Grant Invades Tennessee
The 1862 Battles for Forts Henry and Donelson
Timothy B. Smith
Winner: Tennessee History Book Award
“A splendid work of Civil War history.”
—Journal of Illinois History
“Smith has provided scholars with a definitive history of Grant’s pivotal campaign to enable the Union invasion of the Confederate western theater and has filled a vast hole in Civil War military historiography.”
—Journal of Southern HistorySee all reviews...
“Smith offers a comprehensive tactical study of the Union victories that launched the career of Ulysses S. Grant, the then little-known commander of the Army of the Tennessee.”
—Missouri Historical Review
“Smith, author of earlier works on Shiloh and Corinth, makes some conclusions that are both obvious and yet long overlooked about the opening bout of Grant’s 1862 campaign. [He] offers interesting profiles of the commanders, a number of well written battle pieces, and many insights into the military and social institutions of the day. This is a valuable read for anyone seriously interested in the Civil War.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
“The vigorous research and persuasive narrative style of Grant Invades Tennessee proves that Tim Smith remains the go-to historian for the Civil War in western Tennessee.”
—Civil War Times
“Smith’s combination of a concise military history and an artful narrative presents the campaign in a way that will appeal to both Civil War experts and novices.”
—Civil War News
“Many historians have regarded the fall of Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862 as the real “turning point” of the Civil War, and with good cause. By taking them, U. S. Grant opened up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers as arteries of invasion into the deepest heartland of the South. Using them, he and his generals began carving the Confederacy into more easily digested pieces until they all but devoured everything between the Appalachians and the Mississippi. Timothy B. Smith’s outstanding new book is far and away the best and most detailed study to date, backed by intimidatingly deep research, and informed by mature judgments. It must instantly become an indispensable source for scholars, and an engrossing narrative for armchair historians.”
—William C. Davis is most recently author of Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee-the War they Fought, the Peace they Forged
“Victories at Fort Henry and Donelson in February 1862 were the first major steps on the North's long, hard road to victory in the Western theater. They also demonstrated how effective properly executed joint operations could be during the Civil War and served to catapult an obscure, but eminently able general named Ulysses S. Grant to prominence. In Grant Invades Tennessee, Timothy B. Smith provides a superb account of the operations that determined the fate of Henry and Donelson, one that is as effective in chronicling the harsh conditions the men in the ranks endured during the campaign as it is in explaining the command decisions that shaped its outcome. Compellingly written and thoroughly researched, this is not only the new standard study of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, but a work that belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War enthusiast. ”
—Ethan S. Rafuse, author of Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863–1865
“Timothy Smith delivers another outstanding work on the Civil War in the West. Vast in its resources and beautifully written, this work makes an excellent case that the western theater produced far more lasting change than previously thought. The Confederates never overcame the losses at Forts Henry and Donelson and Smith’s fast-paced narrative provides an outstanding tactical examination of how Ulysses S. Grant finally arrived at 'Unconditional and Immediate Surrender’. This is battle history at its finest.”
—Stephen Engle, author of Don Carlos Buell: Most Promising of All
“Tim Smith follows his definitive book on Shiloh with this seminal study on Forts Henry and Donelson and shows convincingly why these battles were so crucial to the outcome of the Civil War.”
—John F. Marszalek, Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University.
“Once more Timothy Smith has provided students of the Civil War with a detailed recounting of a pivotal Union victory in the Western Theater. This volume rescues the capture of Fort Henry from obscurity and reminds us that this campaign not only resulted in the surrender of a large number of Confederates to a new national hero, but that it also opened the way for future major offensives that would do much to secure Union victory. A must read for anyone interested in this Yankee triumph and the rise of Ulysses S. Grant.”
—Brooks D. Simpson, co-author of Victors in Blue: How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil WarSee fewer reviews...
Winner: Emerging Civil War Book Award
Winner: Douglas Southall Freeman History Award
When General Ulysses S. Grant targeted Forts Henry and Donelson, he penetrated the Confederacy at one of its most vulnerable points, setting in motion events that would elevate his own status, demoralize the Confederate leadership and citizenry, and, significantly, tear the western Confederacy asunder. More to the point, the two battles of early 1862 opened the Tennessee River campaign that would prove critical to the ultimate Union victory in the Mississippi Valley. In Grant Invades Tennessee, award-winning Civil War historian Timothy B. Smith gives readers a battlefield view of the fight for Forts Henry and Donelson, as well as a critical wide-angle perspective on their broader meaning in the conduct and outcome of the war. The first comprehensive tactical treatment of these decisive battles, this book completes the trilogy of the Tennessee River campaign that Smith began in Shiloh and Corinth 1862, marking a milestone in Civil War history.
Whether detailing command-level decisions or using eye-witness anecdotes to describe events on the ground, walking readers through maps or pulling back for an assessment of strategy, this finely written work is equally sure on matters of combat and context. Beginning with Grant’s decision to bypass the Confederates’ better-defended sites on the Mississippi, Smith takes readers step-by-step through the battles: the employment of a flotilla of riverine war ships along with infantry and land-based artillery in subduing Fort Henry; the lesser effectiveness of this strategy against Donelson’s much stronger defense, weaponry, and fighting forces; the surprise counteroffensive by the Confederates and the role of their commanders’ incompetence and cowardice in foiling its success. Though casualties at the two forts fell far short of bloodier Civil War battles to come, the importance of these Union victories transcend battlefield statistics. Grant Invades Tennessee allows us, for the first time, to clearly see how and why.