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Digital History ID 3067


Under the Anaconda Plan, Union forces in the West were to seize control of the Mississippi River while Union forces in the East tried to capture the new Confederate capital in Richmond. In the western theater, the Confederates had built two forts, Fort Donelson along the Cumberland River and Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, which controlled the Kentucky and western Tennessee region and blocked the Union's path to the Mississippi.

The Union officer responsible for capturing these forts was Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), a West Point graduate who had resigned from the army because of a drinking problem and who was working in his father's tanning shop when the war began. In February 1862, gunboats under Grant's command took Fort Henry and ten days later, Grant's men took Fort Donelson, forcing 13,000 Confederates to surrender.

Grant and some 42,000 men then proceeded south along the Tennessee River. A Confederate force of 40,000 men, under the command of Beauregard and Johnston tried to surprise Grant before other Union forces could join him at the Battle of Shiloh. In two days of heavy fighting during which there were 13,000 Union casualties and over 10,000 Confederate casualties, Grant successfully pushed back the southern forces. By early June, Union forces controlled the Mississippi River as far south as Memphis, Tennessee.

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