NPS Fort Donelson National Battlefield
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  • Stop 5: Union General Smith's Attack

    On February 15 Grant correctly concluded that for the Confederates to hit so hard on the right (see stop 9), they must have weakened their line somewhere else. Seizing the initiative, he told General Smith to "take Fort Donelson." Smith had his troops remove the firing caps from their guns (so men would not be tempted to stop and fire, risking greater casualties) and fix bayonets. With the Second Iowa spearheading the attack, Smith led the assault. Smith's division captured and controlled the earthworks here during the night. Before the attack could be renewed the next morning, Grant and Buckner were already discussing terms for surrender.