This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday, Feb. 11 1862

Repeating the pairing that had been sucessful in the attack on Fort Henry, Gen. McClernand set out at the head of Grant’s land forces as Flag Officer Foote’s gunboats took the longer water route. The boats had to go back down the Tennessee River to Paducah, up the Ohio a brief way, then up the Cumberland River to Donelson. The land route was only about 10 miles, which sounded unimpressive until the soldiers saw what awful land it was to try to traverse.

Wednesday, Feb. 11 1863

Supplies were getting to be a problem everywhere in the South--even for the Northern naval forces holding the blockade line. On the Mississippi, Admiral D.D. Porter was having severe difficulties keeping his ships’ boilers supplied with coal. He ordered an extra 16,000 bushels of coal delivered to him on the Yazoo River from Cairo, Il, besides the normal monthly allotment, but had no assurance of getting either shipment, or any at all. Freezing on the rivers was nearly as big a problem as Confederate fire.

Thursday, Feb. 11 1864

President Jefferson Davis sent an urgent letter to Gen. Joseph Johnston today, imploring that the Federal advance into Mississippi be stopped at all costs. His fear was that Sherman would get through to the Gulf and establish a base. Sherman in fact had no such plan, but he was moving on Meridian, Miss., while Gen. W. Sooy Smith’s column was moving from Memphis to Collierville, Tenn.

Saturday, Feb. 11 1865

The Confederacy had two groups of forces on either side of Sherman’s army marching through South Carolina: one on the coast in Charleston and the other in Augusta Ga. Neither was of sufficient size to offer any real opposition. There were differences of opinion as to how to proceed: President Davis advised uniting the two groups in Charleston and fighting Sherman there; Gen. Beauregard advocating evacuating Charleston and saving the men to fight another day. The South, he said, could not afford to lose another army. The fact that the South could not afford to lose many more major cities was, presumably, something he tried not to think about.

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