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Despite the mammoth Federal success at Fort Donelson, the war did not come to an end (though some acted as if it had.) General U.S. Grant looked to push the next objective, which appeared to be Nashville. And he requested guidance from St. Louis.

In meantime, Clarksville (about fifty miles up the Cumberland River, in the direction of Nashville) was deemed a suitable target: a reconnaissance conducted by  U.S. Navy gunboats Conestoga and Cairo on February 18th discovered that Confederate Clarksville was practically a ghost town; the Rebels and most of the citizens had fled. So, General C.F. Smith was dispatched with a suitable force pulled from his Second Division and occupied Clarksville on about February 23rd. Early the next day, U.S. Grant, in company with Surgeon Brinton, , BGen McClernand, Captain Taylor (of Taylor's Battery), Colonel Lauman and Colonel WHL Wallace, departed Fort Donelson aboard steamer W.H.B. for an inspection of Union-occupied Clarksville.

But, it does not appear that an inspection took place at Clarksville that day: General Grant caught wind that General William Nelson's Division (which was known to have been promised to assist Grant at Fort Donelson) had arrived at Paducah; reported to General Sherman; and departed Paducah aboard a small fleet on February 23rd, bound for the Cumberland River. The seven steamers, under gunboat escort, continued to the ordered destination of Clarksville (arrival recorded as 8 a.m. February 24th) and General Nelson met with General Smith. At about noon (in accordance with orders relayed from General Grant to General Nelson) General Nelson returned to his steamer, Diana, and in company with six other steamers (led by USS Carondelet) the force proceeded up the Cumberland (with U.S. Grant aboard steamer W.H.B, in company with USS Cairo, well in advance of the fleet.)

Bull Nelson arrived at the "open city" of Nashville on February 25th, stepped ashore... and became the first Federal General Officer to enter Nashville following Rebel occupation; (General Buell was just across the river at Edgefield: today's East Nashville); and U.S. Grant appears to have waited aboard the W.H.B., at least, for a little while. Nelson made contact with Buell; and Grant escorted his party from Fort Donelson into Union-occupied Nashville for two days of what can best be described as relaxation and diversion. On February 27th, U.S. Grant met with Don Carlos Buell aboard the W.H.B. and exchanged pleasantries; and then Grant and his party departed Nashville, and arrived back at Fort Donelson late on 28 FEB 1862.

Cheers

Ozzy

 

References:  OR 7 pages 661, 662- 3, 668, 670- 1, 674.

OR (Navy) vol.22, pages 315, 587, 616, 617, 625.

Memoirs of U.S. Grant page 318.

Adam Badeau's Military Career of U.S. Grant, pages 58 - 9.

Diary of Jacob Ammen for dates February 23, 24 and 25 (found in OR 7 page 659 - 660.

Hoppin's Life of Andrew Hull Foote, pages 230 - 236.

Memoirs of Surgeon John Brinton, page 139.

Life of General WHL Wallace, pages 166 (Letter of 20 FEB 1862) and page 171 (Letter of 28 FEB 1862).

 

 

 

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"There is a screw loose in that command."

It is not for me to judge to whom Henry Halleck was referring when he wrote the above pointed comment on February 24th 1862; but, little could General Halleck have suspected that Ulysses Grant, that very day, was in process of finalizing plans to make his way to Nashville, "to meet with General Buell."

Taking advantage of a welcome, unexpected sighting of General William Nelson's transports steaming up the Cumberland, General Grant made use of the opportunity to: 1) direct that convoy to Clarksville, the limit of its current orders; 2) to "return" the redundant Bull Nelson to Buell at Nashville. Ulysses Grant merely went along -- with an entourage -- "to watch and enjoy the show." [By reviewing the exchange of telegrams from 16 - 27 February 1862, to be found in OR 7 pages 626 - 648 and 661 - 671, a sense of the level of confusion then evident, IRT the "safe, yet expeditious" occupation of Nashville is revealed... and it is prostrating.]

In answer, U.S. Grant took matters into his own hands. Nelson's fleet, under escort of USS Carondelet, arrived at Nashville in the morning of Tuesday, February 25th. Bull Nelson immediately stepped ashore, becoming the first Federal General Officer to return to Union-occupied Nashville... stealing the glory by three hours from D.C. Buell, who had organized a formal hand-over with the Mayor, to take place at 11 a.m. Meanwhile, Grant (aboard the powerful towboat, W.H.B.), escorted to Nashville by USS Cairo, appears to have waited until the following day, Wednesday, to begin venturing out and sight-seeing. Previewing scenes of three years later (when President Lincoln made his visit to an abandoned Richmond) Grant's party strolled the streets; stopped in to visit with Mrs. Polk (widow of former-President Polk); and visited hospitals in search of Union POWs captured at Fort Donelson. Then, having given General Buell time enough to hear the rumors "of another general in town," U.S. Grant dropped by on Thursday to visit with Buell, but found him out. Later, General Buell appeared -- with his own entourage -- at Grant's boat, the W.H.B. and the meeting was held. Afterwards, Grant left Nashville, and arrived back at Fort Donelson late on Friday, February 28th.

Remarkably, letters were written during this time away by Grant and his party; but none indicate on the letterhead anyplace other than "Fort Donelson." In addition, General Grant took a newsman along: Franc Bangs Wilkie, of the Chicago Tribune. Wilkie also did not reveal the trip to Nashville, until long after the event... which seems to indicate the loyalty generated, and power of persuasion inherent to General U.S. Grant.

Always more to the story...

Ozzy

 

References:  OR 7 (pages as sited)

http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-02.pdf  artcirclelibrary for March 1862 (see pages 67 - 73)

Forts Henry and Donelson, by B. F. Cooling (1987) pages 246 - 7.

Pen and Powder, by Franc Bangs Wilkie (1888) pages 133 - 141.

Letters of WHL Wallace, dates of 20 Feb and 28 Feb 1862.

 

 

 

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Grant's Greatest Strength

From study of U.S. Grant's military history in the West during the Civil War, what becomes apparent is the General's aggression, drive and determination to take the fight to the enemy. Belmont -- initially flagged as a "demonstration in vicinity of Fort Columbus" -- was converted by Grant into a highly successful raid. Fort Henry was such an obvious target that newspaper reporters, all during the month of January, were conjecturing when that Confederate fort would be attacked. And Fort Donelson was merely the logical next step, after the capture of Fort Henry.

Following the capture of Fort Donelson, the logical next step was "occupation of Nashville"  (a major source of supply for the Rebel Army.) But, General Grant saw unedifying vacillation on the part of his Federal counterparts (Buell and Halleck, in particular), and took measures into his own hands to press for Nashville's occupation. First, Grant suggested to Major General Halleck that Nashville be taken. Then, finding no obvious plan in work, Grant suggested he could take Nashville. Finally, Grant determined that Nashville's occupation was needlessly being delayed; and took measures to "fix that problem"

  • U.S. Grant told Halleck that he was going to Nashville (and added the proviso, "Unless you specifically prohibit my going.")
  • He looked for an opportunity... and found it: the arrival of Nelson's Division, sent to assist in capture of Fort Donelson (and now, technically, Nelson's Division was a part of Grant's Army)
  • Nelson's Division, in convoy aboard seven transports steaming up the Cumberland River, was deemed by Grant as superfluous; and labelled by Grant as "no longer needed." Therefore, General Grant thought it best to "return to sender" Nelson's force, by re-directing the flotilla a little further up the Cumberland, with new destination: Nashville.

When Brigadier General William Nelson stepped ashore on February 25th he was the first Union general officer to enter the former Confederate capital of Tennessee. He technically belonged to Grant, who was in process of "returning him to the Army of the Ohio." (Which is why there is confusion to this day IRT who occupied Nashville?)

To sum up, General Grant's greatest strength was his ability to "see opportunity, and exploit opportunity." (Drive, determination, aggression, persistence... were merely character traits used as tools by Grant to develop opportunity.)

My take on U.S. Grant

Ozzy

 

Reference: Badeau's Military History of U.S. Grant (1867) pages 56 -61.

 

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"You may have Knocked, but I was not at Home"

The following Telegram, dated 25 FEB 1862 was sent from St. Louis by Major General Henry Halleck, to Flag-officer Andrew Foote (not at home at Cairo):

"The possession of Nashville by General Buell renders it necessary to countermand the instructions sent to Foote and Sherman yesterday morning, dated 23rd. Grant will send no more forces to Clarksville; General Smith's division will come to Fort Henry, or to a point higher on the Tennessee River; transports will be collected at Paducah and above; all the mortar boats to be immediately brought back to Cairo; two gunboats to be left at Clarksville, to precede Nelson's division up the river to Nashville -- having done this, they will return to Cairo; two gunboats to be left in the Tennessee River with General Grant; the latter will immediately have small garrisons detailed for Forts Donelson and Henry, and all other forces made ready for the field." -- H. W. Halleck, Major-General.

[Above telegram found in Life of Andrew Hull Foote by James Mason Hoppin (1874) page 238.]

These are the gems contained in the above telegram (not received immediately by Foote because he was aboard USS Cincinnati on the Mississippi River):

  • "The possession of Nashville by General Buell" -- after much delay, due to uncertainty of the strength of Albert Sidney Johnston's force, evacuated from Bowling Green, Buell carefully and cautiously approached Nashville from the north, stopping at Edgefield, and arranged formal surrender of City of Nashville with the Mayor (that surrender to take place later on February 25th.) Meanwhile, Brigadier General Nelson had arrived aboard a steamer -- unbeknownst to Buell or Halleck -- and stepped ashore at Nashville before Buell;
  • "Countermand the instructions sent to Foote and Sherman yesterday" -- telegram dated 23 FEB received at Cairo while Foote was aboard USS Cincinnati, conducting a surveillance of Fort Columbus (so that telegram not received, either); and Sherman, at Paducah, received instructions to "send Nelson's division direct to Clarksville and do not have it stop at Fort Donelson." Sherman passed the instructions to General Nelson, who got his transports underway, in company with USS Carondelet, up the Cumberland River, bound for the limit of his orders: Clarksville;
  • "Grant will send no more forces to Clarksville" -- beginning on, or just after 19 FEB, Brigadier General C.F. Smith and elements of his Second Division had occupied Clarksville. On 24 FEB U.S. Grant had loaded several of his "Heroes" of Fort Donelson aboard powerful towboat -- W.H.B. -- supposedly with intention of conducting an inspection of the Federal troops at Clarksville... but that inspection never occurred. And just a few days later, General Smith and several regiments assigned to Clarksville steamed to Nashville (after Grant met with Buell, and convinced him of the "need" to have sufficient forces on hand...)
  • "General Smith's division will come to Fort Henry" -- eventually... via visit to Nashville;
  • "Transports will be collected at Paducah" -- Halleck is making arrangements for the move up the Tennessee River; while Grant has made arrangements for a move up the Cumberland River (effective 24 FEB, the day before Halleck's telegram was sent)
  • "All the mortar boats to immediately be returned to Cairo" -- Foote would have snorted when he finally got to read this telegram, because mortars are what he had wanted since January -- before Fort Henry -- and these powerful weapons (perfect for besieging fortifications perched on bluffs) had arrived at Fort Donelson two days after Buckner surrendered. Foote had contacted Halleck, attempted to delay the Fort Donelson operation until the mortars (expected any day) arrived... but Halleck ordered the Operation to proceed, regardless. Afterwards, Foote expressed bitterness and disappointment to his closest associates, believing "mortars at Fort Donelson" would have done the job (without subjecting his gunboats to an unnecessary pounding -- see Life of Foote, pages 235 - 240 and especially 229 - 231)
  • "Two gunboats to precede Nelson's division up the river to Nashville" -- Halleck predicts the future... unintentionally
  • "Two gunboats to be left in the Tennessee River with General Grant" -- foreshadows assignment of USS Tyler and USS Lexington
  • "General Grant will immediately have small garrisons detailed for Forts Donelson and Henry, and all other forces made ready for the field" -- had U.S. Grant received this information a few days prior to 25 FEB, there is little doubt the Tennessee River Expedition would have launched sooner -- and possibly with different outcome. But, because Grant felt the Federal occupation of Nashville was being "unnecessarily delayed," he took it upon himself (with no other orders) to make the Occupation of Nashville happen... which embarrassed Buell (and set the stage for continued poor coordination in lead-up to Shiloh) and led to Halleck removing Grant from field command for a couple of weeks (with the piecemeal and ad hoc nature of the Tennessee River cum Corinth cum Battle of Shiloh experience, the result.)

Sometimes a brief telegram can say a lot

Ozzy

 

 

 

 

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image.png

[Cincinnati Daily Press of 17 FEB 1862 from Library of Congress, Chronicling America, announcing Capture of Fort Donelson.]

Following on the Victory over Fort Henry, with the Surrender of Fort Donelson only ten days later, the anticipation in the North was high:

 image.png  

[Daily Ohio Statesman of Columbus, Ohio 19 FEB 1862 page 3 col.4 "Rebels admit if we take Nashville, the Cause in Tennessee is lost."]

With newspaper pronouncements, such as above, there was greater value given to Nashville and her occupation than appropriate (even though Nashville was producing 400 pounds of gunpowder every day, and significant supplies of lead was mined, just away to the east.) Nashville's occupation by Northern commanders was viewed as a "prize just waiting to be collected" (with the lucky recipient of that prize accorded laurels and everlasting mention in History Books.) Northern newspapers promoted the Federal occupation of Nashville, and wondered at the delay... eventually jumping the gun on the actual event:

image.png

[Daily Ohio Statesman of 26 FEB page 3 col.2 announcing, "Nashville was taken February 24th... by Buell's forces."]

Brigadier General Buell was across the Cumberland River from Nashville on February 24th. And Nelson's Division was on its way aboard transports up the river (to arrive Nashville just before 9 a.m. on February 25th.)

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038121/1862-02-27/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1862&sort=date&rows=20&words=Tennessee&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=0&state=Ohio&date2=1862&proxtext=Tennessee&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=19  Gallipolis Journal of Ohio for 27 FEB page 3. Col.3 announcing, "All the fortified points in Tennessee -- Columbus, Nashville, Memphis -- to be given up." And an adjoining article announces, "Clarksville is occupied!"

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84028645/1862-02-27/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1862&sort=date&rows=20&words=Tennessee+TENNESSEE&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=7&state=Ohio&date2=1862&proxtext=Tennessee&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=19  Daily Ohio Statesman for 27 FEB page 3 Col.2 reports, "General McClellan has received confirmation that Nashville was taken by Buell's Army on February 25th."

image.png   [Cleveland Morning Leader of 3 MAR 1862 page 3 Col.8]

Because of Buell's capture of Nashville, he was promoted to Major General... (which is why it was inconvenient for U.S. Grant, or forces belonging to Grant to arrive at Nashville, first.)

Ozzy

References from Library of Congress, Chronicling America.

 

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image.png  ;  [Chicago Tribune of 28 FEB 1862, page 2 col.4 via Chronicling America.]

Thought the study of Grant's February 1862 visit to Nashville was complete, but one aspect of the sojourn remained unresolved: "Why did General Grant take along the commander of the First Division, John A. McClernand?"

By the time of the Surrender of Fort Donelson, the relationship between Grant and McClernand was well and truly on the skids. General Grant did not appreciate McClernand's self-serving after-battle reports (and may have suspected he was sending letters containing "who-knows-what" to President Lincoln.) And, although General McClernand redeemed himself at Fort Donelson (after Grant held him partially responsible for the near-success of the Confederate breakout attempt), the rally of McClernand's Division would not have been needed if McClernand's Division had properly anchored its right (where McArthur was incorrectly positioned) in the first instance.

So, why take McClernand to Nashville?

The above newspaper article, written by Chicago Tribune reporter, Franc Bangs Wilkie, explains, "McClernand had ties to influential political leaders at Clarksville -- in particular, Cave Johnson." Perhaps U.S. Grant felt that John McClernand could be of use, politically, in smoothing the way for Federal occupation of Nashville (by renewing acquaintance with old Democratic Party comrades.)

Or, perhaps it was simply a case of, "Keep your friends close; and keep your enemies closer."

Ozzy

N.B.  Along with Franc Bangs Wilkie, Henri Villard (reporter for the Associated Press) travelled to Nashville in company with Bull Nelson; and Whitelaw Reid may have made the voyage, as well (still looking for evidence.) Of interest, Stephen Hurlbut was left at Fort Donelson as "Acting Commander of Post," and John Rawlins remained behind at Fort Donelson as "Acting on General Grant's behalf." 

[The steamer "B" was usually called "WHB" although the towboat's name was W. H. Brown.]

 

 

 

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What about Colonel Webster?

Acting in senior capacity on General Grant's staff, it was assumed that Joseph D. Webster, who had assisted in occupation of Clarksville, had accompanied Grant and the senior commanders to Nashville aboard WHB... but such was not the case (as evidenced by following article dated 25 FEB 1862 from Cairo):

image.png  Plymouth (Indiana) Weekly Democrat for 27 FEB 1862, page 2 (at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov)

 

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One more curiosity about Grant's trip to Nashville...

As we all know, U. S. Grant was promoted to Major General on account of his Victory at Fort Donelson: President Lincoln recommended Grant for promotion, with the higher rank to be effective Date of the Surrender (16 February 1862). Of course, Grant had no way of knowing the President's actions, and so continued to sign his correspondence as "Brigadier General Grant" for over a week after Fort Donelson fell.

Of interest: the very first use by Grant of his new rank was on a memo left for "General Buell" at Nashville on 27 February 1862. Grant had attempted to meet Buell in Nashville, and left the memo at Buell's HQ and then returned to his flagship, the W.H.B. That memo was signed "U. S. Grant, Major General Commanding."

[See Papers of US Grant volume 4 pages 293 - 4.]

Ozzy

 

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Grant penned his stiffly worded letter to Buell and signed it, “Major-General, commanding” from the “Headquarters District of West Tennessee, Nashville,” as if that city were in his jurisdiction and not in his respondent’s departmental command. Oddly, Grant reverted to “Brigadier-General” when signing subsequent orders.

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Joe

Would it not seem odd, that an officer would gain significant promotion... and not tell anyone? Keep that promotion to himself; not release a "Special Orders" informing the men in his command; but instead, save that news for a specific instance... when it would have ultimate impact: to impress another officer (who until very recently was the ranking Brigadier General of the two.) How would that other officer, formerly superior (even at West Point) now find "the tables turned," confronted by the recipient of "such GREAT NEWS."

I have yet to find Brigadier General Buell's direct response (although subsequent reactions to that "great news, shared," abound.)

Personality conflict, writ large...

Ozzy

N.B.  In terms of Chess (check.) And in terms of Poker (dominate.)

 

 

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