| Posted: Mon Sep 24th, 2007 05:30 pm
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|If you are interested in a detailed analysis of the Tennessee River campaign that resulted in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson in early February 1862, go to:
http://www.nymas.org -- right sidebar -- scroll down
Although from my biography of Anna Ella Carroll, this is a thorough rendition of the military's and Lincoln administration's decision-making that includes groundbreaking information on Lincoln's and Stanton's involvement. It also shows a greater involvement by the navy, through Admiral Foote, than previously recognized, the importance of the construction of the mortar boats and really explains, for the first time, the meaning of Lincoln's War Order No. 1.
| Posted: Thu Feb 21st, 2008 07:04 am
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I previously have alerted members to my book chapter on the Tennessee River campaign that is part of my biography, Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815-1894 (Xlibris Corp.: xlibris.com). But since I sent the summary below to another forum, I've decided to make it available to CWI also.
I am presently reading the new combined biography, _Grant and Lee: Victorious American and Vanquished Virginian_, by Edward H. Bonekemper III (Praeger, 2008). When I reached the section (pp. 22-27) on the campaign for Forts Henry and Donelson (February 1862), I was disappointed to see yet another Civil War scholar almost solely crediting BG Ulysses S. Grant, USA, with this campaign (and make no mistake here, I’m a big fan of Grant). Even though the author does admit that Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, USN, captured Fort Henry, he describes Grant as the master mind and MG Henry W. Halleck, USA, only as Grant’s obstructor.
I am the author of _Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815-1894_ on Lincoln’s political advisor (Phila.: Xlibris, 2004). As such I assiduously researched the decision-making in this campaign for which Anna Ella Carroll also claimed credit, having operated with military secret agent Judge Lemuel D. Evans in St. Louis in the fall of 1861. Carroll submitted her plan* for the Tennessee River campaign, based on an interview with one of Grant’s riverboat captains, to Asst. Secretary of War Thomas A. Scott, dated November 30, 1861 (of which I have primary evidence). Scott took the plan to Lincoln and strong evidence, including a letter from Sen. Benjamin Wade, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, indicates that Edwin M. Stanton was appointed secretary of war to carry out Carroll’s plan. Stanton was confirmed on January 15.
But back to the battles of Forts Henry and Donelson. My whole Tennessee River campaign chapter is available on line at http://www.nymas.org—right side bar, scroll down. The decision-making for this campaign was complicated and involved not only Halleck, Grant, and Foote to a greater degree than previously known, but also AG Edward Bates, navy officials, Asst. SecWar Scott, Lincoln, Wade, Stanton, Carroll, Evans, and riverboat captain Charles Scott.
The most important point is that Bonekemper makes the same major mistake others have: he only uses Grant’s records and secondary sources to make Grant’s claim. He cites memos written by Grant to Halleck in late January 1862, urging Halleck to move on Fort Henry. This is true and Foote had written Halleck also. However earlier, on January 20, Halleck wrote General-in-Chief Geo. McClellan that the true line of advance was the line of the Tennessee and the Cumberland rivers:
The idea of moving down the Mississippi by steam is, in my opinion, impracticable, or at least premature. It is not a proper line of operations, at least now. A much more feasible plan is to move up the Cumberland and Tennessee, making Nashville the first objective point. This would turn Columbus and force the abandonment of Bowling Green. . . .This line of the Cumberland and Tennessee is the great central line of the Western theater of war. . . .But the plan should not be attempted without a large force, not less than 60,000 effective men.
. . . .The main central line will also require the withdrawal of all available troops from this State; also those in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio,. . .and also the transfer to that route or near it of all the Kentucky troops not required to secure the Green River.
Moreover, on January 29, Halleck responded to Foote stating: "I am waiting for General Smith's report on road from Smithland to Fort Henry. As soon as that is received I will give orders. Meanwhile, have everything ready." Foote replied the same day that he would be ready on Saturday and would leave as soon as possible, depending on the water levels of the river.
However, during this the same time in Washington, Lincoln had been corresponding with Foote, receiving his daily reports about the construction of the mortar boats that could only be used on the Mississippi, not the Tennessee River, in conjunction with the ironclad gunboats and transports. On January 26, Lincoln learned that the mortar boats would not be completed soon and Asst. SecNav Gustavus Fox confided to Foote that Lincoln was taking “this matter into his own hands” and that there had been a “change in Programme.” So on January 27, Lincoln issued General War Order No. 1, that called for a whole east-west movement of US troops, including Grant’s and Foote’s flotilla at Cairo, Illinois, on February 22. I believe this indicated that Lincoln was changing the invasion route from the Mississippi to the Tennessee River, based on Carroll’s plan. The lack of mortar boats made the planned Mississippi River invasion impossible, if troops were to move soon.
But events intervened. Again on January 29, McClellan sent Halleck information that a deserter had come in from the field, saying that P. G. T. Beauregard was going West to reinforce Confed. Gen. Albert S. Johnston, the commander in Kentucky and Tennessee. As a result on January 30, Halleck ordered Grant and Foote to immediately move on Fort Henry and informed McClellan of such. On the night of the 29th, per Stanton’s order, Asst. SecWar Thomas A. Scott left for the West to organize reinforcements from all over the Midwest for Grant.
So my summary conclusion regarding this campaign is that Halleck and Lincoln were planning the campaign separately and simultaneously with out each others’ knowledge. There is no evidence that McClellan shared Halleck’s views on the Tennessee line with Lincoln. Thus Anna Ella Carroll was the only person who recommended the Tennessee River invasion route to Lincoln. Had not the Lincoln administration supplied Halleck with the needed reinforcements, the campaign may have failed. Years later when going through congressional hearings to try to obtain reimbursement for monies owed for her political publications, Carroll was supported by Asst. SecWar Scott in a letter submitted into testimony. See below.
This is not to argue that Carroll deserves the real credit for the campaign, as in war, it’s implementation that counts and plans often sit in desk drawers gathering dust. Halleck, Grant and Foote clearly deserve the lion’s share of the credit for the first “real” US victories, as Sherman later wrote, at Forts Henry and Donelson. And it’s clear that Halleck would have ordered the move soon regardless. However. Carroll’s plan helped achieve a consensus between Washington and the field as to the correct strategy and the technical details of her plan would have built confidence in Halleck’s move. But most important were the reinforcements that Washington mobilized for Grant. In previous wires Halleck had complained about lack of troops and it was all he could do to hold the state of Missouri. Moreover this massive reinforcement demonstrates that the Tennessee River campaign was not a solitary tactical venture, but the beginning of the full Western Union invasion into the heartland of the Confederacy.
C. Kay Larson, independent scholar/author
Asst. Secretary of War Thomas A. Scott’s congressional testimony:
PHILADELPHIA, May 1, 1872
My Dear Sir: I take pleasure in stating that the plan presented by Miss Carroll, in November, 1861, for a campaign upon the Tennessee River and thence South, was submitted to the Secretary of War and President Lincoln. And after Secretary Stanton's appointment, I was directed to go to the Western armies and arrange to increase their effective force as rapidly as possible. A part of the duty assigned me was the organization and consolidation into regiments of all the troops then being recruited in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, for the purpose of carrying through this campaign, then inaugurated.
This work was vigorously prosecuted by the army, and, as the valuable suggestions of Miss Carroll, made to the Department some months before, were substantially carried out through the campaigns in that section--great successes followed, and the country was largely benefitted in the saving of time and expenditure.
I hope Congress will reward Miss Carroll liberally for her patriotic efforts and services.
Very Truly, yours,
THOMAS A. SCOTT
Hon. Henry Wilson. Chairman, Military Committee, U. S. Senate 34.
* Text: Anna Ella Carroll’s Tennessee River plan, Nov. 30, 1861, submitted to Asst. SecWar Thomas A. Scott
The civil and military authorities seem to be laboring under a great mistake in regard to the true key of the war in the Southwest. It is not the Mississippi but the Tennessee river. All the military preparations made in the West indicate that the Mississippi river is the point to which the authorities are directing their attention. On that river many battles must be fought and heavy risks incurred before any impression can be made on the enemy, all of which could be avoided by using the Tennessee river. This river is navigable for middle class boats to the foot of the Muscle Shoals in Alabama, and is open to navigation all the year, while the distance is but two hundred and fifty miles by the river from Paducah, on the Ohio. The Tennessee offers many advantages over the Mississippi. We should avoid the almost impregnable batteries of the enemy, which cannot be taken without great danger and great risk of life to our forces, from the fact that our boats, if crippled, would fall a prey to the enemy by being swept by the current to him, and away from the relief of our friends. But even should we succeed, still we will only have begun the war, for we shall then have to fight the country from whence the enemy derives his supplies.
Now, an advance up the Tennessee river would avoid this danger; for, if our boats were crippled, they would drop back with the current and escape capture.
But a still greater advantage would be its tendency to cut the enemy's lines in two, by reaching the Memphis and Charleston railroad, threatening Memphis, which lies one hundred miles due west, and no defensible point between; also Nashville, only ninety miles northeast, and Florence and Tuscumbia, in North Alabama, forty miles east. A movement in this direction would do more to relieve our friends in Kentucky, and inspire the loyal hearts in East Tennessee than the possession of the whole of the [M]ississippi river. If well ex[e]cuted, it would cause the evacuation of all the formidable fortifications upon which the rebels ground their hopes for success; and, in the event of our fleet attacking Mobile, the presence of our troops in the northern part of Alabama would be material aid to the fleet.
Again, the aid our forces would receive from the loyal men in Tennessee would enable them soon to crush the last traitor in that region, and the separation of the two extremes would do more than one hundred battles for the Union cause.
The Tennessee river is crossed by the Memphis and Louisville railroad and the Memphis and Nashville railroad. At Hamburg the river makes the big bend on the east, touching the northeast corner of Mississippi, entering the northwest corner of Alabama, forming an arc to the south, entering the State of Tennessee at the northeast corner of Alabama, and if it does not touch the northwest corner of Georgia, comes very near it. It is but eight miles from Hamburg to Memphis and Charleston railroad, which goes through Tuscumbia, only two miles from the river, which it crosses at Decatur, thirty miles above, intersecting with the Nashville and Chattanooga road at Stephenson. The Tennessee river has never less than three feet to Hamburg on the ‘shoalest’ bar, and, during the fall, winter, and spring months, there is always water for the largest boats that are used on the Mississippi river. It follows from the above facts that in making the Mississippi the key to the war in the West, or rather in overlooking the Tennessee river, the subject is not understood by the superiors in command. 13.
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