After the battle of Belmont the Confederates worked night and day by details to strengthen the fortifications around Columbus. After this work was finished, the army, with the exception of dress parade and an occasional drill, was spending its time in idleness.
On February 6, 1862 Fort Henry on the Tennessee river was captured by General Grant. Most of the Confederates, three thousand in number, escaped to Ft. Donnelson, twelve miles away on the Cumberland river. This fort was attacked by General Grant and Commodore Forte on February 13, and on February 16 it was surrendered by General Buckner, Generals Floyd and Pillow escaping with about 1200 officers and men of their respective commands. Colonel (afterward General) Forrest refused to surrender and escaped with his regiment to Nashville.
The loss of these two forts opened to the Federals the Cumberland river to Nashville, Tennessee and Florence, Alabama. This caused General Polk to have to give up Columbus and on March 1st the place was vacated, part of this force going down the Mississippi river to Island number 10, an island in the Mississippi river, forty miles below Columbus, Kentucky, where a portion of Beauregard's army, amounting in all to 7,000 men, after being bombarded for three weeks by Commodore Forte's fleet, forced the surrender of 6,000 Confederates on April 7.
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