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the winter months, is a delusion. All the resources of the Confederacy are now needed for the defense of Tennessee. With great respect, etc., A. S. Johnston. At the time of the attack upon Fort Henry, it had been well fortified, though not strongly enough for the force brought against it. Hoppin, in his Life of Foote, following Lossing, says: It lay in a bend of the stream, and was at times almost surrounded by water; its guns commanded a reach of the river below, toward Panther Island, for about two miles. It was a strong earthwork, constructed with much scientific skill, covering ten acres, with five bastions from four to six feet high, the embrasures knitted firmly together with sand-bags. If the work was not strong, the responsibility rested chiefly with the officer in charge, General Tilghman, who had been in immediate command for two months and a half. Lieutenant-Colonel J. F. Gilmer was ordered by General Johnston, January 29th, to proceed to Fort Henry
Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buell, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: The Opening Battles. Volume 1., The gun-boats at Belmont and Fort Henry. (search)
, which opposed our progress, swept away in broad daylight this hidden peril; for if the torpedoes had not been disturbed, or had broken loose at night while we were shoving the drift-wood from our bows, some of them would surely have exploded near or under our vessels. The 6th dawned mild and cheering, with a light breeze, sufficient to clear away the smoke. At 10:20 the flag-officer made the signal to prepare for battle, and at 10:50 came the order to get under way and steam up to Panther Island, about two miles below Fort Henry. At 11:35, having passed the foot of the island, we formed in line and approached the fort four abreast, the Essex on the right, then the Cincinnati, Carondelet, and St. Louis. For want of room the last two were interlocked, and remained so during the fight. As we slowly passed up this narrow stream, not a sound could be heard nor a moving object seen in the dense woods which overhung the dark and swollen river. The gun-crews of the Carondelet sto
Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field Book of the Civil War. Volume 2., Chapter 7: military operations in Missouri, New Mexico, and Eastern Kentucky--capture of Fort Henry. (search)
Stewart County, Tennessee, was to be the first object of attack. It lay at a bend of that stream, and its guns commanded a reach of the river below it toward Panther Island, for about two miles, in a direct line. The fort was an irregular field-work, with five bastions, the embrasures revetted with sand-bags. It was armed with will be no Fort Henry--our gunboats will dispose of it. --Not a bit of it, was the reply; they will all be blown up before they get past the Island --meaning Panther Island. The scouts threatened to carry her away a prisoner if she did not tell all she knew about them, when she told them that torpedoes had been planted all alongtreaties. He was too good a soldier to divide his column. It was at half-past 12 o'clock at noon when the gun-boats opened fire. The flotilla had passed Panther Island by the western channel, and the Interior of Fort Henry. armored vessels had taken position diagonally across the river, with the unarmored gun-boats Tyler,
either division, as might be necessary to counteract our movements. The point selected for fortification on the Tennessee, is about ninety miles from the Ohio River, at Pine Bluff Landing, on the east side, where, in addition to the strong battery commanding the river, there was an entrenched camp, protected on both flanks by creeks and a pond, and on the river by felled trees, for a long distance. The river at this point runs nearly due north. A mile and a quarter below the Fort is Panther Island, heavily wooded. The channel on the east side of the island is impassable at low water, the main channel being on the west side. The rebel engineer, therefore, in constructing the work, arranged the angles and faces to command the main channel, but had taken into account the contingency of high water, and had planted torpedoes in the east passage, which were fished up by Commodore Foote without difficulty. Three were first taken up, and all but one were found to be so moist that they
uns, Lieutenant Commanding J. W. Shirk, United States Navy, and Tyler, seven guns, Lieutenant Commanding W. Gwin, United States Navy. Fort Henry is situated on the left bank of the river, at a point one and a half miles above the head of Panther Island, on a bend which the river makes at that point to the west. There is a channel on either side of the island; the eastern or main channel is for the greater part of its length within sight of the rebel guns, while the approach by the western o quarters, there came a silence, interrupted only by the laborious puffing of the steamers. On moved the fleet not a word was spoken.--The silence was suggestive, almost oppressive; but it was of short duration. In a short time the head of Panther Island was reached by the first our boats, and the rebel fortifications, with rebellion in brilliant colors floating over them, were in full view. The boats moved into line of battle, and at thirty-six minutes past twelve the flag-ship opened fire,