Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers


The trip begins at Fort Donelson, TN the scene of Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's victory and his demand for "unconditional surrender."  Please click on link below for map.  Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, Tennessee, United States

After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson. On February 16, 1862, after the failure of their all-out attack aimed at breaking through Grantís lines, the fortís 12,000-man garrison surrendered unconditionally. This was a major victory for Grant and a catastrophe for the South. It ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

From Fort Donelson drive southwest on route 79 to route 45 bypass to Jackson. Jackson was the site of a minor engagement between Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry and Union forces  From Jackson drive south to route 64 and head east to the National Park Service Shiloh, TN Battlefield Please click on link below for map. Shiloh National Military Park (national military park), Tennessee, United States

After the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in the area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky and much of West and Middle Tennessee. He chose Corinth, Mississippi, a major transportation center, as the staging area for an offensive against Grant and his Army of the Tennessee before the Army of the Ohio, under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, could join with Grant. In response to the Confederate move, Grant led his 40,000 men toward Pittsburg Landing. Grant received orders to await Buellís Army of the Ohio at Pittsburg Landing.  The Confederates attacked the Union troops on the morning of the 6th and routed many of them.  Some Federals made determined stands and by afternoon, they had established a battle line at the sunken road, known as the ďHornets Nest.Ē Repeated Confederate attacks failed to carry the Hornets Nest, but massed artillery helped to turn the tide as Confederates surrounded the Union troops and captured, killed, or wounded most.  Johnston had been mortally wounded earlier and his second in command, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, took over. The Union troops established another line covering Pittsburg Landing, anchored with artillery and augmented by Buellís men who began to arrive and take up positions. Fighting continued until after dark, but the Federals held. By the next morning, the combined Federal forces numbered about 40,000, outnumbering Beauregardís army of less than 30,000. Beauregard was unaware of the arrival of Buellís army and launched a counterattack in response to a two-mile advance by William Nelsonís division of Buellís army at 6:00 am, which was, at first, successful. Union troops stiffened and began forcing the Confederates back. Beauregard ordered a counterattack, which stopped the Union advance but did not break its battle line. At this point, Beauregard realized that he could not win and, having suffered too many casualties, he retired from the field and headed back to Corinth.

Visit the Shiloh, TN battlefield and learn more about the battle. 

From the Shiloh battlefield drive south on route 22 and route 45 to Corinth, MS.

Explore the Corinth, MS battlefields (Corinth, MS I - April 29-June 10, 1862 and Corinth, MS II - October 3-4, 1862).  

Please click on link below for map.

Corinth, Mississippi, United States

Following the Union victory at Shiloh, the Union armies under Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck advanced toward the rail center at Corinth, MS. By May 25, 1862, after moving 5 miles in 3 weeks, Halleck was in position to lay siege to the town. The preliminary bombardment began, and Union forces maneuvered for position. On the evening of May 29-30th, Confederate commander Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard evacuated Corinth and moved his troops to Tupelo.

In addition to the battle described above another battle occurred at Corinth in October 1862 as part of the Iuka and Corinth Campaign. Please see the Iuka, MS (September 19, 1862) and Corinth, MS II (October 3-4, 1862) battle summaries for more information.

Visit the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center to learn more about the battles.

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Revised 04/06/2013