Earlier on, I asked a question about General Grant's "true" force level at Fort Donelson. The argument was that Grant had been assisted by gunboats and gunners that were technically not under his command, but effectively raised his force levels.

Although the original (convoluted) question was closed and deleted, here is a simpler, more objective version focused on the relevant facts:

What were the number and caliber of the gunboat cannon that assisted Grant at Fort Donelson? How many men manned the ships and guns? (I believe I have a handle on the relevant land-based factors but not the naval ones.)

1 Answer 1


Here is a description of the Cairo, typical of all the city class ironclad gunboats in Foote's' flotilla.

enter image description here

As noted the crew establishment of each was 251 officers and men, with a gun battery comprised of:

  • 3 x 8" smoothbore, numbered (9) below: 1 mounted as bow chaser and 1 on each broadside;
  • 3 x 42 lb rifled cannon, numbered (10) below: 2 mounted as bow chasers, and 1 on starboard;
  • 6 x 32 lb rifled cannon, numbered (11) below, 3 on each broadside;
  • 1 x 30 lb rifled cannon, numbered (12) below; and
  • 1 * 12 lb rifled cannon.
  • 1
    I had earlier thought that Grant's success at Fort Donelson was due largely to the gunboats, but after reading your two excellent answers, it seems that other factors (the fort's inherent vulnerability) may have been more important.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 19, 2021 at 13:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.