Battle of Fort Henry

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Battle of Fort Henry

February 6, 1862


Same day


Stewart and Henry Counties, Tennessee
Calloway County, Kentucky


Western Theater


Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers


Union victory

33 star flag.png
Conf Navy Jack.png

District of Cairo
Western Flotilla

Fort Henry garrison


Ulysses S. Grant
Brigadier General, USA
Andrew H. Foote
Commodore, USN

Lloyd Tilghman
Brigadier General, CSA


7 ships
15,000 soldiers

3,000-3,400 soldiers





By February 1862, Fort Henry, a Confederate earthen fort on the Tennessee River with outdated guns, was partially inundated and the river threatened to flood the rest. On February 4–5, Brig. Gen. U.S. Grant landed his divisions in two different locations, one on the east bank of the Tennessee River to prevent the garrison’s escape and the other to occupy the high ground on the Kentucky side which would insure the fort’s fall; Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote’s seven gunboats began bombarding the fort. Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, commander of the fort’s garrison, realized that it was only a matter of time before Fort Henry fell. While leaving artillery in the fort to hold off the Union fleet, he escorted the rest of his force out of the area and sent them safely off on the route to Fort Donelson, 10 miles away. Tilghman then returned to the fort and, soon afterwards, surrendered to the fleet, which had engaged the fort and closed within 400 yards. Fort Henry’s fall opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and shipping as far as Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After the fall of Fort Donelson, ten days later, the two major water transportation routes in the Confederate west, bounded by the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, became Union highways for movement of troops and material. (NPS summary [1])