In conjunction with Maney's battery to the west, the four-gun battery emplaced here was to prevent Union forces from attacking down Erin Hollow, penetrating the Fort Donelson perimeter. It was in this area that Buckner's division moved from the Confederate right wing in anticipation of the breakout attempt. After Pillow and Johnson launched the attack on the 15th, Buckner followed from this position. When the breakout failed, Buckner's division was sent back to the Confederate right wing in order to halt the Union counterattack.
A Biography of the Commander
David Alexander French was born in 1837 in Giles County, Virginia, received a public education, and was a merchant by trade. He enlisted on June 26, 1861, as a lieutenant and was an acting captain by the time of the Fort Henry/ Fort Donelson campaign. He was formally elected to captain on May 1, 1862. French had a horse shot out from under him at Fort Harrison on September 29, 1864, but survived the Civil War. He was paroled at Appomattox Court House and claimed to have fired the last gun in the artillery service there. After the War, French became the Giles County treasurer from 1879-1895, and then lived in Bluefield, West Virginia, until 1900. French died inn 1918 and is buried in the county of his birth.
Did You Know?
There was a significant enslaved population in Stewart County, TN, before and during the 1862 battle. After the Union victories at Forts Heiman, Henry and Donelson, many freedom seeking slaves sought refuge at these forts, even establishing a community near today's Fort Donelson National Cemetery.