Abbildungen der Seite

who soon after issued his equally celebrated Order No. 3, excluding “ unauthorized persons ” from entering the army-lines. It was as follows:

“It has been represented that important information respecting the number of our forces is conveyed to the enemy by means of fugitive slaves who are admitted within our lines. In order to remedy this evil, it is directed that no such persons be hereafter permitted to enter the lines of any camp, or of any forces on the march; that any now within such lines be immediately excluded therefrom. No fugitive slaves will therefore be admitted within our lines or camps, except when especially ordered by the general commanding."

The Mississippi, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland, are the only rivers which were navigable from the southern lines of the free States into the States in rebellion.

The rebels had, with great foresight, stretched a strategic line east from Columbus, on the Mississippi, which had been strongly fortified, two hundred miles to Bowling Green, in the centre of Kentucky; crossing both the two last-named rivers at a right angle. Bowling Green was at the junction of the Memphis and Ohio and Louisville and Nashville Railroads.

About the centre of this line, near the boundary of Kentucky and Tennessee, the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers approach within twelve miles of each other. Here the rebels had erected two strong forts with great skill and labor, — Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, Fort Henry on the Tennessee. But the forts were south of Columbus and Bowling Green ; so that these strongholds must both be evacuated when the forts were taken.

Grant perceived all this, of course, but had been required for two months to drill and organize his men. Late in January, 1862, he visited St. Louis in person to obtain permission to take these forts; but the plan was not entertained. After his return, Grant telegraphed to St. Louis, Jan. 28, “ With permission, I will take and hold Fort Henry on the Tennessee, and establish and hold a large camp there.” On the same day, Com. Foote, commanding the gunboats in that region, by a happy coincidence telegraphed as follows:

CAIRO, Jan. 28, 1862. Major-Gen. H. W. HALLECK, St. Louis, Mo., commanding,

Gen. Grant and myself are of opinion that Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, can be carried with four iron-clad gunboats, and troops to permanently occupy. Have we your authority to move for that purpose when ready?

A. H. FOOTE, Flag-Officer.

The reader can judge whether Gen. Grant requested Foote to send this despatch in aid of his request.

Permission to move arrived on the 1st of February. The next day, Grant had left Cairo with seventeen thousand men on transports, accompanied by Foote with several gunboats. They sailed up the Ohio to the mouth of the Tennessee, then up the latter to within about eight miles of the fort where Gen. McClernand had selected a landing ; but Grant himself pushed up the river on one of the gunboats to draw the fire from the fort and ascertain the range of their guns, which he satisfactorily learned by a thirtytwo-pound shot passing through the boat.

He now determined to move his troops four miles up


the river, to Bailey's Ferry; and there they debarked. Both sides of the river were found to be fortified. The principal works were on the east side. A bastioned * front, with seventeen heavy gun embrasures, had been formed with sand-bags on the parapets between the guns. On the land-front, there was a camp protected by a commanding line of rifle-pits, filled by Western sharpshooters. The fort enclosed about three

There were about three thousand rebel troops, under Brig-Gen. Tilghman.

McClernand was ordered to move at eleven o'clock on the 6th to the rear of Fort Henry, on the road to Fort Donelson, to cut off retreat and re-enforcements. Gen. Smith was to seize Fort Heiman on the west bank of the river; and the gunboats were to advance in two lines, and attack from the river.

Com. Foote well knew that thousands of troops could not march as rapidly as his boats could steam up the river, and was by no means unwilling to do the principal part of the bloody work before the land-force could arrive. Unlike Atlantis, who lingered in the race that she might be overtaken by her lover, Foote, emulous of glory, secretly rejoiced that he could not be overtaken or passed by the army; and at the last moment, unable to conceal his anticipated success, he said to Grant, with a smile and bright twinkle in his eye,

, shall take Fort Henry before the troops arrive.”

The little fleet was composed of “The Cincinnati,"

[ocr errors]

* Bastion, a projecting part of the main fort. EMBRASURE, an opening in a parapet for cannon. PARAPET, a breastwork for covering soldiers. Mine, a cavity under a fort, filled with powder. TRENCH, an excavation made to cover troops advancing in a siege. PARALLEL, a wide trench for communication between batteries. Moar, a canal around a fort.


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


“ Essex,” “Carondelet,” “St. Louis,” “ Conestoga,"

Tyler,” and “ Lexington,” — the first three iron-clads, the last wooden vessels. They engaged the forts at six hundred yards, opening a terrific cannonade, which was continued for nearly an hour with unabated fury. But the gallant commodore had ordered the men to “ aim carefully,” “fire steadily," and to “make every shot tell;" and they did. At last, a twenty-eight-pound shot struck “ The Essex” in a weak spot, and pierced her boiler. In an instant, the vessel was filled with scalding steam, killing and wounding nearly forty men ; among them Capt. W. D. Porter and both pilots. For a moment, the scene on board was appalling. The little vessel trembled in every timber, and now, struck in a vital part, like a strong man pierced in the heart, drifted slowly out of the fight. The rebels, thinking the attack repulsed, now made the welkin ring with their shouts. But the remaining vessels continued their fire, as if determined to lift the fort, and ground which held it, bodily from the earth. In an hour and fifteen minutes the white flag was seen, upon which a boat was lowered ; and soon the national ensign was raised over this stronghold of treason amid long-continued cheers. The short time within which the fort had been captured was a surprise to both Foote and Grant. The troops had been compelled to march eight miles around, through muddy roads, cutting their way through the woods, building bridges across several streams; and were unable to arrive until nearly an hour after Tilghman's surrender. This delay had permitted most of the garrison to escape. Gen. Tilghman, eleven on his staff, seventy men, sixteen invalids, barracks and

[ocr errors]

tents for fifteen thousand soldiers, were captured. Grant instantly sent forward his cavalry on the road to Fort Donelson ; but they took only twenty or thirty men and a few guns.

That Foote should at once have all the honor he deserved, Grant immediately telegraphed to Halleck, “ Fort Henry is ours! The gunboats silenced the batteries before the investment was completed. I shall take and destroy Fort. Donelson on the 8th, and return to Fort Henry.” The reader will remember that he had only asked permission to attack Fort Henry; no allusion being made to Fort Donelson. And Foote, with the same spirit, reported as follows: “The plan of the attack, so far as the army reaching the rear of the fort to make a demonstration simultaneously with the navy, was frustrated by the excessively muddy roads and the high stage of the water preventing the arrival of our troops until some time after I had taken possession of the fort.” *

Grant, although he had received no orders to that effect, determined to move at once upon Fort Donelson, and ordered his entire force to be "ready to march by daylight” the next day. But the windows of heaven opened, and the floods came; the streams were rivers, the roads mires; the ground seemed turned into swamps.

. The gunboats had steamed up into the interior as far as Florence, Ala., some two hundred miles, and within two hundred and fifty miles of Montgomery, the capital of the so-called Confederacy. The novel sight drew the inhabitants to the river by thousands. Men, women, and children lined the shores; and the old flag was often saluted with loud huzzas, and tears of joy.

* Foote's Report.

« ZurückWeiter »