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On February 14, 1862, Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote’s Union gunboat flotilla rounded the bend in the distance and steamed up the Cumberland to exchange iron valentines with the water batteries. Using the tactics that proved successful at Fort Henry a week earlier, Foote maneuvered his gunboats very close, intending to shell the batteries into submission. The cumbersome vessels, however, moved so slowly that they became excellent targets for the untested Confederate artillerymen and were forced to withdraw.
We awaited with deep anxiety the result of the attack and severe bombardment of the river batteries by our gunboats. Gloom ensued upon the news reaching us of their failure and withdrawal from the contest.
February 14th 1862