• The legendary battle between Confederate guns and US ironclads at Fort Donelson, February 14, 1862.

    Fort Donelson

    National Battlefield Tennessee

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  • The Eagle has Flown!

    The juvenile eagle at Fort Donelson has fledged. The eagles now reside at the Confederate River Batteries, stop #4 on the driving tour. Visitors are encouraged to view and admire, but asked to keep a respectful distance, as this is their home.

Trading Cards

Building and Losing Fort Donelson

These trading cards can be obtained at the Fort Donelson National Battlefield visitor center after completing a little quiz that will test your knowledge on the Civil War.

Building and Losing Fort Donelson

Using axes and shovels to make a wall of logs and earth 10 feet high, Confederate soldiers and slaves built Fort Donelson along the Cumberland River over a period of seven months. The fort fell into Union hands after the legendary Battle of Fort Donelson, February 13-16, 1862, which led to the fall of Nashville, Tennessee.

 
Changing Warfare

Changing Warfare

Changing Weapons, Changing World

Warfare changed forever when a fleet of ironclad gunboatscampaigned up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers in February, 1862. Carrying heavier guns and offering better protection, they sometimes overshot their targets, hitting nearby towns. The legendary gunboat battle at Fort Donelson could be heard over thirty miles away and changed
the lives of

 
Mary Bickerdyke “Mother” to Wounded Soldiers

Mary Bickerdyke "Mother" to Wounded Soldiers

Following the February, 1862, Union victory at Fort Donelson, Mary "Mother" Bickerdyke was among the many women who searched the wintry battlefield, tending to both Union and Confederate wounded. She worked with Ulysses Grant and William T. Sherman throughout the Civil War, helping establish about 300 field hospitals.

 
Anna Ella Carroll Advisor to the President

Anna Ella Carroll Advisor to the President

Among Abraham Lincoln's most important advisors was a woman few have heard of today. Anna Ella Carroll is credited by many historians with helping to develop the strategy that Ulysses Grant and Andrew H. Foote used on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers in February, 1862, which led to Union victories at Forts Henry and Donelson

 
Refuge and Responsibility

Refuge and Responsibility

After the Union victory at Fort Donelson, the area became a refuge for many African Americans seeking freedom and protection. By 1863, African Americans were joining regiments of the United States Colored Troops at Fort Donelson. Many sacrificed their lives for their country and their freedom.

 
Simon Bolivar Buckner

Simon Bolivar Buckner

Confederate Surrender at Fort Donelson

Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner of Kentucky was third in command at Fort Donelson. It was he who offered the surrender of the Confederate fort to Ulysses Grant on February 16, 1862. Buckner was imprisoned, exchanged, and fought again, notably at the Battle of Chickamauga. He later became governor of Kentucky

 
Fort Heiman Losing the High Ground

Fort Heiman Losing the High Ground

As the Confederates were building Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, many recognized the location was less than perfect. Across the river on a high bluff in neutral Kentucky, they built Fort Heiman using mostly enslaved labor. It was unfinished at the time of the February 1862 campaign and fell into Union hands.

 
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Andrew H. Foote

The US Navy at the Battle of Fort Donelson

The navy played an important role in the Civil War. Andrew Foote commanded the Western Gunboat Flotilla which helped defeat Confederate forces at Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862. Foote was among the wounded during the February 14 naval battle at Fort Donelson. He was later among the first to be promoted to rear admiral.

 
Nathan Bedford Forrest Wizard of the Saddle

Nathan Bedford Forrest Wizard of the Saddle

Among those to escape Fort Donelson before the Confederate surrender on February 16, 1862,
was Lt. Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest of Tennessee. He would later fight in the area during the Battle of Dover in February 1863, another Confederate loss. His grasp of battle strategy and cavalry tactics earned him the nickname "the wizard of the saddle."

Did You Know?

Gunboat

Andrew Foote, commander of the Navy flotilla at Fort Donelson, insisted on total abstinence for the crews, mandatory religious services and observance of the Sabbath, and he himself rarely swore. It was said that he could preach, fight, or pray with equal facility. More...