How the war was won in the west

Well, you are welcome to my new thread. (I hope this is finally the one I can finish). I have done my research for this first chapter and I have checked numerous sites. Such as the American battlefield trust, Britannica and Wikipedia. I have also checked numerous books about the civil war. So I hope I get everything right but if I make a mistake please inform me and I will correct it. This timeline is told like a history book. With all of this explained let us begin.

Fort Henry: The first victory of Grant.

The war in the west is often an overlooked theater in the war. There are some amazing books about the west but compared to the east is pretty obvious who gets the most attention. So my objective in this book is to explain how the war in the west was crucial to the outcome of the war. With this clear let us begin with the first important battle in the west.

Fort Henry:

Fort Henry was a confederate fort built by slaves and soldiers as a fortification that protected the river Tennessee. This fort was badly built and situated. At first this river may seem unimportant or not crucial to the war. But you couldn’t be more wrong. The river Tennessee and Cumberland where crucial as they were tributary of the Ohio river. This rivers were basically the access to the Misisipí river, a crucial river to the survival of the South itself. So both sides were willing to fight over these two tributaries knowing that the owner of the rivers would have it a lot easier to supply its armies and will be able to threaten the Deep South itself. Knowing all of this the confederacy had built two forts, fort Henry and fort Donelson. Fort Henry as we said a few lines earlier was situated in the eastern bank of the Tennessee River. Fort Donelson was on the Cumberland river and still in construction was the fort Heiman next to fort Henry.

The Anaconda plan contemplated the capture of this two rivers. So in early February, the pretty much unknown general Ulysses. S. grant started a campaign to take both fort Henry and Donelson. Helping him in this regard was Andrew H. Foote that commanded a fleet of gunboats. The union forces made up to 15.000 men and 7 gunboats, in February third they
went down the river. The fort was under brigadier general Lloyd Tilghman. Tilghman had a background as a railroad construction engineer that was appointed to build the previously mentioned forts. He didn’t select the placement of the forts but he didn’t realize of the forts poor placement until it was to late. So in his own words fort Henry was a in a “wretched military position”. Hopefully for him under his command he had commander J. Johnston Pettigrew, a colonel with a lack of military experience but nevertheless a brilliant officer with a profound interest in Spain and Spaniards. He was the best of his promotion in college and an experienced diplomat that joined the army when the war started. Pettigrew helped Tilghman with the construction of the forts and speeded up the construction of fort Heiman leaving it in a combat ready state. This was later crucial for the battle.

In February 4th the union army gunboats opened fire at fort Henry and Heiman. The confederate cannons fired back and after less than 20 minutes of battle fort Henry batteries were destroyed at the cost of 2 union gunboats sunk because of the heavy fire. Fort Heiman remain firing for almost another 30 minutes until the artillery in it was suppressed. This first combat costed 4 ship to the Union, as two were sunk and another two were heavily damaged. Soon after this, fort Henry was bombarded and Grant troops landed on it, they took the fort without casualties as just 200 men occupied the fort. It was abandoned by most confederate troops when news arrived of the imminent union attack. Grant, after realizing this, moved his army to fort Heiman and demanded unconditional surrender of the fort and its garrison. Lloyd rejected this offer, so soon after the gunboats bombarded the fort. The bombardment killed many confederates and damage the structure, but the fort hold. In fact one of the confederates that died in the the bombardment was the Brigadier general Lloyd Tilghman. The death of the commander officer was a hitto confederate morale but this was a minor problem compared to what had done the rains of the last days. The soil was wet and a lot of powder had been lost, in fact what remained was used by the artillery batteries. So when Grant asked again for unconditional surrender most officers were more than eager to accept this offer. But Pettigrew that had assume the role of commander of the garrison rejected the offer sending this response to Grant: “Only after dead we will talk about capitulation”. The response was a translated version of a famous Spanish line said by a captain of a Spanish tercio.

As it was expected Grant launched an assault over the fort, the defenders fought bravely and manage to pushback the unionist but at a great cost. Knowing that another assault will probably be too much for the garrison to defend of Pettigrew decided to take desperate measures. He directed himself an attack to a part of the union line that seemed weak with almost all his command. The attack even if desperate managed to produce a breakthrough. The battle was lost for the Confederacy but they had manage to save more than half of their army. Casualties figures are unknown but most historians agree that around 1500 to 2500 union soldiers were killed and injured to the confederate 1000 to 1500 killed, injured or captured.


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Well this is the first update, any grammar mistakes will be corrected in a future date as I have no time now to correct them. But rest assured any mistakes will be fixed in the following days.