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During the course of the American Civil War, 1861-1865, ironclad warships developed a fearful reputation as powerful commanders of the Mississippi River. With the ability to pierce deep into the heart of the South, destroy Confederate property, and pull out with amazing speed compared to land assaults, the early Western Flotilla became the symbol of Northern industrial invincibility, boosting Northern morale and seriously damaging Southern psyches. However, an analysis of the Fort Henry/Fort Donelson Campaign of 1862 reveals a different story than the one that went into legend. Using the official records of the Union and Confederate armies and navies, this study traces the psychological impact of the Western Flotilla ironclads and their journey into legend.