that the control of the major rivers (the Tennessee and the Cumberland both in Tn.) would be the key to having success in the Western Theater of the war. General Grant easily captured Ft. Henry on the Tennessee River on Feb. 6. His troops then advanced overland 12 miles to challenge Ft. Donelson with probing attacks on Feb 13th. On that night the weather tuned cold with wind and snow making life miserable for all of the troops. But on the 14th Wallace’s brigade arrived from Ft Henry and Flag Officer A. Foote’s fleet was urged by Grant to attack the river batteries. Commander Foote was unsuccessful as 10 of the Confederate 32 pound smooth bore cannons smashed the Union fleet. However, over the course of the next two days the Union army encircled the fort and were victorious.
located at the edge of the battlefield was built in the early 1850s and was the Confederate headquarters of General Buckner and was used a Union hospital after the battle. Also in mid -1862 and in Feb 1863 the Confederates tried unsuccessfully to retake the Dover area from the Union. Through all of these battles the Hotel remained intact and it was here that Buckner asked for conditions of surrender and the note he received from Grant on the 16th as below. The document was signed by both parties at the hotel.
General S. B. BUCKNER,
SIR: Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
from relative obscurity to media star status as he became known as “Unconditional Surrender Grant. ”Ironically, Buckner had known Grant at West Point and served with him in the Mexican war and Grant was beholding to him for helping him with a debt. Upon his death, the General helped carry Grant’s casket for burial- they had been buddies!
At the front of the hotel stands a classic example of an old American Elm tree that is over 5 ft in diameter at the base and is estimated to be over 200 yr old. It has withstood the test of time and the threats of Dutch Elm Disease that has killed thousands of its kind in Europe and North America. It was there when these events transpired (see photo). My sister and brother in law, the Gees of Nashville, helped with this part of the project. The photos show both the hotel and the elm tree as well as the river battle.
Lee’s troops across the Rappahannock River in late 1862. Whilst it took him a month to organize boats and bridges to cross the river, Lee had time to greatly strengthen his position on the Fredericksburg side of the river. Eventually, three pontoon bridges were set in place to ferry the Union army across. Then, wave after wave of men in Blue were hurdled against a strong Southern position along the Sunken Road and Prospect Hill, in two separate attempts to break the Confederate line. One of those assaults included the famed Irish Brigade, made up in large part by immigrants from The Emerald Isle. The Irish Brigade crossed the river at the middle pontoon site and they disembarked near the witness maple tree. Most interestingly, once on the enemy side of the river, they placed green sprigs of boxwood in their hats in remembrance of their heritage before they changed the famous, well defended, stonewall.
It was first constructed to ship iron ore and farm commodities in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties to other parts of Colonial America. It is also the site where Augustin Washington, father of our first President, moved his family from rule Westmoreland in 1738. There, Augustin produced iron ore, tobacco and other commodities, ran a ferry service across the river and where his son, George, learned to survey.
Also, of note is the fact that the leader of the Brigade was General Francis Thomas Meagher who led a rebellion in Ireland in 1848 against English rule. He was captured, sentenced to death and eventually given free transportation to Tasmania for life as a prisoner. He escaped, and made his way to New York where he helped raise the Irish Brigade to fight in the US Civil War. After huge loss of life at Fredericksburg, he resigned. In 1867 he was appointed as Montana's Territorial Secretary of State (first Governor) and he died at Fort Benton in a way that is still a mystery.
(a silver maple) sets on a knoll overlooking the middle pontoon site, and the Irish Brigade monument. It is where sprigs of boxwood were plucked and placed in the kepis of these brave soldiers. The tree is 60 inches in diameter and is estimated to be about 180 years old.
the Peninsula campaign to take Richmond, after the Union
failure at Manassas, in the summer of 1861. The Peninsula campaign plan had the Federals landing at Fortress Monroe and then moving north to Richmond in the spring of 1862. By the time he was in the vicinity of Richmond he was met at the battle of Seven Pines by a strong confederate force led by General Joe Johnston on May 31, 1862. It was a bloody battle and by the end of the day both shot and shell had entered the Confederate leader’s body.
General Lee to lead the army of Northern Virginia.
By June 24 th , Lee had developed a strategy to defend Richmond and the outcome became known as the 7 days battle. There were a series of battles at places such as Gaines Mill,Golding farm, Savage Station, Glendale and ultimately Malvern Hill. Eventually, as the overall location of the battlefields moved mostly away from Richmond, it became
obvious that the Union General was directing his troops to Harrison Landing on the James River. Thus, while the Army of the Potomac won the battle of Malvern Hill, it only allowed for their speedy exit entirely from Virginia.
was located exactly near to the long union line of artillery that was so effectively used against Lee’s on coming troops. The original house was eventually destroyed but a restored house placed on to the original foundation. A massive sycamore
tree with a unique spreading limbs grows near the homestead. A dead limb from the tree
was used to make the pen shown here.
of mid-1862 resulted in many named conflicts in his approach to Richmond. When General Lee replaced wounded General Johnston at the battle of 7 Pines, eventually his strategy was to hit the federals in a concerted effort from a number of directions. For instance, after the encounter at Mechanicsville, Lee’s forces united in an all- out assault against the federals at Gaines Mill. At least 62,000 men were involved making it the largest Confederate unified movement in the entire war. Also, it was one of only a few cases in which the Confederate forces outnumbered the Union by at least 2:1.
It was also the case, quite unlike any other during the entire war, there was balloon recognizance being conducted on both sides. The battle at Gaines' Mill began a series of rearguard actions as Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan moved his army to the James River and the encounters have become known as the “7 days battles” lasting from June 25 until July 1, 1862.
was built is 1820 and served as Union General Fitz John Porter's headquarters during the Gaines Mill battle. There is short trail beginning near the house and parking area leads to the site where Confederate troops broke through the line and precipitated the Union withdrawal. The house is surrounded by a number of trees and two of which are Eastern red cedar. These trees, based on an evaluation of their growth rings have grown very slowly. Their age is estimated to be around 175 years. A dead limb was found that had fallen from the tree on the left and it was made into a delightfully beautiful dark red pen in the photo.