Chronological History of the American Civil War
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North Carolina, the Union transports finally finish crossing the sandbar at Roanoke Inlet and prepare to attack Roanoke Island. Friday, February 7, 1862 : President Lincoln's youngest son, Willie, is critically ill with typhoid fever. In western Virginia, the Confederates abandon Romney to the Union troops again. On the Tennessee River, Lieutenant S.L. Phelps, commander of the U.S.S. Conestoga , forces the Confederates to abandon and burn the steamers Samuel Orr , Appleton Belle , and Lynn Boyd to prevent capture by the Union. The Samuel Orr , loaded with torpedos, explodes, causing fragments and ammunition to rain down on the river for half a mile around. Union Brigadier General John A. McClernand renames Fort Henry in honor of Flag Officer Foote. The Governor of Tennessee, Isham G. Harris, advises Confederate Secretary of War, Judah Benjamin that the Confederate line of defense in Tennessee has been broken - only Fort Donelson remains. Confederate General Albert S. Johnston orders reinforcements to Fort Donelson from Clarksville, Tennessee and from Russellville, Kentucky. At Bowling Green, Kentucky, Confederate Generals Johnston, Beauregard, and Hardee hold a council of war to discuss the breach in the Confederate line of defense. The Union assault on Roanoke Island begins with gunboats leading heavy bombardment of Fort Barrow at Pork Point in North Carolina. Saturday, February 8, 1862 : Three U.S. Navy gunboats, fresh from their victory at Fort Henry, destroy the Memphis, Clarksville, & Louisville Railroad Bridge on the Tennessee River. The battle for Roanoke Island continues. Union forces clear obstructions sunk by Confederates and enter Albemarle Sound with gunboats. The Union fleet overwhelms the Confederate gunboats. Confederate Colonel Shaw, in temporary command while General Wise (CSA) lies ill, attempts to hold their position, but finally surrenders. The Confederates lose 30 guns, 2,527 men captured, and another strategic position on the Atlantic coast. Thirteen Union gunboats follow retreating Confederates up the Pasquotank River in the direction of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Near Mobile at Chickasaw, Alabama, Union forces capture two Confederate steamers, Sallie Wood and Muscle . The Confederates burn three other steamers to prevent their capture. The Confederate war council at Bowling Green decides to fall back to Nashville, Tennessee. Sunday, February 9, 1862 : Brig. General Gideon J. Pillow (CSA) was appointed commander of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. Pillow, whose education was in law, not war, had been the law partner of James K. Polk. He helped Polk become president in 1844; two years later Polk made Pillow a general in the Mexican War. Pillow’s service at Donelson was, to put it mildly, undistinguished. Monday, February 10, 1862 : Grant told his men that they would move on Fort Donelson within 24 hours. The fort was 12 miles from Fort Henry. Grant’s large land force was supported by a large river force as more Union gunboats joined the attack. Union Commander Rowan, in the U.S.S. Delaware , chases the Confederate fleet, led by Flag Officer Lynch, up the Pasquotank River. When they reach Elizabeth City, North Carolina, he captures one ship, burns two, and sinks another. Union Flag Officer Farragut prepares for his assault on New Orleans. Confederate spies watch his progress.
Tuesday, February 11, 1862 : General Grant’s assault on Fort Donelson begins. Gunboats of Union Flag Officer Foote proceed to assist. General McClernand approaches Fort Donelson from the west. Confederate Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner (pictured) arrives from the eastside at Fort Donelson. In response to Union activity on the Cumberland River, the Confederates evacuate Bowling Green, Kentucky, leaving Kentucky open to Union invasion. Wednesday, February 12, 1862 : Union General Grant (U.S.) surrounds Fort Donelson with 40,000 troops. Confederates at Fort Donelson number only 18,000. Union gunboats move into position for the assault on Fort Donelson. In North Carolina, Union forces take possession of Edenton, near Roanoke.
Thursday, February 13, 1862 : Union forces attack Fort Donelson. Confederate command of Fort Donelson transfers to General Floyd, whose reinforcements prove ultimately useless. Union Generals Smith and McClernand attack Fort Donelson (CSA) from opposite ends. Artillery fire continued
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