Fort Donelson

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Fort Donelson (1861-1865) - A Confederate Army post established in 1861 during the U.S. Civil War on the Cumberland River in Stewart County, Tennessee. Named for Confederate General Daniel Donelson (Cullum 396). Captured by Union Forces under General Ulysses S. Grant, (Cullum 1187), on 16 Feb 1862 in the Battle of Fort Donelson. Abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.

Fort Donelson Upper River Battery.
Fort Donelson Field Artillery Piece with Limber.
Fort Donelson Lower River Battery.


A 97 acre Confederate Army post established early in 1861 at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. The post was located at a strategic bend on the Cumberland River to block any Union attempt to move their gunboats further into Tennessee.

Fort Donelson Lower Battery 10" Columbiad Cannon.
Fort Donelson Lower Battery Powder Magazine.
Fort Donelson Upper Battery Rifled Gun.

The fort itself was established on a peninsula with water on three sides (Hickman Creek, Cumberland River, Indian Creek). The land side approach was protected by a series of outer earthworks and field artillery positions including French's Battery, Maney's Battery, Graves' Battery, and Porter's Battery.

The inner fort was an enclosed strong earthworks with 10' high walls situated along Cumberland River with two fixed water batteries that had a commanding view of the river approaches. The lower river battery mounted eight 32-pounder seacoast cannons and one 10" Columbiad cannon. The upper battery mounted one 6.5" rifled gun and two 32-pounder Carronades. The terms "upper" and "lower" refer to the upstream and downstream sides, not to elevation. The Cumberland River at this point flows northwest. These batteries provided a devastating fire upon the approaching Union gunboats during the battle for Fort Donelson. Union Admiral Andrew Foote himself was wounded in the attack and the Union fleet was driven off.

Fort Donelson was later captured by Union Forces under General Ulysses S. Grant on 16 Feb 1862 in the Battle of Fort Donelson and remained in Union hands for the remainder of the war. Grant captured the fort after a four-day siege and famously demanded "unconditional and immediate surrender" of the Fort commander, General Simon B. Buckner (Cullum 1216), who reluctantly complied.

The fall of the fort was a major Union victory and Grant took between 12-15,000 prisoners. The Union lost some 5,000 killed and 450 missing. The victory opened up Tennessee and Kentucky to the Union and deprived the Confederates of important supply bases at Clarksville and Nashville.

Confederate forces attempted, unsuccessfully, to retake the fort in February 1863 and again in September 1863.

The fort was abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.

Current Status

Fort Donelson Closed Visitor Center

Must See! Fort Donelson National Military Park, Stewart County, Tennessee. Restored earthworks fort. The upper and lower batteries have been restored and populated with period cannons. Included in the park but off-site from the main fort is the restored Dover Hotel which was the site of the surrender of the fort. The on-site visitor center is currently closed (2016) and a temporary visitor center is co-located in the Stewart County Chamber of Commerce Building a short distance up U.S. Hwy 79 from the main park entrance. Also nearby is the Fort Donelson National Cemetery.

Location: Fort Donelson National Military Park, U.S. Hwy 79, Dover, Stewart County, Tennessee.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.49311 Long: -87.85502

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 440'

See Also:



Visited: 13 May 2016

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