In continuing operations the three days following the capture of Fort Henry, the USS Tyler, Conestoga and Lexington, under Lt. S.L. Phelps, swept the Tennessee for Confederate transports, seized the unfinished steamer Eastport and destroyed a railroad bridge spanning the Tennessee River.
Leaving the Carondlet on station as guardship, Foote proceeded the evening of the 6th with the three other ironclads, all damaged, to Cairo to direct preparation for the assault on Fort Donelson. He saw the vast possibilities in breaching the Confederate defenses in the center of its western line.
from far up in Kentucky, south and west to the Mississippi at Columbus, all hung in the balance. Fort Donelson would open the second door to the flood of Union power to sweep into the South. With the center broken, collapse of the line would follow.