Question of the Week: 2/8-2/14/21

In your opinion, what was the most important outcome of the military actions and surrenders at Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862?

14 Responses to Question of the Week: 2/8-2/14/21

  1. Strategically Johnston is forced to withdraw all the way to Corinth to find the next defensible line. This in turn cost the Confederacy all of the animals, food and industry of two states, crippling them. Militarily it marked the rise of U. S Grant, who would lead the Union to victory.

  2. Through the popular press man who had failed at everything became first a household name and then the General of the Union Army – US Grant.

  3. There were several important outcomes, some that have already been mentioned. The opening of both the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers is also important. The rivers would be used to further disrupt Confederate operations, including ship building, and also be leveraged as an axis of advance towards future battles including Shiloh.

  4. An underrated one is the fall of Nashville. It was a political blow to the Confederacy, and the city became a critical base for the Union for the rest of the war.

      1. Just for the sake of clarity… one of the stars on the Confederate Battle Flag represented the Confederate State of Kentucky, with Capital at Bowling Green. Another star represented the Confederate State of Tennessee with its capital… relocated from Nashville (23 FEB 1862) to Memphis by Governor Isham Harris. Bowling Green was evacuated on 14 FEB and occupied by Federal General Ormsby Mitchel the next day. Confederate Governor of Kentucky George W. Johnson remained in company with General Albert Sidney Johnston until the Battle of Shiloh, where both General Johnston and Governor Johnson died of wounds.
        As it was both significant manufacturing center and military supply depot, the loss of Nashville was indeed “like a bucket of cold water” on the aspirations of the Confederacy.

  5. On a grand strategic level, the accurate outcomes from the Donelson campaign outlined above resulted in a western initiative that continued through Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta, & ultimately a March to the sea that turned the Eastern Theater as well.

  6. Agree with Chris regarding the fall of Nashville. This immediate period saw the rise in reputation of two iconic figures, Grant and Forrest. Ironically, his success led Grant to grievously underestimate the recuperative powers of Sidney Johnston’s command.

  7. The defeat of Forts Henry and Donelson “turned” impregnable Fort Columbus. Perched on a towering bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and Belmont Missouri, and defended by over 120 pieces of artillery, naval mines (called torpedoes) and experimental land mines, this Gibraltar of the West was manned by 14,000 Rebels. A strong chain stretched across the Mississippi River helped prevent Federal ships from steaming south of Fort Columbus. With the diminished Rebel force under General Albert Sidney Johnston forced to evacuate Bowling Green Kentucky and continue south beyond the important manufacturing center and military supply depot of Nashville, General PGT Beauregard ordered Fort Columbus evacuated, siphoned off some of the redeployed men to create his new Army, and sent the remainder to Island No.10 to defend that “impregnable” fall-back position from the ironclad gunboats soon to arrive…
    Equally important: the Rebel evacuation of Fort Columbus is believed to have been the signal for Farragut’s Operation to Capture New Orleans to begin.

  8. the Union victories there showed that the Confederates were not invincible on the fields of battle.

  9. It’s one of the most important dominoes to fall in the story of the rise of Ulysses S. Grant. While every domino needs to fall in order for the next to fall, this one was especially important because of the “Unconditional Surrender” nickname, which goes a long way toward building the Grant myth.

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