The Battle of Fort Henry was the first major Union victory of the American Civil War. It not only made it easier for the Union forces to capture Nashville, Tennessee, but it was also the first time that ironclads (steam-powered warships) were used in Civil War combat. Fort Henry was in an area of low, swampy ground and guarded the Tennessee River. The five-sided fort was constructed by a combination of slave labour and Confederate infantry. The Union forces were under the general command of General Ulysses S. Grant. On 4 February 1862, a division of Union forces, under the command of Brigadier General McClernand landed north of Fort Henry. Meanwhile, Brigadier General Charles Smith’s men landed on the western shore. Ironclads, under Flag Officer Andrew Foote, fired on Fort Henry for over an hour. The garrison was half deserted because of a flood and, surrounded, its defenders knew the situation was hopeless and surrendered.
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