Friday, February 6, 2009

Opening The Tennessee River

In western Tennessee on February 6th 1862 the Battle of Fort Henry was fought.

Fort Henry was a Confederate earthen fort located on the Tennessee River. February of 1862 found the fort partly under water from the flooded river. General Ulysses S Grant began to land his troops north of the Fort, in two places, one on the east bank of the Tennessee River and the other on the higher ground on the Kentucky side of the river, on February 4th and 5th . On February 6th 1862 the Battle opened with Flag-Officer Andrew Hull Foote’s gunboats bombing the fort. Grant’s plan was to attack at the same time, however it turned out to be primarily a naval battle.

The commander of Fort Henry, General Lloyd Tilghman, knew it would be just a matter of time before the fort fell. There were only nine big guns above the water and usable. He left artillery at the fort to hold off the Union fleet, while the rest of the garrison went the ten miles to the safety of Fort Donelson. Tilgman returned to Fort Henry and surrendered to the fleet. The whole battle lasted only about 75 minutes. The fall of Fort Henry opened up the Tennessee River for shipping all the way to Muscle Shoals, AL.

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