Military Wiki
Fort Donelson
Fort Donelson river battery (1).jpg
Part of the lower river battery at Fort Donelson, overlooking the Cumberland River
Type Fort
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1862
In use 1862-1865
Controlled by Confederate States (1862)
United States (1862-1865)

American Civil War

Fort Donelson was a fortress built by the Confederacy during the American Civil War to control the Cumberland River leading to the heart of Tennessee, and the heart of the Confederacy. The fort was named after Confederate general Daniel S. Donelson.[1]


Bushrod Johnson of the Confederate Corps of Engineers had approved the build site and supervised construction in 1862. Construction was started by a large force of men brought from the nearby Cumberland Iron Works. Confederate commanders

Fort Donelson was garrisoned by the Confederate troops until 1862. The fort was captured by Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his army during a winter offensive to divide the Confederacy in two by controlling the Mississippi River. (see Battle of Fort Donelson)

The fort was attacked again on August 25, 1863, by a Confederate force demanding its surrender. The attack was unsuccessful and was repulsed.

The Union Attack[]

(main article Battle of Fort Donelson)

Fort Donelson was attacked by General U.S Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Foote, who surrounded the fort and captured it after a short siege.

Fort Donelson under Union control[]

The Union was ecstatic when the news reached the capital and cities of Fort Donelson's surrender. Union forces now controlled one of the largest forts in the western theater. The war had been going badly for the Union in Virginia, but the captures of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson were promising victories. After the front line shifted away Fort Donelson, it became of little strategic importance, but continued to hold a garrison of Union troops. Later, the fort was attacked by a Confederate force of 450 infantrymen, 335 cavalrymen, and two field guns. The Union garrison consisted of four companies (404 men) of the 71st Ohio Regiment. After suffering 30 casualties, the Confederates retreated. They were pursued by the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, but to no avail. Union commanders

  • Ulysses S. Grant (Feb 1862)
  • Abner Harding (Sept 1862-1863)
  • William W. Lowe (Feb 1863)

After the war[]

The Fort Donelson National Battlefield was created in 1928, and the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It was redesignated as a national battlefield on August 16, 1985. Fort Heiman was later incorporated into the park.


Coordinates: 36°29′38″N 87°51′22″W / 36.493808°N 87.856014°W / 36.493808; -87.856014

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