1862 February 4th

February 4 1862 Tuesday

Fort Henry, TN

Forts Henry & Donelson Campaign

Go to February 5 1862

North Carolina. North-eastern North Carolina is dominated by the Sounds, which are large and shallow bodies of brackish-to-salt water between the mainland and the Outer Banks. Although they exist as a connected body of water with a common water level, they form several distinct regions. The largest is Pamlico Sound, immediately behind Hatteras Island; to its north is the second largest, Albemarle Sound, which extends almost to the southern border of Virginia. The narrow link between these is constricted by Roanoke Island. The waterway between Roanoke Island and the mainland is known as Croatan Sound and the island and the sound are about ten miles long. The Sound at its widest point is a little more than four miles across, and the island about two miles. On the eastern side of the island is Roanoke Sound, much narrower, shallower, and less navigable. As long as the sounds remained in possession of Confederate forces, their water-borne commerce along the coast of the eastern part of the state was unimpeded. Furthermore, the sounds were linked to Norfolk, Virginia by the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, and by the Dismal Swamp Canal. This was particularly significant, as it meant that the blockade of the port of Norfolk could never be assured so long as cargoes could reach the city through this indirect route. Communications were not affected appreciably when Union forces captured the forts on the Outer Banks at Hatteras Inlet in August 1861 because the Union Navy could not bring its deep-water vessels far into the sounds through the shallow inlets. Roanoke Island was the key to controlling the Sounds and its capture would open further access to Union vessels.
Union Brigadier-General Ambrose Everett Burnside issued orders for an attack on Roanoke Island and the Union fleet assembled in Pamlico Sound. The weather in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras turned foul and the Union attack was delayed for two days by storms, while many ships continued to struggle over the shallow bar.
The Confederates remained inert. No reinforcements were sent to Roanoke Island or any of the other possible objectives in the region and the number of infantrymen on the island remained at about 1,400, with a further 800 in reserve at Nag’s Head. Confederate Brigadier-General Henry Alexander Wise was confined to bed at Nag’s Head and remained hospitalised until after the attack was over. Although he continued to issue orders, effective command on Roanoke Island fell to Colonel Henry Marchmore Shaw of the 8th North Carolina Infantry.

Fort Henry, Tennessee. Fort Henry was a five-sided, open-bastioned earthen structure covering ten acres on the eastern bank of the Tennessee River, near Kirkman’s Old Landing and Standing Rock Creek, nearly opposite the mouth of the Sandy River.
Confederate Brigadier-General Daniel Smith Donelson had been directed to build fortifications on the rivers of Middle Tennessee. Donelson found other more suitable sites but they were all within the borders of Kentucky, which was still neutral. Moving upriver to just inside the Tennessee border, he selected the site of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and Colonel Bushrod Rust Johnson of the Tennessee Corps of Engineers approved the selection. As construction of Fort Donelson began, Donelson looked twelve miles west to the Tennessee River and selected a site for Fort Henry, naming it after Tennessee Senator Gustavus Adolphus Henry. Fort Donelson was on the west bank of the Cumberland, so he selected the east bank of the Tennessee River for the second fort. This decision meant that the garrison could transfer troops easily between them to defend both forts, as he deemed it unlikely for both to be attacked simultaneously. Unlike its well-sited counterpart on the Cumberland, Fort Henry was situated on low, swampy ground, dominated by hills across the river. On the positive side, it had an unobstructed field of fire two miles downriver.
The surveying team employed by Donelson, Adna Anderson, a civil engineer, and Major William F Foster from the 1st Tennessee Infantry, objected strongly to the site and appealed to Johnson, who inexplicably approved it. The design of both forts was meant to stop traffic along the river and they were not as well designed to withstand infantry assaults from the land side. Construction began in mid-June 1861 using men from the 10th Tennessee Infantry and slave labourers. After this early activity, little more could be done because forts on the Mississippi River had a higher priority for receiving men and artillery. In late December, additional men from the 27th Alabama Infantry arrived along with 500 slaves. They constructed a small fortification across the river on Stewart’s Hill, within artillery range of Fort Henry, naming it Fort Heiman. Fort Heiman was on the higher western bank protecting Fort Henry but remained unfinished. An entrenched camp was on a higher plateau to the rear of Fort Henry.
At about the same time, Brigadier-General Lloyd Tilghman assumed command of both Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. At Fort Henry, there were now approximately 2,800 to 3,400 men, in two brigades commanded by Colonel Adolphus Heiman and Colonel Joseph Drake. They were barely trained and armed with antique flintlock muskets or hunting rifles. Seventeen guns were mounted in Fort Henry, eleven covering the river and the other six positioned to defend against a land attack. There were two heavy guns, including one 10-inch Columbiad and one 24-pounder rifled guns; the remainder were 32-pounder smoothbores. There were two 42-pounders, but they were useless as no ammunition of that calibre was available. Some of the guns had been condemned as more dangerous to the firers than their targets and many of the guns facing the river were underwater if the water level rose even slightly.
When the river was at normal levels, the walls of the fort rose 20 feet above it and were 20 feet thick at the base, sloping upward to about 10 feet thick at the parapet. In February 1862, heavy rains caused the river to rise and most of the fort was underwater, including the powder magazine. The Confederates deployed an additional defensive measure, which was an innovation in the history of warfare: several torpedoes (in modern terminology, naval mines) were anchored below the surface in the main shipping channel, rigged to explode when touched by a passing ship. This measure turned out to be largely ineffective, due to the high water levels and the leaking of water into the metal containers of many of the torpedoes.
Protected by four novel ironclad gunboats and three wooden gunboats, Union Brigadier-General Ulysses Simpson Grant began to land his two divisions in two different locations downstream from Fort Henry. The 1st Division under Brigadier-General John Alexander McClernand was sent to land three miles north of the fort at Panther Creek on the east bank of the Tennessee River. McClernand was directed to prevent the escape of the garrison of Fort Henry (his two brigades of the 1st Division were strengthened by a brigade detached from the 2nd Division). The other two brigades from the 2nd Division under Brigadier-General Charles Ferguson Smith would arrive later from Paducah in the second journey of the transports. Smith would land on the Kentucky side by the high ground and would first occupy the abandoned Fort Heiman to ensure the fort’s fall from this dominating position.
Tilghman reported that Union gunboats and transports were landing troops five miles below the fort. After initiating the debarkation of troops below Fort Henry, Grant and Foote steamed forward on USS Essex with the other ironclads to reconnoitre the fort and to test the range of its defensive armament. The USS Essex was soon hit by a 6-inch shot and immediately withdraw, having confirmed that landings any nearer to the fort than Panther Creek would be too dangerous. Torpedoes, planted in the river but torn loose by the flooding waters, floated by and some were retrieved for inspection.

Virginia. Incident at Bloomery Gap.

Union Organisation

USA: Henry Morris Naglee promoted Brigadier-General USV 12 February 1862 to rank from 4 February 1862.

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 Cairo: Ulysses Simpson Grant
  • District of St Louis: John McAllister Schofield
  • District of Central Missouri: John Pope
    • Army of Western Missouri: John Pope
  • 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: Joseph Rodman West temporary

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

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: Jones Mitchell Withers

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 Alexander Wise

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
  • Army of the Northwest: Edward Johnson temporary

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

  • 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

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

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Benjamin McCulloch
William Wing Loring
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
Joseph Brevard Kershaw
Daniel Marsh Frost

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