16 1862

Georgia. The Confederate side-wheeler Ida ran up the South Channel of the Savannah River past the extinguished lighthouse on Tybee Island and returned to Savannah through Tybee Creek. The Union battery at Venus Point was uncovered and Confederate gunboats engaged in recurring gunnery duels. Four Confederate gunboats under Commodore Josiah Tattnall assisted the passage of Ida by attacking the Union batteries at Venus Point on the Savannah River but they were forced back to Savannah.

Kentucky. Bowling Green occupied.

Mississippi. An expedition began from Cairo, Illinois, to Eastport by Union gunboats under the command of Lieutenant William Gwin USN (USS Tyler)

Missouri. Skirmish at Flat Creek.

Tennessee. Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard left Nashville and headed for western Tennessee to take command of the troops west of the Tennessee River. This force had been cut off from the main army of General Albert Sidney Johnston by the fall of Fort Donelson.

Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Confederate commander Brigadier-General John Buchanan Floyd had achieved part of his mission by occupying the attention of the Union army at Fort Donelson while the main Confederate army retreated to safety from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Nashville. The head of General Albert Sidney Johnston’s column was already in Nashville while the remainder was approaching the city under Major-General William Joseph Hardee.
The second part of Floyd’s mission was to extricate his garrison from Fort Donelson in order to join forces with Johnston. At a council of war, he announced a repeat of the breakout from Fort Donelson using the same plan that had been agreed upon the day before, then following an escape route towards Clarksville and from there to Nashville. The plan was for Brigadier-General Gideon Johnson Pillow’s division to push the division of Union Brigadier-General John Alexander McClernand out of the way. The rest of the army would follow through the breakthrough area. Confederate Brigadier-General Simon Bolivar Buckner would move his division across the Wynn’s Ferry Road and become the rear guard for the remainder of the army as it withdrew eastwards from Fort Donelson.
The Confederates launched a dawn assault by Pillow’s division as planned against McClernand’s division on the right flank of the Union line south of Dover. Buckner’s division was pulled back in the north to cover the rear of the withdrawing troops and a lone regiment (30th Tennessee Infantry) was designated to stay in the trenches to deter pursuit. The Union troops were not caught by surprise because they had been unable to sleep in the freezing weather. Union Brigadier-General Ulysses Simpson Grant had departed downriver before dawn to visit the wounded Captain Andrew Hull Foote USN on his flagship. Grant left orders that none of his generals was to initiate an engagement, but he had not designated a deputy to command in his absence.
The Confederate attack started well and after two or three hours of heavy fighting, Pillow’s men had pushed McClernand out of the way and opened up a gap for the escape route. The Union 11th Illinois Infantry was surrounded by the attackers but cut its way out with a loss of more than half its strength, and their commander Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Greenfield Ransom was wounded. The attack was successful partly because of the poor positioning of McClernand’s troops, and partly because of a flanking attack by dismounted Confederate cavalry under Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Union brigades of Colonel Richard James Oglesby and Colonel John McArthur were hit hardest and they withdrew in reasonable order to regroup and resupply.
McClernand sent messengers to call for assistance from Brigadier-General Lewis Wallace but Wallace was reluctant to act in contradiction to the orders he had been given by Grant not to move from his present position. McClernand’s withdrawal had not yet become a rout but his division was sliding away to the left and exposing the right flank of Wallace’s division. Ammunition was running out. However, all was not well with the Confederate advance. By 9.30 am, as the Union brigades were falling back, Forrest urged Brigadier-General Bushrod Rust Johnson to launch an all-out attack on these disorganised troops. Johnson was too cautious to approve a general assault but he did agree to keep the infantry moving slowly forward.
Two hours into the battle Pillow, realised that Buckner’s wing was not attacking alongside his own. After a confrontation between the two generals, Buckner’s troops moved and combined with the right flank of Pillow’s wing to hit Colonel William Hervey Lamm Wallace’s brigade. A second messenger arrived at Wallace’s headquarters, crying, “Our right flank is turned! The whole army is in danger!” Wallace finally released one of his brigades under Colonel Charles Cruft to aid McClernand. Cruft’s brigade replaced Oglesby’s and McArthur’s in the line, but as they realised they were already being outflanked, they too began to fall back. Buckner’s delay had allowed just enough time for Lewis Wallace to reinforce McClernand and to prevent a rout.
The Confederate offensive halted at around 12.30 pm when Colonel John Milton Thayer’s Union brigade formed a defensive line on a ridge astride Wynn’s Ferry Road. The Confederates assaulted this position three times unsuccessfully and then they withdrew to a ridge half a mile distant. At this point, they had already pushed the Union defenders back for one to two miles and achieved their objective of opening an escape route.
Grant, who apparently could not hear the sounds of battle, was eventually notified by an aide. He galloped seven miles over icy roads to reach Wallace’s headquarters by 1 pm and was dismayed to find confusion and an absence of leadership. Grant sent word back to Foote to start a demonstration of naval gunfire, if only for encouragement. Grant was reassured by the steady bearing of Brigadier-General Charles Ferguson Smith’s division and most of Wallace’s division but McClernand’s division was disorganised, out of ammunition, and unsteady.
By 1.30 pm Floyd had become confused by the timid advice of Bucker and the rash counsel of Pillow. Floyd could have continued to march through the opening to escape to Clarksville or he could reinforce the attack and achieve an even greater victory. Instead, he hesitated and disputed with his two commanders. Siding first with Buckner, who intended to hold his ground to keep the door ajar, Floyd vacillated. To the surprise of Floyd and Buckner, Pillow made Floyd’s decision for him. Fearing that Smith’s Union division was being heavily reinforced in his rear, he urged caution and recommended that #the entire force should fall back to safety inside the lines of Fort Donelson. He ordered his own and Buckner’s men back to their trenches where they could regroup and re-supply before considering another attempt to escape.
Grant learned that some of Buckner’s men were fighting with knapsacks filled with three days of rations, which implied a long march and an attempt to escape the siege. He decided to exploit the opening afforded by the lull in the fighting caused by Floyd’s indecision. He ordered McClernand’s men to obtain more ammunition and to return to the action and he sent orders to Smith on the northern flank to advance and take Fort Donelson, deducing that the Confederates must have thinned their lines on that front for the breakout. Smith formed his two remaining brigades for the attack. Colonel Jacob Gartner Lauman’s brigade made the main attack, spearheaded by Colonel James Tuttle’s 2nd Iowa Infantry. Colonel John Cook’s brigade was in support to the right and rear and they made a feint to draw fire away from Lauman’s brigade. Smith’s advance quickly overran the outer line of entrenchments on the Confederate right, where the 500 men of the 30th Tennessee under Colonel John W Head had been left as a final rearguard. Despite repeated counterattacks over two hours by troops from Buckner’s returning division, the Confederates could not repel Smith from the captured lines.
On the Union right, Lewis Wallace formed an attacking column with three brigades, one from his own division, one from McClernand’s, and one from Smith’s. Wallace’s old brigade from Smith’s Division, now commanded by Colonel Morgan Lewis Smith, was chosen to lead the attack. The brigades of Cruft (of Wallace’s Division) and Colonel Leonard Fulton Ross (of McClernand’s Division) were placed in support on the flanks. Morgan Smith’s brigade advanced a short distance uphill, repeatedly rushing and then falling to the ground in the prone position. Wallace’s troops charged more impetuously and succeeded in retaking all the ground lost that morning during Pillow’s attack. By nightfall, all of the Confederate troops had been driven back to their original positions. Two damaged gunboats arrived late in the day to aid the successful retention of the captured siege lines.
The Union army was now poised to seize both Fort Donelson and its river batteries as soon as daylight dawned. Grant began planning to resume his assault in the morning, although he neglected to seal the escape route that Pillow had already opened once. Nearly 1,000 soldiers on both sides had been killed, with about 3,000 wounded; some froze to death in the snowstorm as many of the inexperienced Union soldiers had thrown away their blankets and coats earlier in the campaign.


Union Department of the Missouri: Major-General Henry Wager Halleck
District of Cairo: Brigadier-General Ulysses Simpson Grant
1st Division, Cairo (Missouri): Brigadier-General John Alexander McClernand
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel Richard James Oglesby
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel William Harvey Lamb Wallace
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel William R Morrison, (WIA), Colonel Leonard F Ross
4th Brigade, 1st Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel James Dada Morgan (At Bird’s Point, Missouri)
2nd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Brigadier-General Charles Ferguson Smith

1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel John McArthur
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Brigadier-General Eleazar Arthur Paine (At Cairo, Illinois)
3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel John Cook

4th Brigade, 2nd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel Jacob Gartner Lauman
5th Brigade, 2nd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel Morgan Lewis Smith
3rd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Brigadier-General Lewis Wallace
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel Charles Cruft
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Attached to 3rd Brigade
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cairo (Missouri): Colonel John Milton Thayer

Western Gunboat Flotilla: Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote USN (WIA): USS St Louis, USS Carondelet, USS Louisville, USS Pittsburg, USS Tyler, USS Conestoga, USS Lexington

Confederate Western Department: General Albert Sidney Johnston
First Geographical Division: Major-General Leonidas Polk
Fort Donelson, First Geographical Division (Western): Brigadier-General Gideon Johnson Pillow, Brigadier-General John Buchanan Floyd, Brigadier-General Simon Bolivar Buckner
Buckner’s Division, First Geographical Division (Western): Brigadier-General Simon Bolivar Buckner
Baldwin’s 2nd Brigade, Buckner’s Division, First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel William Edwin Baldwin
Brown’s 3rd Brigade, Buckner’s Division, First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel John C Brown
Johnson’s Command, First Geographical Division (Western): Brigadier-General Bushrod Rust Johnson
Heiman’s Brigade, Johnson’s Command, First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel A Heiman
Davidson’s Brigade, Johnson’s Command, First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel T J Davidson, Colonel J M Simonton
Drake’s Brigade, Johnson’s Command, First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel Joseph Drake
Floyd’s Division (“Army of the Kanawha”), First Geographical Division (Western): Brigadier-General John Buchanan Floyd
Wharton’s 1st Brigade, Floyd’s Division (“Army of the Kanawha”), First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel Gabriel Colvin Wharton
McCausland’s 2nd Brigade, Floyd’s Division (“Army of the Kanawha”), First Geographical Division (Western): Colonel John McCausland
Cavalry Brigade (First Geographical Division): Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest

Union Organisation

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln
Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin
Secretary of War: Edwin McMasters Stanton
Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

North Atlantic Blockading Squadron: Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron: Samuel Francis Du Pont
West Gulf Blockading Squadron: David Glasgow Farragut
East Gulf Blockading Squadron: William McKean
Pacific Squadron: Charles H Bell
Western Gunboat Flotilla: Andrew Hull Foote
Potomac Flotilla: Robert Harris Wyman

General–in-Chief: George Brinton McClellan

Department of Florida: Lewis Golding Arnold

Department of Kansas: David Hunter

Department of Key West: John Milton Brannan awaited

Department of the Missouri: Henry Wager Halleck

  • District of West Tennessee: Ulysses Simpson Grant awaited
  • District of Cairo: William Tecumseh Sherman
  • District of St Louis: John McAllister Schofield
  • District of Central Missouri: James Totten
  • District of North Missouri: John McAllister Schofield
  • District of Southeast Missouri: Ulysses Simpson Grant
  • District of Southwest Missouri: Samuel Ryan Curtis
    • Army of the Southwest: Samuel Ryan Curtis

Department of New England: Benjamin Franklin Butler

Department of New Mexico: Edward Richard Sprigg Canby

  • Southern District of New Mexico: Benjamin Stone Roberts

Department of New York: Edward Denison Morgan

Department of North Carolina: Ambrose Everett Burnside

Department of the Ohio: Don Carlos Buell

  • Army of the Ohio: Don Carlos Buell

Department of the Pacific: George Wright

  • District of the Humboldt: Francis James Lippitt
  • District of Oregon: Albemarle Cady
  • District of Southern California: James Henry Carleton

Department of the Potomac: George Brinton McClellan

  • District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland: Frederick West Lander
  • Army of the Potomac: George Brinton McClellan

Department of Texas: Vacant

Department of Virginia: John Ellis Wool

Department of Western Virginia: William Starke Rosecrans

  • District of the Kanawha: Jacob Dolson Cox
  • Cheat Mountain District: Robert Huston Milroy
  • Railroad District: Benjamin Franklin Kelley

Confederate Organisation

CSA: William Wing Loring promoted Major-General PACS 15 February 1862 to rank from 17 February 1862.

Commander in Chief: President Jefferson Finis Davis
Vice-President: Alexander Hamilton Stephens
Secretary of War: Judah Philip Benjamin
Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Russell Mallory

Military Adviser to the President: Vacant

Department No 1: Mansfield Lovell

Department of Alabama and West Florida: Braxton Bragg

  • Army of Pensacola: Samuel Jones
  • Army of Mobile: John Bordenave Villepigue

Department of Henrico: John Henry Winder

Department of the Indian Territory: Douglas Hancock Cooper

Department of Norfolk: Benjamin Huger

  • District of Albemarle: Henry Alexander Wise awaited

Department of North Carolina: Richard Caswell Gatlin

  • District of Cape Fear: Joseph Reid Anderson
  • District of Pamlico: Lawrence O’Bryan Branch
  • District of Roanoke Island: Henry Marchmore Shaw

Department of Northern Virginia: Joseph Eggleston Johnston

  • District of Aquia: Robert Augustus Toombs
  • Army of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
    • I Corps Potomac: James Longstreet
    • II Corps Potomac: Gustavus Woodson Smith
  • Valley District: Thomas Jonathan Jackson
    • Army of the Valley: Thomas Jonathan Jackson

Department of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

  • Army of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

Department of South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida: Robert Edward Lee

  •  District of Middle and East Florida: William Montgomery Gardner
  • District of Georgia: Alexander Robert Lawton
  • District of South Carolina: Roswell Sabine Ripley
    • 1st Sub-District of South Carolina: Arthur Middleton Manigault.
    • 2nd Sub-District of South Carolina: Roswell Sabine Ripley
    • 3rd Sub-District of South Carolina: Nathan George Evans
    • 4th Sub-District of South Carolina: John Clifford Pemberton
    • 5th Sub-District of South Carolina: Thomas Fenwick Drayton

Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring

  • District of Lewisburg: Henry Heth

Department of Texas: Paul Octave Hébert

  • Eastern District of Texas: Paul Octave Hébert
  • Western District of Texas: Henry Eustace McCullough
  • District of Galveston: Ebenezer B Nichols
  • District of Houston: John Creed Moore
  • Defences of Pass Cavallo: John W Glenn

Western Department: Albert Sidney Johnston

  • First Geographical Division: Leonidas Polk
  • Trans-Mississippi District: Earl Van Dorn
  • District of East Tennessee: George Bibb Crittenden
  • Army of Central Kentucky: William Joseph Hardee
  • Army of Eastern Kentucky: Humphrey Marshall
  • Army of the West: Benjamin McCulloch interim Earl Van Dorn awaited

District of Arizona: Henry Hopkins Sibley

  • Army of New Mexico: Henry Hopkins Sibley

Forces in Richmond: Charles Dimmock

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

George Brinton McClellan
John Charles Frémont
Henry Wager Halleck

Major-General USV

John Adams Dix
Nathaniel Prentiss Banks
Benjamin Franklin Butler
David Hunter
Edwin Denison Morgan
Ethan Allen Hitchcock

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell
Robert Anderson
William Starke Rosecrans
Philip St George Cooke

Brigadier-General USV

Samuel Peter Heintzelman
Erasmus Darwin Keyes
Andrew Porter
Fitz-John Porter
William Buel Franklin
William Tecumseh Sherman
Charles Pomeroy Stone
Don Carlos Buell
Thomas West Sherman
John Pope
George Archibald McCall
William Reading Montgomery
Philip Kearny
Joseph Hooker
John Wolcott Phelps
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Charles Smith Hamilton
Darius Nash Couch
Rufus King
Jacob Dolson Cox
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut
Franz Sigel
Robert Cumming Schenck
Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
Frederick West Lander
Benjamin Franklin Kelley
John Alexander McClernand
Alpheus Starkey Williams
Israel Bush Richardson
James Cooper
James Brewerton Ricketts
Orlando Bolivar Willcox
Michael Corcoran
George Henry Thomas
Ambrose Everett Burnside
Henry Hayes Lockwood
Louis Blenker
Henry Warner Slocum
James Samuel Wadsworth
John James Peck
Ormsby McKnight Mitchel
George Webb Morell
John Henry Martindale
Samuel Davis Sturgis
George Stoneman
Henry Washington Benham
William Farrar Smith
James William Denver
Egbert Ludovicus Vielé
James Shields
John Fulton Reynolds
William Farquhar Barry
John Joseph Abercrombie
John Sedgwick
Charles Ferguson Smith
Silas Casey
Lawrence Pike Graham
George Gordon Meade
Abram Duryée
Alexander McDowell McCook
Oliver Otis Howard
Eleazar Arthur Paine
Daniel Edgar Sickles
Charles Davis Jameson
Ebenezer Dumont
Robert Huston Milroy
Lewis Wallace
Willis Arnold Gorman
Daniel Butterfield
Horatio Gouverneur Wright
Edward Otho Cresap Ord
William Nelson
William Thomas Ward
John Gross Barnard
Innis Newton Palmer
Seth Williams
John Newton
Winfield Scott Hancock
Thomas Leonidas Crittenden
George Wright
Isaac Ingalls Stevens
Thomas Williams
George Sykes
William Henry French
William Thomas Harbaugh Brooks
John Milton Brannan
William Wallace Burns
John Porter Hatch
David Sloane Stanley
William Kerley Strong
Albin Francisco Schoepf
Lovell Harrison Rousseau
James Scott Negley
Thomas John Wood
Richard W Johnson
Adolph Wilhelm August Friedrich Von Steinwehr
Joseph Bennett Plummer
John Gray Foster
George Washington Cullum
Jeremiah Tilford Boyle
Christopher Columbus Augur
Schuyler Hamilton
Jesse Lee Reno
George Washington Morgan
Julius Stahel
John McAllister Schofield
Thomas Jefferson McKean
John Grubb Parke
Zealous Bates Tower
Jefferson Columbus Davis
James Henry Lane
John McAuley Palmer
William High Keim
James Abram Garfield
Lewis Golding Arnold
Frederick Steele
William Scott Ketchum
Abner Doubleday
John Wynn Davidson
Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh Dana
David Bell Birney
Thomas Francis Meagher
Henry Morris Naglee

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (Quartermaster-General)
Henry Knox Craig
Lorenzo Thomas (Adjutant-General)
James Wolfe Ripley (Ordnance)

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

General ACSA

Samuel Cooper
Albert Sidney Johnston
Robert Edward Lee
Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Major-General PACS

Leonidas Polk
Braxton Bragg
Earl Van Dorn
Gustavus Woodson Smith
Theophilus Hunter Holmes
William Joseph Hardee
Benjamin Huger
James Longstreet
John Bankhead Magruder
Mansfield Lovell
Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Edmund Kirby Smith
George Bibb Crittenden
John Clifford Pemberton
Richard Stoddert Ewell
William Wing Loring

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Benjamin McCulloch
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd
Henry Alexander Wise
David Rumph Jones
Henry Hopkins Sibley
John Henry Winder
Richard Caswell Gatlin
Daniel Smith Donelson
Samuel Read Anderson
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
Daniel Harvey Hill
Jones Mitchell Withers
Richard Heron Anderson
Robert Augustus Toombs
Samuel Jones
Arnold Elzey
William Henry Chase Whiting
Jubal Anderson Early
Isaac Ridgway Trimble
Daniel Ruggles
Roswell Sabine Ripley
Albert Pike
Paul Octave Hébert
Joseph Reid Anderson
Simon Bolivar Buckner
Leroy Pope Walker
Albert Gallatin Blanchard
Gabriel James Rains
James Ewell Brown Stuart
Lafayette McLaws
Thomas Fenwick Drayton
Thomas Carmichael Hindman
Adley Hogan Gladden
John Porter McCown
Lloyd Tilghman
Nathan George Evans
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox
Robert Emmett Rodes
Richard Taylor
Louis Trezevant Wigfall
James Heyward Trapier
Samuel Gibbs French
William Henry Carroll
Hugh Weedon Mercer
Humphrey Marshall
John Cabell Breckinridge
Richard Griffith
Alexander Peter Stewart
William Montgomery Gardner
Richard Brooke Garnett
William Mahone
Lawrence O’Bryan Branch
Edward Johnson
Maxcy Gregg
Raleigh Edward Colston
Henry Heth
Johnson Kelly Duncan
Sterling Alexander Martin Wood
John George Walker
John King Jackson
George Edward Pickett
James McQueen McIntosh
Bushrod Rust Johnson
James Patton Anderson
Howell Cobb
George Wythe Randolph
Joseph Brevard Kershaw
James Ronald Chalmers
Joseph Lewis Hogg
Daniel Marsh Frost

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