20475[civilwarwest] new member intro
- Oct 3, 1999Good day to all. I have been a member for a month or so but haven't
been able to visit at all as the summer is my busiest time of the year.
I have been researching the history of the 23d Mississippi Infantry
Regiment. It all started with a copy of a letter my great-frandfather
wrote in which he breifly detailed the places he visited during the
war. Not being from the south I thought is would be "fun" to look on a
map to se whre these places he visited were located. That was six
years ago. I couldn't find much on the map. What I did find was more
questions which, of course, led to more and more questions which needed
answers. It is a never ending quest.
As I have introduced myself I must pose a question relating to Fort
Donelson. The question is, simply, does the following statement make
sense? If not, where have I missed sometning? My premise is the
strategy devised by Genreal Grant and Commodore Foote was to trick
Johnston into believing an invasion of the Mississippi River was about
On January 7, 1862, an elaborate series of deceptive troop movements
begins southward towards Columbus.
Commodore Foote makes a reconnaissance with 3 gunboats down the
Mississippi to within 2 miles of Columbus.
At the same time Grant sends General McClernand with 5000 troops and
two batteries of light artillery on another reconnaissance in the
general direction of Columbus. McClernand eventually takes a position
commanding the road between Paducah and Columbus.
At this point Grant (also with 5000 troops) joins McClernand and moves
the now 10,000 man force to a point 10 miles east of Columbus. This
troop movement should have appeared to be an expedition to cut supply
lines between Columbus and its supply depot, Union City.
While this was going on, another 5000 troops under the command of
General Smith leaves Cairo in the general direction of Columbus.
Once Confederate scouts reported communication links had been
established between Grant, McClernand, and Smith, this charade should
have appeared to be the beginnings of a major campaign to gain control
of the Mississippi River.
Already prepared for exactly this kind of attack, Johnston should have
done nothing...and he did nothing.
As luck would have it, President Lincoln had ordered a general military
advance southward all along the front from the Atlantic seaboard to the
Mississippi River to take place around the first of February.
Movement was occurring everywhere. All Confederate forces were on
alert and commanders were hesitant to release their reserve troops to
support others weakened by Federal attacks.
Suddenly, on January 21, Grant returns his entire expedition to Cairo.
When General Johnston hears about this sudden move a few days later,
he correctly concludes Forts Henry and Donelson were the targets all
along, but time is against him. Reasonably certain the fall of Forts
Henry and Donelson was only a matter of time, and knowing he could not
hold Kentucky without the forts in Confederate possession, Johnston
abandons Bowling Green and moves his thirty thousand men to Nashville.
Around the 1st of February troops including D. W. Wade were ordered
out of winter quarters and sent to Fort Donelson via Clarksville,
Kentucky. This was movement of the troops towards Fort Donelson. The
23rd Regiment arrived on Feb 7.
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