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Perry Neal

Ft Donelson

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Well its snowing in Tennessee today kinda goes along with the battle of Donelson its almost the anniversary and since there are no replies i thought i would talk a little on it .Two great leaders at Donelson Grant and Forrest who exploited the gap in the union line where the confederate army could have walked out but returned to the trenches instead Forrest wanted to hit that gap but poor leadership prevailed when the plan was to surrender he couldnt believe it replying he didnt come here to surrender he took his men and went out untouched just think what about 17,000 confederates could have done on that first day at shiloh 17,000 fresh troops late on that sunday evening. Now what about ol U.S. Grant he pretty much made the Donelson move on his on. He was on the gunboat with Foote that day of the confederate attack he returned to find his army in trouble it seemed the thing to do was dig in entrenching tools were arriving on one of the boats but Grant noticed some rebel prisnors who were carring 3 days rations and full cartige boxes his suborinates thought they were getting ready to fight but it hit him they were more interested in getting out. What it Grant had of dug in like most would have how long could he have stayed a seige.How long would it have took Halleck to replace him he was wanting to awful bad not long i bet. How would this have affected shiloh without a Grant and more importley how long woud it have took Linclon to have found another fighter like Grant:)

perry neal

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Hi Perry,

Good post. A lot of ironies where Fort Donelson and Shiloh are concerned, aren't there? The Confederates had a good chance to hit Grant in the flank before he was all the way up to the fort, then missed a chance to escape while they still could. Either event would have had a major impact on Shiloh, assuming it even still took place.

I think Larry Daniel makes a statement in his book, when talking about the 2:00 p.m. attack that Johnston led near the Peach Orchard, that it would have been the perfect time to have unleashed his Fort Donelson veterans. Not sure Grant's army could have withstood that, if Johnston had had those men available.

It's a good question about Grant. It brings up what for me is another irony, which is the fact that Halleck, who seemed to be absolutely chomping at the bit to be rid of Grant prior to Shiloh, was all but handed the chance to be rid of him after that battle, but didn't take it. It could be that he didn't want to risk crossing Lincoln again, after what happened following Fort Donelson. Maybe that's why he "elevated" Grant to second-in-command, then just ignored him.

Speaking of snow at Fort Donelson, I have the transcribed diary from a member of the 11th Indiana, which was present at Fort Donelson, and I think it's his entry for February 14th where he closes by saying, "Words cannot describe how cold cold it is." He repeated the word "cold" twice, just like that. I've often wondered if he realized it at the time, or if the thought of how frigidly cold it was just pervaded his mind so much he wrote it twice without realizing it.

We'll definetely have to discuss Fort Donelson and the other events leading up to the battle some more.

Perry

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Guest 23rd tenn

Perry N,

You bring up some great points concerning Grant, I'm not sure if he would have caught any grief from anyone  over conducting a siege or not. Foote's gunboats had taken a beating and any frontal assaults would have racked up huge casualties, so I think everyone would have known the union would have to soften the confederates up first.  I do think if Floyd, Pillow and Johnson would have been determined to hold the fort instead surrendering so soon that Halleck might have replaced him right after the attempted breakout. Grants army was thrashed very good and if not for C F Smith probably wouldn't have captured the outer works when they did.

Now as to who Lincoln could have turned to if Grant would have been cashiered  before Donelson surrendered, I'm not sure he would have found anyone.  Grant had the uncannying ability of not giving  up because of a setback.  Go back and look at most battles that he fought and you'll see that he more often than not he got beat. Where other generals would fall back and regroup Grant would just keep on coming. To me Grant and Sherman were the only two generals the north had that realized you could beat them tactically, but strategically they knew they could out last whatever the south threw at them.

If Grant wouldn't have been the union commander at Shiloh it's my opinion the union army would have retreated the night of April 6th.

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I believe your right 23tenn without Grant at shiloh the federals would have withdrew and the war probably would have lasted longer . Then you have the if A.S. Johnston had of lived thrown in there:)

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One aspect of the 'Defense of Fort Donelson' I did not realize: the Confederates had sunk several old steamers and barges downriver from Dover, effectively blocking the channel of the Cumberland River to vessels approaching from the Ohio River. Also, it appears these 'barriers to navigation' were put in place in 'no-longer-neutral' Kentucky, in November 1861. [see links, below.]

 

Effective barrier against Union gunboats... as long as the river did not flood.

 

Ozzy

 

 

http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;idno=ofre0022;node=ofre0022%3A3;view=image;seq=827;size=100;page=root

 

http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1861-11.pdf   Pages 4-5

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