Grant “in readiness”
Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant has returned to Fort Donelson after visiting Nashville, now held by elements of Buell’s Army of the Ohio. Just as Grant was leaving, he met Buell at the edge of the Cumberland River and learned that the retreating Confederate forces are now thought to be at Murfreesborough, about 30 miles away, weakened and offering a tempting target. Always ready to advance, Grant writes Halleck’s headquarters, “I will hold my force in readiness for a move on very short notice.” Grant has no idea that the wrath of Halleck will descend on his head very shortly.
ELSEWHERE IN THE CIVIL WAR: With Sen. Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio, chairman of the Committee on Conduct of the War present, President Lincoln interviews Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan about the failure of the “Harper’s Ferry plan.” Responding to Lincoln’s “General Order No. 1” to get Union troops marching on all fronts, McClellan has led 40,000 men up the Potomac to Harper’s Ferry, where they and their supply trains were supposed to cross the river on a bridge resting on some canal boats sent up from Washington. Then it was discovered the canal boats were a few inches too wide to pass through the locks on their way to the bridge site. Fiasco. Embarrassment all around. And now McClellan is being interrogated by a frustrated Lincoln, who only yesterday said, “The general impression is daily gaining ground that the General [McClellan] does not intend to do anything.”
IT’S COMING SOONER THAN YOU THINK: April 12, 2011—less than 3½ years from now!—will be the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1861, April 12 was the day Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
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