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Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Fort Donelson National Battlefield - BEST Places to Picnic

P.O. Box 434
Dover, Tennessee 37058

(931) 232-5348 ext. 0
Fort Donelson Visitor Center
(931) 232-5706 ext. 0

Explore Fort Donelson!

"Fort Donelson surrenders unconditionally."

Unconditional surrender of Fort Donelson created jubilation throughout the North and silence in Dixie. It was the North�s first major victory of the Civil War, opening the way into the very heart of the Confederacy.

The Battle of Fort Donelson

February 14th, 1862 dawned cold and quiet. Early in the afternoon Foote�s Union gunboats arrived at Fort Donelson and began exchanging �iron valentines� with the Confederate heavy artillery. The gunboats suffered such damage that the decks became slippery with blood. The artillery bombardment from the Cumberland River bluff crippled the ironclads forcing them to retreat.

Fort Donelson National Cemetery

In 1863, the Union Army abandoned the Confederate works and constructed a new fortification on the ground that became the cemetery site. A freedmen's community developed around the new Union fort. Four years later, this same site was selected and 670 Union soldiers were reinterred here.

Things to Do

Begin your visit at the visitor center. The visitor center, located on Highway 79, is open daily, 8 a.m. � 4:30 p.m. The information desk is operational all day and the person manning it can provide you with a list of scheduled park events and provide you with a copy of the official Fort Donelson Park and Guide. The visitor center contains a gift shop/book store, staffed by Eastern National, a museum displaying Civil War artifacts and an exhibit on the Underground Railroad. 

The park�s orientation film Fort Donelson: Gateway to the Confederate Heartland engages visitors with a storyline that draws on the lifelong friendship between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Simon B. Buckner. Emphasis is still placed on the 1862 battles at Forts Henry and Donelson and its military significance. 

Park visitors also learn a couple of new facts: Confederates actually built three earthen forts, one named Fort Heiman, which was built just across the Tennessee River in Calloway County, Kentucky, and that these forts were eventually used as safe havens by freedom-seeking slaves. All visitor center facilities are accessible.

Park Tour

The tour at Fort Donelson National Battlefield is self-guided. A park brochure explains the six-mile, self-guided tour. Park Rangers are available for questions.


The park has 5.7 miles of hiking trails for nature lovers to enjoy. Visitors can pick up a trail guide at the visitor center.

Did You Know?
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.

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