Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2/6/13 cwn

6, Capture of Fort Henry 

No. 1

SAINT LOUIS, January 30, 1862.

Brig. Gen. U. S. GRANT, Cairo, Ill.

Make your preparations to take and hold Fort Henry. I will send you written instructions by mail.

H. W. HALLECK, Maj.-Gen.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, January 30, 1862.

Brig. Gen. U. S. GRANT, Cairo, Ill.

SIR: You will immediately prepare to send forward to Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, all your available forces from Smithland, Paducah, Cairo, Fort Holt, Bird's Point, &c. Sufficient garrisons must be left to hold these places against an attack from Columbus. As the roads are almost impassable for large forces, and as your command is very deficient in transportation, the troops will be taken in steamers up the Tennessee River as far as practicable. Supplies will also be taken up in steamers as far as possible. Flag-Officer Foote will protect the transports with his gunboats. The Benton and perhaps some others should be left for the defense of Cairo. Fort Henry should be taken and held at all hazards. I shall immediately send you three additional companies of artillery from this place.

The river front of the fort is armed with 20-pounders, and it may be necessary for you to take some guns of large caliber and establish a battery on the opposite side of the river. It is believed that the guns on the land side are of small caliber and can be silenced by our field artillery. It is said that the north side of the river below the fort is favorable for landing. If so, you will land and rapidly occupy the road to Dover and fully invest the place, so as to cut off the retreat of the garrison.

Lieut.-Col. McPherson, U. S. Engineers, will immediately report to you, to act as chief engineer of the expedition. It is very probable that an attempt will be made from Columbus to re-enforce Fort Henry; also from Fort Donelson at Dover. If you can occupy the road to Dover you can prevent the latter. The steamers will give you the means of crossing from one side of the river to the other. It is said that there is a masked battery opposite the island below Fort Henry. If this cannot be avoided or turned it must be taken.

Having invested Fort Henry, a cavalry force will be sent forward to break up the railroad from Paris to Dover. The bridges should be rendered impassable, but not destroyed.

A telegram from Washington says that Beauregard left Manassas four days ago with fifteen regiments for the line of Columbus and Bowling Green. It is therefore of the greatest importance that we cut that line before he arrives. You will move with the least delay possible. You will furnish Commodore Foote with a copy of this letter. A telegraph line will be extended as rapidly as possibly from Paducah, east of the Tennessee River, to Fort Henry. Wires and operators will be sent from Saint Louis.

H. W. HALLECK, Maj.-Gen.

No. 2.

Report of Flag-Officer A. H. Foote, U. S. Navy, commanding naval forces on the Western waters.

CAIRO, ILL., February 7, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 6th instant, at 12.30 o'clock p.m., I made an attack on Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, with the iron-clad gunboats Cincinnati, Commander Stembel; the flag-ship Essex, Commander Porter; Carondelet, Commander Walke, and St. Louis, Lieut.-Commander Paulding; also taking with me the three old gunboats, Conestoga, Lieut.-Commander Phelps; the Tyler, Lieut.-Commander Gwin, and the Lexington, Lieut.-Commander Shirk, as a second division, in charge of Lieut.-Commander Phelps, which took position astern and inshore of the armed boats, doing good execution there during the action, while the armed boats were placed in the first order of steaming, approaching the fort in a parallel line.

The fire was opened at 1,700 yards' distance from the flag-ship, which was followed by the other gunboats, and responded to by the fort. As we approached the fort under slow steaming till we reached within 600 yards of the rebel batteries the fire both from the gunboats and fort increased in rapidity and accuracy of range. At twenty minutes before the rebel flag was struck the Essex unfortunately received a shot in her boilers, which resulted in wounding, by scalding, 29 officers and men.... 

The Essex then necessarily dropped out of line astern, entirely disabled, and unable to continue the fight, in which she had so gallantly participated until the sad catastrophe. The firing continued with unabated rapidity and effect upon the three gunboats as they continued still to approach the fort with their destructive fire until the rebel flag was hauled down, after a very severe and closely contested action of one hour and fifteen minutes.

A boat containing the adjutant-general and captain of engineers came alongside after the flag was lowered, and reported that Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, the commander of the fort, wished to communicate with the flag-officer, when I dispatched Commander Stembel and Lieut.-Commander Phelps, with orders to hoist the American flag where the secession ensign had been flying, and to inform Gen. Tilghman that I would see him on board the flag-ship. He came on board soon after the Union had been substituted for the rebel flag by Commander Stembel on the fort and possession taken. I received the general, his staff, and 60 or 70 men as prisoners, and a hospital ship containing 60 invalids, together with the fort and its effects, mounting twenty guns, mostly of heavy caliber, with barracks and tents capable of accommodating 15,000 men, and sundry articles, of which, as I turned the fort and its effects over to Gen. Grant, commanding the Army, on his arrival in an hour after we had made the capture, he will be enabled to give the Government a more correct statement than I am enabled to communicate from the short time I had possession of the fort 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 prevented by the excessively muddy roads and high stage of water, preventing the arrival of our troops until some time after I had taken possession of the fort.

On securing the prisoners and making necessary preliminary arrangements I dispatched Lieut.-Commander Phelps, with his division, up the Tennessee River, as I had previously directed...and so far render the bridge incapable of railroad transportation and communication between Bowling Green and Columbus, and afterwards to pursue the rebel gunboats and secure their capture, if possible. This being accomplished and the Army in possession of the fort...I left Fort Henry in the evening of the same day, with the Cincinnati and St. Louis, and arrived here this morning.

The armed gunboats resisted effectually the shot of the enemy when striking the casemate. The Cincinnati (flag-ship) received 31 shots, the Essex 15, the St. Louis 7, and the Carondelet  6, killing 1 and wounding 9 in the Cincinnati and killing 1 in the Essex, while the casualties in the latter from steam amounted to 28 in number. The Carondelet and St. Louis met with no casualties. The steamers were admirably handled by their commanders and officers, presenting only their bow guns to the enemy, to avoid exposure of the vulnerable parts of their vessels. Lieut.-Commander Phelps, with his division, also executed my orders very effectually, and promptly proceeded up the river in their further execution after the capture of the fort. In fact, all the officers and men gallantly performed their duty, and, considering the little experience they have had under fire, far more than realized my expectations.

Fort Henry was defended with the most determined gallantry by Gen. Tilghman, worthy of a better cause, who, from his own account, went into the action with eleven guns of heavy caliber bearing upon our boats, which he fought until seven of the number were dismounted or otherwise rendered useless.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. H. FOOTE, Flag-Officer, Cmdg. U. S. Naval Forces Western Waters.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, February 9, 1862.

I have this moment received the official report of your capture of Fort Henry, and hasten to congratulate you and your command for your brilliant success.

Maj.-Gen., Cmdg. Department.

Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, Cairo.

No. 3.

Reports of Brig. Gen. U. S. Grant, U. S. Army, commanding land forces of the expedition.

HDQRS. DISTRICT OF CAIRO, Fort Henry, February 6, 1862.

Fort Henry is ours. The gunboats silenced the batteries before the investment was completed. I think the garrison must have commenced the retreat last night. Our cavalry followed, finding two guns abandoned in the retreat.

I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th and return to Fort Henry.

U. S. GRANT, Brig.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, pp. 122-124.

U. S. GUNBOAT CONESTOGA, Fort Henry, Tenn., February 6, 1862.

SIR: In conformity with your directions, the division of gunboats under my command, consisting of the Tyler, Lieutenant Commanding Gwin; Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, and this vessel, in the attack of this morning on this work, took up a position upon the left bank of the river and opened fire with shells immediately after your first gun was fired and continued firing till the rebel flag was hauled down, having succeeded in throwing shells without firing over your flagship or over the other iron-plated boats in close contest with the fort. There were fired from this vessel 75 32-pounder shells, 14 12-pounder rifled shells, and 2 round shot. No injury was done either of the vessels and no casualties occurred, though we were at times exposed to the ricochet of the close fire upon your vessel, as well as to the direct fire of a 32-pounder rifled piece till it burst. The commanders of the Carondelet and Lexington handled their vessels with excellent judgment. I enclose their reports. The officers and crew of this vessel displayed coolness and an admirable spirit in this action.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. L. PHELPS, Lieutenant, Commanding, U. S. Navy. 

NOR, Ser. I, Vol. 22, pp. 542-543.



6, "The Voluntary Exiles"

Some two weeks ago we gave a list of ladies who left town in charge of some officers, to go beyond the lines. To-day we have the pleasing duty of chronicling their safe arrival. When they reached the extreme outposts of the Federal army, a flag of truce was sent into the Confederate lines, giving notice of the presence of the ladies, and requesting that means of convayance be sent them. An ambulance, accompanied by several Confederate soldiers, returned with the flag, and after a pleasant exchange of courtesies between the blue and grey coats, and a shower of thanks from the ladies upon the soldiers of the escort who had seen them safely into the hands of their friends, the party proceeded to Dixie.

Nashville Dispatch, February 6, 1864.



    6, "Small Pox"

We regret to say that this dreaded disease is still o­n the increase, and that the main cause of its spreading, which we pointed out a month ago, is still unattended to, except that an order has been published requiring that cases be reported, which might as well never have been issued, except so far as it relates to the military. A week or more ago we called the attention of the authorities to the fact that houses of ill-fame o­n College street and Criddle street contained cases of small-pox, and that soldiers frequented these houses in large numbers, day and night; and we told them also that hospital employes or inmates of hospitals frequented these places. It is to be wondered at, then that o­ne hundred and thirty-seven soldiers were attacked with this disease during the past month, in this city alone. So far as the contrabands are concerned, what has been done to prevent its spread among them? Anything? If there has, we are not aware of it. And what is the consequence? A rapid increase, from 76 in November to 219 in January, besides large numbers are not in [the] hospital.

That the public may judge for themselves concerning the spread of this disease during the past three months, we give below the official report of the Surgeon in charge as to the number of patients admitted in Hospital No. 11, during that time:

Admitted          Nov.                Dec.             Jan

Citizens.........     23......................66..................87

Soldiers.........     47......................86................137



This report presents an alarming appearance, and ought to attract the attention of all in authority. In the early part of December [1863], Mr. Spencer Chandler presented a report to the City Council, making some sensible suggestions, and urging immediate action. The report was referred to the Pest House Committee, but nothing whatever has been done. Almost every street in the city in infected, almost every negro den has its patient, and yet we hear of no measures for its amelioration -- no active, vigorous measures, such as should be put forth for the prevention of its further spreading.

The following is the Pest House report for the month of January:

No. in hospital as per last report               349

Since admitted -- citizens...........................87

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contrabands...........................................219 .......................... -- 44

Total number treated..............................792





Escaped..................................................223 .

Remaining in hospital.............................559

The following buildings are now used as small-pox hospitals and surgeons' quarters: Dr. Watson's house, Langdon's, Beech's, Ed. Smith's, two houses belonging to Whiteman, the old Pest House o­n the river, and the Bostick house o­n the Charlotte Pike, as headquarters. J. B. McFerrin's house, in Edgefield, is also used as a pest-house.

Nashville Dispatch, February 6, 1864.

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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