• 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.

Environmental Factors

Lower River Batteries

Cumberland River flows under the guns of Fort Donelson

The Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers are master rivers of the Interior Lower Plateaus. Their origins are very ancient. The course of the Cumberland River and the north-tending segment of the Tennessee Valley probably predate the Mississippi Embayment. Both reach the head of the Mississippi Embayment at the structural junction of the Reelfoot Rift and its arms which split toward St. Louis and southwestern Indiana. Forts Henry and Donelson were placed in strategic locations created by the environment that created these rivers. Man has used these rivers for transportation and life giving water from pre-historic to present times. Controlling transportation on the two rivers was critical to the success of both armies during the Civil War. Controlling the rivers is just as important today for transportation, flood control, and generating electricity. All of the environmental factors and the influence of man have and will continue to alter this area. Studying and understanding the process is a major undertaking by the staff of Fort Donelson National Battlefield and the

Environmental Factors monitoring program.

Did You Know?


At the time of the 1862 battle, a six-gun Tennessee battery was located where the visitor center is located today. Porter's Battery saw extensive action during the battle, and had many killed, wounded, and taken prisoner. Captain Thomas Porter was seriously wounded during the battle.