JANUARY 7TH, 1862: Lt. S.L. Phelps, USS Conestoga, on an expedition up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers gained valuable intelligence about Confederate activity at Forts Henry and Donelson.
"The rebels," he reported to Flag Officer Foote, "are industriously perfecting their means of defense both at Dover and Fort Henry. At Fort Donelson (near Dover) they have placed obstructions in the river, 1 1/2 miles below their battery, on the left bank and in the bend where the battery comes in sight ....
"The fire of the gunboats [at Fort Donelson] would be at a bad angle ... The forts are placed, especially on the Cumberland, where no great range can be had, and they can only be attacked on one narrow and fixed line ..."