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Had you been standing here at noon on February 6, 1862, you would have had a panoramic view of Union Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote’s flotilla of four ironclad and three timberclad gunboats as they steamed upriver and began firing rapidly into Fort Henry (now under the waters of Kentucky Lake). This, the initial battle in Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grants campaign to open the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers to Union forces, was the first time American ironclad vessels were used in combat. With the fort partly inundated by Tennessee River floodwaters, its commander, Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, knew Fort Henry could not be held. Keeping only 100 artillerymen, he sent the rest of his forces (about 2,500 men) to Fort Donelson, 12 miles away on the Cumberland River. Tilghman and his gunners gamely returned the gunboats fire, but were severely outgunned. At 1:45 p.m., with only four cannon still operating, Tilghman surrendered to Foote. The Confederates had suffered five killed and 11 wounded; the Union sailors lost 11 killed and 31 wounded. Grant and Brig. Gen. John A. McClernands troops, much to the navys delight, did not arrive until after the fort had been surrendered
The original site of Fort Henry is completely submerged beneath Kentucky Lake. The buoy in the middle of the channel marks its approximate location.
This image is looking from Fort Donelson to where Fort Henry was standing.