Grant correctly concluded that for the Confederates to hit so hard on the right, they must have weakened their line somewhere else. Seizing the initiative, he told General Smith to "take Fort Donelson." Smith had his troops uncap their guns (so the men would not be tempted to fire, risking greater casualties) and fix bayonets. With the Second Iowa Infantry spearheading the attack, Smith led the assault against the Confederate lines on this ridge. Smith's division routed the 30th Tennessee Infantry and captured and held the earthworks, thus controlling this position on the night of the 15th. Before the attack could be renewed the next morning, Grant and Buckner were already discussing terms for surrender.
Charles Ferguson Smith was once an instructor of US Grant at West Point Academy, but during this campaign served under Grant as a division commander. After the Battle of Fort Donelson, General Smith led some expeditions up the Tennessee River, but died of an infection near Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) in April, 1862, not being part of that campaign.
Voltaire Twombley, of the 2nd Iowa, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions and service at Fort Donelson in February of 1862... for actions he performed at this very spot. His citation reads:
"Took the colors after three of the color guard had fallen, and although most instantly knocked down by a spent ball, immediately arose and bore the colors to the end of the engagement." (Twombly later recalled that five members of the color guard had fallen: Sgt. H. B Doolittle, Corp. G. S. Page, Corp. J.H. Churcher, Corp. H. E. Weaver, and Corp. J. W. Robinson.) Date and place: Feb. 15, 1962, at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Issued: March 12, 1897."
His Medal of Honor is part of the museum collection at Fort Donelson National Battlefield.
Did You Know?
There was a significant enslaved population in Stewart County, TN, before and during the 1862 battle. After the Union victories at Forts Heiman, Henry and Donelson, many freedom seeking slaves sought refuge at these forts, even establishing a community near today's Fort Donelson National Cemetery.