With the collapse of the Confederate defenses at Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the entire Tennessee Valley was open to Union invasion and control. These Northern victories set up the 1864 Atlanta Campaign that cut the Confederacy in two. Had Confederate planning and leadership been better, no one can say what difference it might have made to the Civil War in the West and the outcome of the war itself.
Kendall D. Gott is a military historian for the Combat Studies Institute at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is the author of several articles and studies on American military history, including the book In Glory's Shadow: The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment during the Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991.