Fort Donelson

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Fort Donelson
Tennessee (near Dover, Tennessee)
Fort Donelson river battery (1).jpg
Part of the lower river battery at Fort Donelson, overlooking the Cumberland River
Type Fort
Site information
Controlled by Confederate States (1862)
United States (1862–1865)
Site history
Built 1862
In use 1862–1865
Materials earth

American Civil War

Fort Donelson was a fortress built by the Confederacy during the American Civil War to control the Cumberland River leading to the heart of Tennessee, and the heart of the Confederacy. The fort was named after Confederate general Daniel S. Donelson.[1]


Bushrod Johnson of the Confederate Corps of Engineers had approved the build site and supervised construction in 1862. Construction was started by a large force of men brought from the nearby Cumberland Iron Works.

Confederate commanders

Fort Donelson was garrisoned by the Confederate troops until 1862. The fort was captured by Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his army during a winter offensive to divide the Confederacy in two by controlling the Mississippi River. (see Battle of Fort Donelson)

The fort was attacked again on August 25, 1863, by a Confederate force demanding its surrender. The attack was unsuccessful and was repulsed.

The Union Attack[edit]

(main article Battle of Fort Donelson)

Fort Donelson was attacked by General U.S Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Foote, who surrounded the fort and captured it after a short siege.

Fort Donelson under Union control[edit]

The Union was ecstatic when the news reached the capital and cities of Fort Donelson's surrender. Union forces now controlled one of the largest forts in the western theater. The war had been going badly for the Union in Virginia, but the captures of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson were promising victories.

After the front line shifted away Fort Donelson, it became of little strategic importance, but continued to hold a garrison of Union troops. Later, the fort was attacked by a Confederate force of 450 infantrymen, 335 cavalrymen, and two field guns. The Union garrison consisted of four companies (404 men) of the 71st Ohio Regiment. After suffering 30 casualties, the Confederates retreated. They were pursued by the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, but to no avail.

Union commanders

After the war[edit]

The Fort Donelson National Battlefield was created in 1928, and the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It was redesignated as a national battlefield on August 16, 1985. Fort Heiman was later incorporated into the park.


Further reading[edit]

  • American Battlefield Protection Program (U.S.). Profiles of America's Most Threatened Civil War Battlefields. [Harper's Ferry, W. Va.]: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship and Partnership Program, Heritage Preservation Services, American Battlefield Protection Program, 1998. OCLC 44597093
  • Bearss, Edwin C. Unconditional Surrender: The Fall of Fort Donelson. Dover, Tenn: Eastern National Park and Monument Association, Fort Donelson National Military Park, 1962. OCLC 7235201
  • Bishop, Randy. Tennessee's Civil War Battlefields: A Guide to Their History and Preservation. Gretna, La: Pelican Pub. Co, 2010. ISBN 1-589-80771-5 OCLC 435422164
  • Confederate States of America. Facts and Incidents of the Siege, Defence and Fall of Fort Donelson, February, 1862. Huntsville, Ala. : Printed at the Confederate Office, 1863. OCLC 300288680
  • Cooling, Benjamin Franklin. Fort Donelson's Legacy: War and Society in Kentucky and Tennessee, 1862–1863. Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, 1997. ISBN 0-870-49949-1 OCLC 34413540
  • Cutter, Bloodgood H. On the Battle of Fort Donelson. Little Neck? N.Y.: s.n, 1862. OCLC 20848990
  • Davis, William C., and David Muench. Civil War Parks: The Story Behind the Scenery. Las Vegas, NV : KC Publications, 1996. ISBN 0-916-12295-6 OCLC 41962999
  • Gifford, Douglas L. Fort Donelson Battlefield Tour Guide. Winfield, Mo: Douglas L. Gifford, 2008. ISBN 0-615-19079-0 OCLC 319170103
  • Greenawalt, John G. A Charge at Fort Donelson, February 15, 1862. Washington, 1902. OCLC 3945138
  • Hamilton, James J. The Battle of Fort Donelson. South Brunswick: T. Yoseloff, 1968. OCLC 2579774
  • Hicks, Henry George. Fort Donelson. [St. Paul, Minn.]: [s.n.], 1896. OCLC 80746597
  • Kennedy, Frances H. The Civil War Battlefield Guide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. ISBN 0-395-52282-X OCLC 20629297
  • Knight, James R. The Battle of Fort Donelson: No Terms but Unconditional Surrender. Charleston, SC : The History Press, 2011. ISBN 1-609-49129-7 OCLC 695860362
  • Logsdon, David R. Eyewitnesses at the Battle of Fort Donelson. Nashville, Tenn. : Kettle Mills Press, 1998. ISBN 0-962-60184-5 OCLC 40259044
  • Tucker, Spencer. Unconditional Surrender: The Capture of Forts Henry and Donelson. Abilene, Tex: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2001. ISBN 1-893-11411-2 OCLC 46401864
  • United States. Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tennessee. [Washington, D.C.?]: National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1999. OCLC 43272176
  • United States. Fort Donelson National Military Park, Tennessee. [Washington, D.C.?]: National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1979. OCLC 9719703
  • Vandiver, Frank Everson. Civil War Battlefields and Landmarks: A Guide to the National Park Sites : with Official National Park Service Maps for Each Site. New York: Random House, 1996. ISBN 0-679-44898-5 OCLC 34594299

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°29′35″N 87°51′18″W / 36.49306°N 87.85500°W / 36.49306; -87.85500