Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Unconditional Surrender U. S. Grant

When did things begin to pick up for the Union?

The latter part of January revealed some encouraging signs, but it was not until early February that Lincoln received anything that could truly be called “good” news. The word was that the Army of the Cumberland was moving in Tennessee and that Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant was demonstrating some marked initiative.

Grant was a brigadier-general of volunteers, under the command of Major-General Henry Halleck (1815–1872) of the Regular U.S. Army. In the winter of 1862, Grant persuaded Halleck to allow him to test the Confederate defenses along the Cumberland River, and he quickly found them wanting. Along with Grant’s bulldoglike tenacity was the Union superiority on the waterways: there were ten Union ironclads in the vicinity of Cairo, Illinois (thanks to their slowness, they were called the River Turtles). By contrast, the Confederates had not a single ironclad in those waters.


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