This peculiar order, issued early after Stanton's accession to the office of war secretary, and in the midst of winter, betrayed the impatience as well as the satisfaction of the President, and possibly was chiefly aimed at McClellan, the general-in-chief, who was strenuously devoting himself to the preparation of an army which could defeat the Confederates under Johnston and capture Richmond. The Federal forces in the West began to move about the 1st of February, without waiting for the President's appointed time to arrive. Buell made an attempt to enter east Tennessee, but being diverted from that purpose concentrated near Munfordville. The military forces in Halleck's department, with the gunboats designed for an expedition on the Tennessee river, all under command of General Grant, also responded to War Order No. 1 in advance of the designated date. This movement, made first against Fort Henry, resulted in the fall of that work on February 6th, and the surrender of Fort Donelson about ten days later. Nashville, necessarily next abandoned by the Confederates, was occupied by Buell, while Grant moved his own army to Pittsburg Landing, near the border of the State of Mississippi.
The new Confederate line, which these Federal successes required, extended from New Madrid on the left through Corinth as the center to Murfreesboro on the right. The Confederate leaders at Richmond were shocked by these reverses that imperiled the West, but immediate preparations were made to relieve the situation. Amidst such startling events the electoral votes were counted that made Mr. Davis President under the permanent constitution, and on the 22d day of February he was formally installed in office. The governors of the Gulf and Western States renewed their calls for troops, to which a patriotic response was readily made. The South was still confident of final success.
Meantime, Price, Van Dorn and McCulloch in the West were contending valiantly against the superior forces under Curtis and Sigel, but without being able to recover Missouri. Looking to the Atlantic coast in February, Burnside was observed commanding a naval expedition with military support sufficient to capture Roanoke island, New Bern and Fort Macon, in North Carolina, while DuPont seized Fernandina and Jacksonville in Florida. Preparations were in progress to capture Fort Pulaski on the coast of Georgia, and the harbor of Brunswick was entered by a Federal fleet. New Orleans and Mobile, and the Gulf landings generally, were kept in a state of alarm by the demonstrations made by the constantly increasing numbers of Federal vessels at Ship island. Texas was not yet seriously involved except in the contributions of thousands of Texans to the Confederate armies, but a Federal fleet under Commander Eagle appeared before Galveston preparing to demand its surrender.
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