Confederates order reinforcements to Fort Donelson - HISTORY
Year
1862

Confederates order reinforcements to Fort Donelson

On this day in 1862, one day after the fall of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of Rebel forces in the West, orders 15,000 reinforcements to Fort Donelson. This fort lay on the Cumberland River just a few miles from Fort Henry. Johnston’s decision turned out to be a mistake, as many of the troops were captured when the Fort Donelson fell to the Yankees on February 16.

During the fall and winter of 1861 to 1862, the Union Army and Navy penetrated through Kentucky and into Tennessee. Led by General Ulysses S. Grant, the Yankees were gaining crucial advantages by controlling parts of the major rivers in the upper South. Johnston sought to stop the bleeding of lost Confederate territory by strengthening the garrison inside Fort Donelson. In retrospect, his mistake was in not providing enough support to Donelson. Johnston wanted to buy time so he could gather his forces from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee to Nashville, which lay south and east of Fort Donelson. If Johnston had concentrated his force at Donelson, he would have had a significant advantage over Grant. Instead, Grant surrounded the fort and sent a squadron to attack from the river. On February 16, 1862, the Yankees cut off the fort from the south and forced the surrender of 15,000 Confederates.

After the fall of Fort Donelson, Johnston gathered his remaining forces to northern Mississippi. On April 6, 1862,at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, the Western armies clashed in one of the most destructive battles of the war. Johnston was killed in the Confederate defeat.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Great Baltimore Fire begins

In Baltimore, Maryland, a small fire in the business district is wind-whipped into an uncontrollable conflagration that engulfs a large portion of the city by evening. The fire is believed to have been started by a discarded cigarette in the basement of the Hurst Building. When ...read more

King Hussein of Jordan dies

On February 7, 1999, King Hussein bin Talal, the 20th century’s longest-serving executive head of state dies, and his son Prince Abdallah bin Hussein ascends to the Jordanian throne.Hussein was named the third constitutional king of Jordan in 1952 and proved a great leader in his ...read more

First human satellite

While in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless becomes the first human being to fly untethered in space when he exits the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a bulky white rocket pack of his own design. McCandless orbited Earth in ...read more

European Union treaty signed

After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe finally unite in the spirit of economic cooperation with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of European Union. The treaty, signed by ministers of the European Community, called for greater ...read more

Tire king Firestone dies

On February 7, 1938, automotive industry pioneer Harvey Samuel Firestone, founder of the major American tire company that bore his name, dies at the age of 69 in Miami Beach, Florida.By 1910, Firestone’s profits passed $1 million for the first time. The following year, the winner ...read more

Beatles arrive in New York

On February 7, 1964, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York’s Kennedy Airport–and “Beatlemania” arrives. It was the first visit to the United States by the Beatles, a British rock-and-roll quartet that had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six ...read more

U.S. jets conduct retaliatory raids

As part of Operation Flaming Dart, 49 U.S. Navy jets from the 7th Fleet carriers Coral Sea and Hancock drop bombs and rockets on the barracks and staging areas at Dong Hoi, a guerrilla training camp in North Vietnam. Escorted by U.S. jets, a follow-up raid by South Vietnamese ...read more

Operation Dewey Canyon II ends

Operation Dewey Canyon II ends, but U.S. units continue to provide support for South Vietnamese army operations in Laos. Operation Dewey Canyon II began on January 30 as the initial phase of Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos that was to commence on February 8. ...read more

Cowboy celebrity Charles Siringo is born

Charles Siringo, one of the most famous contemporary chroniclers of the cowboy life, is born in Matagorda County, Texas.When Siringo was only 30 years old, he published the first authentic autobiographical account of the cowboy life, A Texas Cowboy, or Fifteen Years on the ...read more

Zola is brought to trial

On this day in 1898, French writer Emile Zola is brought to trial for libel for “J’Accuse,” his newspaper editorial attacking the French army over the Dreyfus affair.On January 13, Zola had published his editorial in the newspaper L’Aurore. The letter exposed a military cover-up ...read more

The Beatles arrive on American shores

“On the airplane, I felt New York,” Ringo Starr said many years later. “It was like an octopus….I could feel, like, tentacles coming up to the plane it was so exciting.” For the better part of a year leading up to their arrival in America on this day in 1964, the Beatles had been ...read more

First appearance of “Little Tramp”

On this day in 1914, the silent film Kid Auto Races at Venice premieres in theaters, featuring the actor Charlie Chaplin in his first screen appearance as the “Little Tramp,” the character that would become his best-known onscreen alter ego.Born on April 16, 1889, in England, ...read more

Plea bargaining gains favor in American courts

Albert McKenzie pleads guilty to a misdemeanor count of embezzlement in Alameda County, California. McKenzie had originally been charged with a felony for taking $52.50 from the sewing-machine company for which he worked. However, rather than go through a trial, the prosecution ...read more

Forensic evidence solves a crime

Bernard Josephs returns to his house in Bromley, England, and finds his wife Claire lying under the bed, her throat slashed and severed to the spine. Defensive wounds to her hands appeared to be caused by a serrated knife. No weapon was found at the Josephs’ house, and police ...read more