Morrison's Attack: A Senseless Loss

From this point on February 13, 1862, Union Col. William R. Morrison led his brigade in an unsuccessful and costly assault on Confederate Capt. Frank Maney’s battery at Fort Donelson. The attack demonstrated the impatience of Morrison’s commander, Gen. John A. McClernand, and the rawness of Morrison’s green Illinois regiments. This failed offensive, however, may have given the fort’s Confederate defenders the idea that there opponents were numerically stronger than they actually were. A Mexican War veteran, lawyer, and politician, Morrison organized the 49th Illinois Infantry Regiment at Camp Butler. The regiment mustered into service on December 31, 1861, and arrived at Fort Henry via Cairo, Illinois, on February 8, 1862, where it was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. Morrison was given overall command of the brigade.