Fort Donelson discussion
The most authoritative modern study of the Henry-Donelson campaign
is the book by Benjamin Cooling. His maps and text make it clear
that Lew Wallace was used to cover a large gap between
McClernand and CF Smith.
Allow me to make a larger point, which I suspect most of the participants
are aware of. Facts require a context for proper interpretation. To say
that I shot John Doe (I hope no one with that name is reading this :-)
is a fact, but the interpretation of the fact changes if we know that
John Doe was breaking into my house, or assaulting my wife, or
having an affair with my wife, or simply walking down the street
on a sunny day.
What does my hypothetical murder of John Doe have to do with
this discussion? Well, it a fact that the Union line did not reach
far enough to completely seal off the River Road leading out of
the Fort Donelson position. But our interpretation of that fact
changes (IMO) based on our knowledge of the disposition and
size of the Federal force. The failure to cover all the way to the
river (a fact) was not in any way a "blunder" or "gaffe" on Grant's
part (this is an interpretation), but instead was the result of his not
having enough troops to do the job properly.