James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  set at rest all doubts, if any still existed, of the permanent position of Kentucky in the civil conflict and it deprived the Confederates of a large part of Tennessee, a fruitful ground for recruits and supplies. “The people were terrified and some of the troops were disheartened,” wrote Albert Sidney Johnston to Davis. “The blow was most disastrous and almost without remedy.” 1 When the Governor of Tennessee proclaimed that the troops must evacuate Nashville and adjourned the legislature to Memphis, panic seized upon the people, and disorder, turbulence and rapine ensued. 2  15   The magnitude of the victory was fully appreciated at the North. “The underpinning of the rebellion seems to be knocked out from under it,” wrote Chase. “The almost universal feeling is that the rebellion is knocked on the head,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes. The capture of Fort Donelson was regarded in England as a victory of high importance, and greatly helped the cause of the North. 3  16   The victory was due to Grant. The more clearly one studies this campaign, the more firmly is one convinced that the great general longed for by the North had appeared. His quickness to guess the enemy’s design and the predicament in which they stood; his rapidity in forming a plan and putting its several elements in operation; his ability to conceal his disappointment and alarm at the disaster to his right wing and his grim determination to snatch some advantage from it: here surely we must recognize the stamp of military genius. It is true that when he gave the order to charge the enemy he could not be certain of a complete success and that he would have liked the aid of the gunboats. 4 It may be, as
Note 1. March 18, O. R., VII, 259. [back]
Note 2. Reports and statements of Forrest, Floyd, and one other in O. R., VII, 427–432; Wyeth, Forrest, 73; John Wooldridge, Nashville, 193. [back]
Note 3. III, 598. [back]
Note 4. The gunboats took no part in the battle of Feb. 15. [back]