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WI16thJim

Foote and Grant want to seize Fort Henry

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Two Jan. 28. 1862 messages to Gen. Halleck:

CAIRO, January 28, 1862.

Major-General HALLECK.

St. Louis, Mo.

Commanding General Grant and myself are of the opinion that Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, can be carried with four ironclad gunboats and troops, and be permanently occupied. Have we your authority to move for that purpose when ready?

A. H. FOOTE,

Flag- Officer.

And the second:

CAIRO, January 28, 1862.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,

Saint Louis Mo.:

With permission, I will take Fort Henry, on the Tennessee, and establish and hold a large camp there.

U.S. GRANT,

Brigadier General.

Jim

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This is interesting because as I recall when Grant first broached the idea of taking Ft. Henry, Halleck kind of ignored him. It was not until after both Foote and Grant brought up the subject that he agreed to let them go ahead. Grant seemed to be in Halleck's disfavor even before Ft. Henry & Donelson.

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Jim and Sharon

 

I return to this thread, because it relates to one of 'the mysteries' involving Halleck and Grant; and I have always wondered... How could Grant approach Halleck in early January, reveal his plan to attack Fort Henry, and be rebuffed; and just weeks later, the same plan is submitted, under signature of BGen Grant and Flag-Officer Foote... and Halleck gives his approval?  What changed?

 

In Grant's Memoirs, he states it thus: 'On January 6th, I went to see Halleck in St. Louis; my plans [to first take Fort Heiman, then use that high ground to concentrate on Fort Henry] having been confirmed by no less able soldier than General C.F. Smith... I was received by Halleck with so little cordiality... I was cut off by Halleck before I had uttered many sentences, as if my plan was preposterous.' [Ch. 21, para. 6]

 

I believe that MGen Halleck, in command of the Department of Missouri, was privy to information that Grant was not. And instead of sharing that information, he exercised 'need to know,' and ended up alienating Grant.

 

So, what was the information that Halleck possessed?  Mortar boats.  The U.S. Navy, working in close cooperation with the Army, had made known that a plan was in work to reduce the Rebel forts on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. But those plans required the use of 13-inch mortars, operated from towed barges. Those mortars were (supposedly) under construction at the Fort Pitt Foundry at Pittsburgh; but as the time approached for acquiring the mortars and putting them to use, it was discovered that only two (of sixteen) mortars were 'under forge' at Pittsburgh. Some sort of contracting mix-up, that ultimately required President Lincoln's personal involvement. (See Note 1)

 

Flag-Officer Foote and Brigadier General Grant got in contact with each other, and hashed out a workable plan to reduce Fort Henry that did not require mortars. And then they sent their January 28th request to Major General Halleck.  [Athough it appears Foote decided to make use of the 8-inch Dahlgrens aboard his three timberclads as impromptu mortars, firing 15 degree trajectories from behind the ironclads.] 

 

Regards

 

Ozzy

 

References 

 

Note 1   http://archive.org/stream/lifeofandrewhull00hopprich#page/n7/mode/2up   Life of Andrew Hull Foote, pages 192-195.

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4367/4367-h/4367-h.htm#ch21    Memoirs of U.S. Grant

 

 

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I would note that Grant came to detest Halleck after the war, when Halleck's 1862 communications criticizing Grant were found. During the war, and especially early in the war, Grant thought that Halleck was a great general, although realizing that there was a bump in the relationship every now and then. My take on it is that this meeting didn't happen or that Grant mischaracterized what happened during it. As someone noted above, Halleck agreed to the plan soon afterward.

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Ahhh... Halleck and Grant.  One of the all-time rivalries, competing in intensity with 'France vs England' ...'Harding vs Kerrigan' ...'Holmes vs Moriarty.'

 

And because of Grant's elevation in 'position,' he was given access to documents that proved he'd been 'white-anted' by Halleck... for years. But you have to give Halleck credit: he was able to keep Grant 'off balance, and guessing' at who was his Moriarty, for a long, long time.

 

(One trait that seems to come out IRT Henry Halleck, is his control of information: only entities with 'need to know' got access.)

 

Ozzy

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