Fort Donelson Battlefield - History and Facts | History Hit

Fort Donelson Battlefield

Dover, Tennessee, United States

Fort Donelson Battlefield was the scene of a major Union victory in the American Civil War.

Image Credit: Zack Frank/

About Fort Donelson Battlefield

Fort Donelson Battlefield was the site of a fierce and pivotal battle fought in Tennessee, USA, from 11-16 February 1862 as part of the American Civil War. The two parties involved were the Unionists, commanded by the then Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Confederates, led by Brigadier General John B. Floyd.

History of Fort Donelson Battlefield

The Battle of Fort Donelson was preceded by the capture of Fort Henry in western Tennessee by Grant a few days earlier. Viewing this victory as a chance to invade the South, Grant moved his forces towards Fort Donelson on 12 February.

After a number of probing attacks and a naval gunship battle won by the Confederates, the Unionists started gaining momentum, due in large part to the reinforcements amassed by Grant. By 16 February, the Confederates had suffered major losses and Confederate Brigadier General Buckner asked Grant for terms to end the fighting. Grant’s now famous response was ‘No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.’ And thus Buckner surrendered.

The Battle of Fort Donelson marked a significant win for the Unionists, breaking the South and forcing the Confederates to relinquish southern Kentucky as well as much of West and Middle Tennessee. Grant was promoted to the rank of major general and nicknamed ‘Unconditional Surrender’ Grant. His army would later be known as the Army of Tennessee.

Fort Donelson Battlefield Today

Visitors to Fort Donelson Battlefield can learn more about the battle, its participants, and its effects though a six mile self-guided tour as well as visiting the Fort Donelson cemetery.

It’s best to start at the Fort Donelson Battlefield visitor centre, which houses a number of exhibits and offers a short introductory film, giving an insight into the battle and a starting off point from which to plan your day.

Getting to Fort Donelson Battlefield

From the centre of Nashville, the fort is an hour and 25 minute drive via the I-24 W and US-79 S roads.

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