LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed (''A. Lincoln'') as President, to General in Chief Major General Henry Wager Halleck, [Washington D. C.], 27 September 1862. 2 pages, oblong (2 7/8 x 3 1/8 in.), on both sides of a small card.
LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed ("A. Lincoln") as President, to General in Chief Major General Henry Wager Halleck, [Washington D. C.], 27 September 1862. 2 pages, oblong (2 7/8 x 3 1/8 in.), on both sides of a small card.
LINCOLN OVERSEES NAVY AND ARMY PLANS FOR GRANT'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST FORTS HENRY AND DONELSON
The Commander-in-Chief directs: "Gen. Halleck, please see Capt [Gustavus Vasa] Fox and Captain [William David] Porter, of the Navy, who wish to talk about the Naval part of the contemplated Mississippi expedition. Capt Fox you may know is Assistant Sec. Of Navy."
The "contemplated Mississippi expedition" which Lincoln mentions, presented unique problems in its planning and execution. It would require coordinated effort and close communication between the Union's powerful naval gunboats on the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers (commanded by Andrew Foote) and the sizable land army under Ulysses S. Grant. The objective was the capture of the twin Confederate fieldworks at Forts Henry and Donelson, to put pressure on Confederate armies in western Tennessee. The offensive opened in early February. Fort Henry easily fell to naval gunfire (in the artillery exchange Porter was scalded by an exploding boiler), but stiffer resistance at Donelson necessitated a brief siege culminating in Grant's famous demand for the unconditional surrender of the Confederate garrison, which took place on Febrary 16.This signal victory--one of the few successes of Union arms in this period--"heralded the rise of Grant to prominence" (Boatner).
Fox (1821-1883), a talented Naval officer, had left the Navy to manage textile mills but after the secession crisis offered his services to the President. He commanded the unsuccessful naval expedition intended to relieve Fort Sumter, then was appointed Chief Clerk of the Navy. Lincoln named him Assistant Secretary in August 1861. In that capacity, Fox played a critical role in the planning of naval operations, the assignment of officers and the development of new munitions, including ironclads. Captain William David Porter (1809-1864, brother of David Dixon Porter) served as assistant to Commodore Foote during the Henry and Donelson campaign. Collected Works, Second Suppl., p.59.