Fort Henry, TN

[Bombardment and Capture of Fort Henry, Tenn.
by Currier and Ives - Courtesy of Wikipedia ]

Date(s): February 6, 1862

Location: Battlefield Unavailable - Lost Integrity

Campaign(s): Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers [1862]

Battles in Campaign:


  • In early 1862, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson were the main Confederate positions in defense of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, respectively.

  • If these rivers were opened to Union military traffic, two direct invasion paths would lead into Tennessee and beyond.

  • Brig. Gen. Grant proposed to move against Fort Henry and on February 1, 1862, Halleck authorized Grant to take the fort.

  • Grant left Cairo on February 2 with an invasion force of 15–17,000 men in two divisions and the Western Flotilla, commanded by Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote.

  • Foote had four ironclad gunboats and three wooden ("timberclad") gunboats .


  • Union: Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Flag-Officer A.H. Foote

  • Confederate: Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman

Principal Forces:

  • Union: District of Cairo(15,000) Western Flotilla (7 gunships)

  • Confederate: Fort Henry Garrison (3,000-3,400)


  • In February 1862, Fort Henry, a Confederate earthen fort on the Tennessee River equipped with outdated guns, was already partially flooded and the river threatened to flood the rest.

  • On February 4-5th, Brig. Gen. U.S. Grant landed his divisions in two different locations: on the east bank of the Tennessee River to prevent the garrison’s escape and on the high ground on the Kentucky side to threaten the fort.

  • 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.

  • Tilghman left artillery in the fort to hold off the Union fleet, escorted the rest of his force out of the area, and sent them to Fort Donelson, 10 miles away.

  • Tilghman returned to the fort and surrendered to the Foote’s fleet.

  • The capture of Fort Henry opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and shipping as far south as Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Slide Presentation: None [Battlefield Lost Integrity]

Classification2: B


  • Union: 40

  • Confederate: 79

Results: Union Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Tennessee Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 National Park Service summary.

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 12/08/2016