Thursday, February 2, 2012
In early 1862, the Confederate position through Kentucky and beyond centered on two forts, Forts Henry and Donelson. They were a few miles apart just over the border in Tennesse and were to defend the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. If the Northern forces held these positions, they could use the rivers to invade deep into Confederate territory. The Southern commander of these important positions was Brigader General Tilghman, who had 4,000 men.
The Union command was disorganized, with Buell over the Department of the Ohio and Halleck over the Department of Missouri vying for the attention of their superiors. General Ulysses S. Grant, Halleck's subordinate, proposed a plan to capture Fort Henry. Halleck approved it, since it would be in accordance with Lincoln's order a few days before, and he hoped it would gain him the aprobation of Lincoln.
Just three days after having his plan approved, Grant departed from Cairo, Illinois. His 15,000 – 17,000 men embarked on ships, which would take them within a few miles of the Fort. He was accompained by Flag Officer Andrew Foote with four new ironclads and three wooden gunboats.