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Battle of Fort Donelson

As soon as he captured Fort Henry, on February 6th, Grant sent a dispatch stating "I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th and return to Fort Henry." Grant was a bit optimistic, but not by much.

After the loss of Fort Henry, the commander of Confederate forces in the western theater, General A.S. Johnston, considering the fact that his 14,000 troops in eastern Kentucky, under Gen. Hardee, faced Buell's 40,000, decided to pull his troops back behind the Cumberland, abandoning Kentucky to the Union. In order to buy time for this movement, he reinforced Fort Donelson, whose commander, General John B. Floyd, was expected to hold out as long as possible.

Meanwhile, Grant had to delay a bit, as he was gathering more troops and his naval support had to sail down the Tennessee and then back up the Cumberland to get to Fort Donelson. Donelson was a much stronger position than Henry, and was better defended. On February 12th, Grant moved his troops into position around Fort Donelson, then on the 14th, he ordered Foote's ships, which had finally arrived, to open their assault on the fort. They did, but the Confederate guns dug in along the bank were able to disable or force the retreat of the Union boats.

Floyd knew he could not hold out for long, so he planned to escape with his troops to the south and march to join the main Confederate force at Nashville. The Confederates made an attempt to breakout, but despite initial success, they were eventually pulled back to their defenses. Meanwhile, Grant launched an attack on the northern end of the fort, gaining a position on a ridge which allowed Union guns to dominate the Confederate positions.

On Feb. 16th, a Confederate council-of-war decided that surrender was the only option and Gen. S.B. Buckner sent Grant a request for parley towards that end. Grant wrote back, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." Buckner had no choice but to reply that he was compelled "to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose." From thence, Grant was known as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

Storming Fort Donelson
"The Storming Of Fort Donelson Tenn. Feby. 15th. 1862. Terrific bayonet charge and capture of the outer entrenchments by the Gallant Soldiers of the West, under General U.S. Grant." New York: Currier & Ives, 1862. Lithograph. Original hand color. Small folio. 8 3/8 x 12 3/8. Some marginal stains and some chipping to top margin with tear just into image. All expertly conserved. Previously unrecorded.

A previously unrecorded Currier & Ives print of Grant leading his troops in the assault on Fort Donelson. The capture of Forts Henry and Donelson brought Grant's name to the attention of the public, so Currier & Ives dug up a photograph of Grant, which they transferred to the stone used to make this print, providing one of the first portraits of Grant available to the public. $425

Battle of Fort Donelson
"Battle of Fort Donelson." Chicago: Kurz & Allison, 1887. 21 x 28. Chromolithograph. Very good condition.

The Chicago firm of Kurz & Allison is well known for its production of commemorative prints of American historical scenes. Founded in 1880, the firm's avowed purpose was to design "for large scale establishments of all kinds, and in originating and placing on the market artistic and fancy prints of the most elaborate workmanship." Elaborate they certainly were: the majority of their prints are bright and dramatic, with action throughout the image. Drawn in a broad, graphic style that developed from Kurz's background as a muralist, these prints have a striking appearance that makes them not only interesting historical images but also excellent decorative prints. This print shows the climatic storming of the Confederate fortifications on February 16th, Grant leading the way at left. $600

Storming of Fort Donelson
F.B. Schell. "Storming of Fort Donelson." From Samuel M. Schmucker's The History of the Civil War in the United States. Philadelphia: Jones Bros. & Co. and Chicago: Zeigler, McCurdy & Co, 1865. Mezzotint by Samuel Sartain. On sheet 6 1/2 x 9 3/4. Some light spots in margins.

Shows a general (Grant?) leading his men in the attack on the Confederate fortifications. $75

Charge on Fort Donelson
"Charge on Fort Donelson." From The Great Rebellion. Connecticut: Hurlburt, Williams, & Co., 1862. Steel engraving.

A dramatic image of Grant's charge to take the Confederate position at the north of the fort. $75

Capture of Fort Donelson
Alonzo Chappel. "Capture of Fort Donelson." From Battles of the United States by Sea and Land. New York: Johnson, Fry & Co., ca. 1865. 5 1/2 x 7 3/8. Steel engraving. Very good condition.

A close up view of the hand-to-hand combat as Grant's troops breached the Confederate fortifications. $75

Capture of Fort Donelson
F.O.C. Darley. "Capture of Fort Donelson, Tenn." From The Great Civil War. New York: Virtue & Yorston, ca. 1865. Steel engraving.

A third engraving showing the fierce fighting as the Union pressed the Confederate-held fort. $75

Storming of Fort Donelson
W. Momberger. "Storming of Fort Donelson." From John S.C. Abbott's The History of the Civil War in America. New York: Henry Bill, 1866. 4 3/8 x 7 1/2. Steel engraving by J. Rogers. Very good condition.

A finely engraved image of the troops landing to the north of Fort Donelson and attacking the fortifications there. $75

Prints from Harper's Weekly

Capture of Fort Donelson
The victory at Fort Donelson was certainly front page news. Images showing the fort, the ships, the land battle and major figures involved appeared within just two weeks of the events.

"Fort Henry / Fort Henry and Fort Donelson / Military map of country between Tennessee and Cumberland, February 4th to March 10, 1862," plus 4 smaller maps. From the U.S. War Department's Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Gov't. Printing Office, 1891-95. Lithographed map, with some highlight color. Double folio size. NB: The maps from this atlas are printed on brittle paper, so there may be short tears in this map.

Richard Stephenson has written, "This is the most detailed atlas yet published on the Civil War. It consists of reproductions of maps compiled by both Union and Confederate soldiers." [Stephenson, Civil War Maps, p 99.] The maps show many of the events of the Civil War with great detail, including topography, troop placements and movements, and other information of interest. These are the best near contemporary maps available of many of these battles, sieges, and other events of this conflict. $75
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