FEBRUARY 16TH, 1862: Fort Donelson surrendered to General Grant on February 16. Major General Lew Wallis, speaking of the renewed gunboat support on 15 February, summed up the substantial role of the gunboats in the victory: "I recollect yet the positive pleasure the sounds [naval gunfire] gave me...the obstinacy and courage of the Commodore...."
Was the attack "of assistance to us? I don't think there is room to question it. It distracted the enemy's attention, and I fully believe it was the gunboats ... that operated to prevent a general movement of the rebels up the river or across it. , the night before the surrender."
Coming quickly after the fall of Fort Henry, the capture of Fort Donelson by a combined operation had a heavy impact on both sides. News of the fall of Fort Donelson created great excitement in New Orleans where the press placed much blame on Secretary of Navy Mallory because "we are so wretchedly helpless on the water."
With their positions in Kentucky now untenable, the Confederates had to withdraw, assuring thatstate to the Union. On the Mississippi, Confederate forces fell back on Island No. 10. Nashville could not be held, and the Union armies were poised to sweep down into the heart of theSouth.