The River Batteries at Fort Donelson

Construction, Armament and Battles, 1861–1862

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About the Book

Unprepared for invasion, Tennessee joined the Confederacy in June 1861. The state’s long border and three major rivers with northern access made defense difficult. Cutting through critical manufacturing centers, the Cumberland River led directly to the capital city of Nashville. To thwart Federal attack, engineers hastily constructed river batteries as part of the defenses that would come to be known as Fort Donelson, downstream near the town of Dover. Ulysses S. Grant began moving up the rivers in early 1862. In last-minute desperation, two companies of volunteer infantry and a company of light artillerymen were deployed to the hastily constructed batteries. On February 14, they slugged it out with four City-class ironclads and two timber-clads, driving off the gunboats with heavy casualties, while only losing one man. This book details the construction, armament, and battle for the Fort Donelson river batteries.

About the Author(s)

M. Todd Cathey has been a student of the American Civil War for 30+ years. He lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Ricky W. Robnett, a retired electric utility worker, lives in Dickson, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

M. Todd Cathey and Ricky W. Robnett

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 187
Bibliographic Info: 61 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8590-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4338-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
1. “Locate and construct defensive works” 3
2. “There was not more than half enough men on all boats at Cairo” 13
3. “The people of Kentucky are profoundly astonished” 23
4. “To arms! Fellow countrymen, to arms!” 28
5. “Push forward the completion of the works and their armament with the utmost activity” 41
6. “It has nothing to prepossess a man favorably unless wind is a recommendation” 48
7. “I think we can tan them up here if they come” 52
8. “I have found out as mutch about the army as I want to” 63
9. “Don’t you see the gunboats coming?” 73
10. “The boat was diabolically inspired and knew the most opportune times to annoy us” 82
11. “Come on you cowardly scoundrels, you are not at Fort Henry” 89
Epilogue: “One of the bravest acts recorded in warfare” 103
Appendix 1. Biographies of Key People Associated with the Fort Donelson River Batteries 117
Appendix 2. Casualties in the Fight for the River Batteries 141
Appendix 3. Ordnance Received for the River Batteries at Fort Donelson, Tennessee 143
Chapter Notes 145
Bibliography 167
Index 173