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From the beginning Union leaders ...
From the beginning Union leaders devised a plan to capitalize on their command of America's waterways as a means of dividing and conquering the Confederacy. Large, navigable rivers such as the Mississippi, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland formed gateways to the Southern heartland.
In February 1862 a combined effort by the land forces of unheralded Federal General Ulysses S. Grant and a flotilla of gunboats commanded by veteran Flag Officer Andrew Foote moved on the inadequate Confederate defenses of northwestern Tennessee in a attempt to open the South to deeper penetration.
Ill-prepared Fort Henry on the Tennessee fell on February 6; ten days later Grant offered the hapless commander of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland the terms for which he would become famous - Unconditional Surrender.
The loss of these two important forts opened Tennessee to Union invasion. Within weeks Nashville fell, and soon the state and most of its resources were in Union hands. Grant became an instant hero in the North, while in the South the Confederacy scrambled to recover. It never would.
Tucker, an authority on naval warfare, deftly blends the elements of naval innovation, combined operations, and political considerations into a compelling story about the beginning of the end for the Southern Confederacy.