bearing on the river—and was manned by a force of two brigades, amounting to ‘two thousand six hundred and ten men, only one third of whom had been at all disciplined or well armed.’1
The position of Fort Donelson
was no better, and its works were incomplete, until inspected and strengthened by Colonel Gilmer
, on the 3d and following days of February.2
Its armament consisted of thirteen guns, two of them heavy ones.
Had a reasonable portion of the time and labor misspent upon Columbus
and Bowling Green
been applied to the construction of proper defensive works on the Tennessee
, and had the guns not required at the former places been added to those of the two forts and of other works on both rivers, our resistance at Henry
, if not finally successful, would have certainly afforded us ample time to retire with the whole of our forces, and to preserve, unaffected by too crushing a defeat, the morale
of our troops, and the confidence of our people in the cause we were fighting for. It is even likely that, with sufficient energy, a system of works might have been constructed, after General Johnston
's assumption of command, at the narrowest part of the neck of land where the rivers flow less than three miles apart, and nearly on a line with Bowling Green
These would have given us complete command of the two rivers, and might have been defended by a limited force which could have been rapidly reinforced by boats held ready for the purpose, at Cumberland city
, on the Cumberland River
, or at Benton
, where the Memphis
and Louisville Railroad crosses the Tennessee River
Under the circumstances, to prevent the loss of the Tennessee River
, by which the whole country (including Columbus
) north of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad was turned, and that great line of communication immediately exposed, the only course for General Johnston
was to concentrate, at the proper time, at Henry
, and, for that purpose, to hold his forces and means of transportation well in hand, so as to be ready, at a moment's notice, to avail himself of his extraordinary advantages of communication by rail and water between his centre and wings.
could have been opportunely met, and certainly crushed with superior numbers.
After the fall of Henry this plan of concentration was again imperative for the regaining of the Tennessee