Fort Henry and Fort Donelson
Fort Henry, along the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, were two forts built to protect Tennessee and the Deep South from invasion. Unfortunately the two forts proved to be right in the way of the driving General Grant. On Feb. 6, 1862, Grant and Flag Officer Foote captured Fort Henry.
In a joint army/navy operation, Grant's 17,000 men assembled, and were transported by 13 transports under Andrew Foote, along with nine gun boats. Grant's men landed about three miles south of Fort Henry, while the boats chugged on to the fort. Within an hour of arrival, the ironclad had forced the fort into submission.
The next day, Grant marched his unexperienced 15,000 men the twelve miles to Fort Donelson. Grant's men struggled through the Fort's preliminary defenses, a wasteland of sharpened felled trees with numerous clearings for defenders to shoot at attackers. After this, there were numerous rifle pits. The fort itself was on a bluff along the river, with a dozen artillery guns facing the attackers.
After two days the ships arrived and the assault began. Although poorly trained, the Confederate gunners did surprisingly well against the Union ironclads, disabling 4 ironclads, and causing numerous casualties, and taking none of their own. After ninety minutes the ships withdrew.
That night was a harsh one, and there were several casualties due to exposure. The next day the North pierced enemy lines, and that evening the Confederates surrendered,. A letter from commanding officer Buckner requested a conditional surrender. Grant denied this, and demanded immediate unconditional surrender. Buckner complied.